New topographic map of Earth's moon released
November 18th, 2011
11:54 AM ET

New topographic map of Earth's moon released

Using data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft, scientists have created the highest resolution topographic map of the moon in existence.

The map shows the surface shape and features over nearly the entire moon, according to researchers. It was composed from 69,000 stereo models from the Wide Angle Camera aboard the LRO.

This map covers 98.2% of the lunar surface; persistent shadows near the poles prevent a complete stereo map at the highest latitudes, NASA said. But another instrument on the LRO, called the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA), is very good at mapping at the poles, and can be used to fill in the gaps.

The colors on the map represent altitude.

Because of the limitations of instruments on previous spacecraft, a global map of the moon’s topography at high resolution has not been possible until now.

“Our new topographic view of the moon provides the data set that lunar scientists have waited for since the Apollo era,” according to a statement from Mark Robinson, principal investigator of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera at Arizona State University in Tempe.

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Filed under: In Space • News
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. W L JONES

    After all those years the Moon surface still look like a pot of Southren grits cooking.

    November 27, 2011 at 10:56 am |
  2. Cat mandew

    Nasa is lets send our politicans up there so they quit with all the silly bickering!

    November 21, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  3. AJ

    Where did the Decepticons go....Michael Bay told me it was on the Dark of the Moon...I dont see it 🙁

    November 21, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  4. Jeff

    The heavens declare the glory of God! The earth shows forth His handy work! Psalm 19:1

    November 21, 2011 at 5:54 am |
    • Derek

      Oh boy... Really?

      November 22, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  5. Matt

    Been looking forward to the completion of this project for a long time.

    November 21, 2011 at 1:17 am |
  6. tamara reina

    Well where is the old moon? Yes, this is just reaction if you really study the lunar system you will find this to be very intransit to solar system. If that was the case the old moon would had to merger like a dip to make it look new.

    November 21, 2011 at 12:41 am |
  7. ducktape

    Great info keep it up

    November 20, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  8. Inquiring minds want to know

    Considering that NASA's cut of the national budget is less than 1%, it's amazing to witness the progress they sustain in the exploration of our Universe. Hopefully my child-like fascination of the unknown will continue to be tweaked by these great pioneers for many years to come. Live long and prosper, NASA!

    November 20, 2011 at 3:11 am |
  9. Steven Scheuneman

    I was wondering how long until Google gets up there and offers street-view?

    November 19, 2011 at 11:31 am |
  10. Bryan

    No offense to the author of this, but this story came out a year ago.
    You always seems to be a 'light year' behind the actual events

    November 19, 2011 at 10:48 am |
  11. Bryan

    cool stuff

    November 19, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  12. Joe Blow


    November 19, 2011 at 9:47 am |
  13. pulsars

    The nations of the world should come together and put a permanent base on the moon. The world spends several trillion dollars on wars, weapons, ships, airplanes, military payroll, etc... and it would cost only a fraction of that to put a human presence on the moon. We are fools.

    November 19, 2011 at 6:11 am |
    • AJ

      First place suitable to put the United Nations...on another planet :p

      November 21, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
  14. Rob

    How much did this info cost us? Was it in the millions? I mean really, did we need this info for any particular reason? How about using that money instead to help our economy. Don't get me wrong I love space exploration, but the moon! Its a rock floating around the earth. People are protesting in the streets and the government is spending money on useless information. Hey how about putting some lube on before you ram that thing in next time!

    November 19, 2011 at 12:23 am |
    • gypsy

      It cost far less than the Iraq war and no one died. The gov can spend all my tax money on science. Good things come out of NASA, far better than what comes from the military spending.

      November 19, 2011 at 6:43 am |
  15. hippypoet

    more proof that god doesn't exist. see his face anywhere on the moon? i don't see any bibles up there

    November 18, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
    • AK77

      More proof that God doesn't exist??? Ha ha, if anything, it's more proof that God does exist, or are you claiming that this whole universe and the heavenly bodies withing just appeared out of no where, set at perfect distance from each other to make their existence even possible?

      November 19, 2011 at 3:05 am |
      • ROMERO

        no your wrong thats the views of those who believe in creationisum (as in god created everything in perfect proportion and each heavenly body and every object living or otherwise that holds mass all together placed where it is today). if you studied any amount of science youd know that due to expansion our solor and the univers in general noting is proportional nothings was placed just right. clumps of gas and debre were pulled together from objects that had slightly more mass as these bodies grew creating more mass objects were pulled in plants that were smalled died burning into larger plants so on and so forth until a balnce was found between the push and pull of all sorrounding mass

        November 19, 2011 at 5:10 am |
      • Carrera

        Guys, as long as we do not know how everything started to the tee, there will be god. In fact, I suspect, even after things are proven beyond any shadow of doubt, there will be believers..simply because it is too hard to live comfortably with the notion that when we die there is nothing, we just rot like everything else. It takes guts to accept the reality.

        November 19, 2011 at 7:38 am |
  16. AthensGuy

    Ca. 10,000 m? Wow, that is higher than the Everest (8,800 m)

    November 18, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  17. r.k.

    Are those altitudes in meters above sea level?

    November 18, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • maui808

      there is no "sea" on the moon. im curious if the decided on some mean elevation..

      November 18, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
      • AJ

        The lunar maria are large, dark, basaltic plains on Earth's Moon, formed by ancient volcanic eruptions. They were dubbed maria, Latin for "seas", by early astronomers who mistook them for actual seas. They are less reflective than the "highlands" as a result of their iron-rich compositions, and hence appear dark to the naked eye. The maria cover about 16 percent of the lunar surface, mostly on the near-side visible from Earth. The few maria on the far-side are much smaller, residing mostly in very large craters. The traditional nomenclature for the Moon also includes one oceanus (ocean), as well as features with the names lacus (lake), palus (marsh) and sinus (bay). The latter three are smaller than maria, but have the same nature and characteristics. Yes...there is no water, but to not confuse people they probably based upon Earth's elevation scale using a "sea level" as a base point.

        November 21, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
      • maui808

        interesting information thanks. but you answered my question with a probability.

        November 22, 2011 at 1:34 am |
  18. Pete McEwen

    Only 98.2%! Haven't they ever heard of flash bulbs?

    November 18, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  19. satire?

    What's the m in the parentheses mean by elevation?

    November 18, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • ??


      November 18, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
      • satire?

        Are they going to be battling the plutonians to corrupt mankind?

        November 18, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • College Student

      No, it is meters. Don't confuse people who are not engineers.

      November 18, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • AJ

      Meters like the unit of measurement they couldnt multiply with to get to Mars...remember lol

      November 21, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
  20. HT

    No report of alien bases?


    Take that, conspiracy theorists!

    November 18, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  21. Tony Sapo

    I love NASA

    November 18, 2011 at 12:26 pm |


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