US scientists have put together the first comprehensive geologic map of the moon. NASA
Over 400 years ago, Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei painted a set of six watercolors of the moon in its various phases based on his observation through telescopes. Now, with the help of modern technology and scientists from the United States Geological Survey (USGS), NASA and the Lunar and Planetary Institute, we have the first-ever comprehensive geologic map of the moon. And it’s quite colorful, too.
Named the “Unified Geologic Map of the Moon”, it consists of 43 geologic units across the entire lunar surface, which can be classified into six categories including basins and volcanic units. Different geological structures and different age periods of the moon are marked with different colors. For example, the bright pink that covers a large area of the map indicates the craters caused by asteroid impacts, which gave the moon its rough surface, according to Science Daily.
The new map was put together by combining six other geologic maps of different sides of the moon – including the ones developed as a result of US’ Apollo mission during the 1960s and 1970s, as well as more recent satellite images. However, the Apollo-era lunar maps were in paper format and early digitized versions did not match updated and more accurate images, making the project challenging.
这张新地质图是将六张月球不同面的地质图合并制作而成 —— 包括了上世纪六七十年代美国阿波罗任务中绘制的地质图，以及近期的卫星影像。但阿波罗时代的月球图是纸质的，早期的数字化版本与如今更精准的影像并不匹配，这些情况令该项目充满挑战。
“Much of the historical mapping was performed by various groups and at regional scales,” Justin Hagerty, Astrogeology Director at USGS, told Science Alert. “It was a huge effort for our team to complete this new map and make it seamless.”
Scientists believe that the new map will serve as a “blueprint of the moon’s surface geology for future human missions”, according to the website of USGS. This would be especially beneficial as NASA is planning to land astronauts on the moon by 2024 as part of the Artemis 3 mission.
Indeed, centuries have passed since the time of Galilei, but the moon has never stopped being an attraction for us humans. Now we have created the most detailed map yet and are ready to explore.