Moon

A Geologic map of the Entire Moon has Been Released at 1:2,500,000-Scale

Chinese scientists have created the most detailed map of the Moon yet. It took them 10 years and involved hundreds of researchers. The new map will be a boon to lunar exploration and for anyone who just wants to study our natural satellite in more detail.

Up until now the USGS map of the Moon has been the standard. But that map has a resolution of 1:5,000,000. The new map supersedes that with a resolution of 1:2,500,000.

This screenshot from the new lunar map is centred on the Tycho Crater. The map shows the composition and structure of the lunar surface and over 12,000 craters. Image via Science Bulletin/Research Gate

The new map from Chinese scientists is also based on the latest findings on the Moon. China began their lunar exploration program in 2004 and has sent its own orbiters, landers, and rovers there. Those missions gathered data that fed into the map.

The Institute of Geochemistry of the Chinese Academy of Sciences led the project and other Chinese institutions took part. The map shows 12,341 impact craters, 81 impact basins, 17 rock types and 14 different types of structures.

This screenshot is a zoomed-in look at the Mare Tranquillitatis and gives a good representation of the detail on the map. The red stars are volcanic vents. Image via Science Bulletin/Research Gate

It’s difficult to overstate how detailed the map is. The tighter you zoom in the more detail there is.

Zoom in on almost any spot on the map and an enormous amount of detail is available. The blue lines are wrinkle ridges, and the red truncated triangle outlined in blue indicates pure anorthosite. Image via Science Bulletin/Research Gate

Other maps of the Moon were created with data from different space-faring nations, and while they’ve been effective, there were different standards and capabilities behind all that data. But this one is different. This map is all built to the same standard.

Researchers started by dividing the Moon into 30 quadrangles. Each of the quadrangles was mapped to the same standards and the quadrangles were stitched together into one map. The data from the map came from China’s own lunar program and from exploration by other space-faring nations as well. The result is a synthesis of knowledge captured over decades.

This is a screenshot of a small part of the map’s legend. The legend contains an enormous amount of detail. Image via Science Bulletin/Research Gate

“As syntheses of current knowledge on lunar geology and evolution history, lunar geologic maps are fundamental resources in science research, exploration planning, and landing site selection,” the paper presenting the map says.

This map is a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to understand the Moon in more detail. It’s downloadable at https://dx.doi.org/10.12176/03.99.02797.

But be warned! The file is 150 MB.

Evan Gough

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