Photo Credit: NASA/ GSFC/ USGS
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has released a comprehensive new map of the Moon in partnership with NASA and the Lunar Planetary Institute. The “Unified Geologic Map of the Moon” is said to serve as “definitive blueprint of the Moon's surface geology for future human missions”. The detailed 1:5,000,000-scale geologic map is going to be resourceful for researchers, scientists, students, and the general public. NASA had declared last year that it is going to send astronauts to the Moon again by 2024.
The 4.5-billion years old only natural satellite of Earth has been fully mapped and it is available online (full-sized) having stunning detail, USGS said. It can be used to better understand the surface of the Moon and the history behind the formations on its surface.
“This map is a culmination of a decades-long project,” said Corey Fortezzo, USGS geologist and lead author. “It provides vital information for new scientific studies by connecting the exploration of specific sites on the moon with the rest of the lunar surface.”
The scientists used information from six Apollo-era regional maps and from different recent satellite missions to the Moon. New data sets were used to drawn again to align them with modern data sets. Apart from merging new information with the new ones, USGS also made a unified description of the rock layers of the Moon to bring consistency to the names and ages of the rocks.
The near side of the Moon can be seen full of pinks that show the Imbrian era formation, taking place about 3.5 billion years ago. The Moon's surface was hit by many asteroids during this period.
USGS Director and former NASA astronaut Jim Reilly said, “It's wonderful to see USGS create a resource that can help NASA with their planning for future missions.”