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USGS releases new geological map of the Moon

Moon geology

United States Geological Survey releases first-ever comprehensive geological map of the lunar surface

THE United States Geological Survey (USGS) has released a new authoritative map to help explain the 4.5-billion-year-old history of the Earth’s nearest neighbour in space.

For 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.

The lunar map, called the ‘Unified Geologic Map of the Moon’, will serve as the definitive blueprint of the Moon’s surface geology for future human missions. It shows the Moon’s geology in incredible detail at 1:5,000,000 scale.

‘People have always been fascinated by the Moon and when we might return,’ said current USGS director and former NASA astronaut Jim Reilly. ‘So, it’s wonderful to see USGS create a resource that can help NASA with their planning for future missions.’

To create the new digital map, scientists used information from six Apollo-era regional maps along with updated information from recent satellite missions to the Moon. The existing historical maps were redrawn to align them with the modern data sets, thus preserving previous observations and interpretations.

Along with merging new and old data, USGS researchers also developed a unified description of the stratigraphy of the Moon. This resolved issues from previous maps where rock names, descriptions and ages were sometimes inconsistent.

‘This map is a culmination of a decades-long project,’ said USGS geologist and lead author Corey Fortezzo. ‘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.’

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