The moon might not feel like much of a mystery since humans have already set foot on its surface, but for most of us, it’s still just a silver circle in the sky.
One of the reasons the moon remains a relative question mark is because we haven’t mapped its surface, so unlike Earth, the average person has no idea what the moon actually looks like. Now, however, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) is pulling back the curtain, sharing the first-ever mapping of the lunar surface.
According to the USGS, this is the first time the “entire lunar surface has been completely mapped and uniformly classified by scientists from the USGS Astrogeology Science Center, in collaboration with NASA and the Lunar Planetary Institute.”
To create the Unified Geologic Map of the Moon, scientists compiled a decade’s worth of data, gathered from Apollo-era regional maps and recent satellite missions to the moon. In a statement, 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.”
The map will prove essential as the scientific community continues to expand its understanding of the moon’s surface geology, especially as it pertains to future human missions. It’s only available online at 1:5,000,000 scale, but it also still provides a fascinating picture of the mysterious celestial body. For a better understanding of what each color and symbol on the map means, read the abstract or download it directly at the Unified Geologic Map of the Moon website.