A group of Chinese scientists spent 10 years making the most detailed and up to date map of the Moon. It shows the geology of the Moon’s surface, including craters from meteor impacts and remnants of volcanic activity. The map has a scale of 1:2.5 million. That means that every inch of the map represents 2.5 million inches or about 40 miles on the Moon’s surface. The colors correspond to the age of different rocks and formations, dating all the way back to when the Moon was formed more than 4.5 billion years ago.
The U.S. Geological Survey released a similar geologic moon map back in 2020. That map has less detail at a scale of 1:5 million. It is also based on NASA’s Apollo missions and satellite data whereas this new map includes data from missions undertaken by China, India, and Japan. We first saw the map, which is part of a publicly available dataset, on DesignTAXI. The scientific team also published the results in the journal Science Bulletin.
Space agencies will likely use the detailed map to plan future landing sites and exploration areas. Along with all the geological information like faults and the type of rocks, the map also includes previous landing sites for the various American, Soviet Union, and Chinese Moon missions. NASA recently announced its candidates for where both the VIPER rover and Artemis missions will set down in the Moon’s southern hemisphere.
The map is the culmination of 10 years of work by the scientific team, who see it as a foundation for mapping other planets. Mars is probably next on their to-do list.
Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth.