Space, long regarded as the final frontier. Mankind, ever since the minute Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon, long held a craze for it. And now, decades since our first touch of the moon, an enticing new breakthrough emerges. This week, a highly accurate, 3D lunar map arrives!
The project came from a collaboration between NASA, the USGS, and the Lunar And Planetary Institute. The map, released officially by the United States Geological Survey, proves fruitful for decades of intensive efforts to chart the moon’s surface.
The globe-like map marks not only boundaries but complete topography
Up until now, much of the lunar surface remained, for all intents and purposes, uncharted. A few exploratory efforts, despite proving successful, could not add up to a comprehensive atlas. However, the recent collaboration tackled the issue with an ingenious solution. They decided to add up all existing information and cross-reference it with documented data.
The results were certainly impressive. A complete, highly detailed atlas became generated, accurate down to every last known crater. In addition, valleys, frozen lakes and ridges all replicated onto it smoothly. To accomplish this, the team had to join and extrapolate from all the previous data and records across all Apollo missions, and satellite imaging.
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The new technology, and field guide, offer intriguing insights into the moon
Now that future lunar missions will have the utility of the map to guide them, navigating lunar terrain should prove easier. Furthermore, newer parts of the moon previously uncharted may someday become fully explored. In fact, just recently a similar team investigated the lunar surface for traces of water and came back perplexed.
The scientists, going off of decades-old established findings, expected to find large frozen bodies of water. While these were still present, they also discovered chunks of ice across huge fields. The sizes varied from just a few inches to several feet in length, and mathematic estimations indicate over 15000 square miles of the moon could bear these. Due to the extremely low temperatures, lower than negative 260 degrees Celsius, the aptly named these regions ‘micro cold traps’.
The implications of these findings will certainly allow all sorts of hypotheses. Could it be easier to sustain life on the moon, perhaps with the cold traps? Others wonder if astronauts could rely on these cold traps to harvest drinking water in case of emergencies.
Other technological advances make both projects seem more attainable than ever
The lunar robot, a NASA device called the “Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter” recently helped make approximations. The scientists behind the cold traps project needed boots on the ground to verify and correct their calculations. In addition, they relied heavily upon existing scientific models of the moon, though none as accurate as the new map. Although their new estimations seem promising, others point out that implementing the new map may prove even more beneficial.
After all, the usage of newer and more reliable sources to reverify the credibility of older established facts is essentially the heart of science. Furthermore, the findings from future endeavors surely will receive much better results using the updated map. Whatever gaps exist in the atlas’s information can easily receive revisions using new information.
In conclusion, much remains that we do not know about the moon. However, using new technology, discoveries, and information, we may one day bridge that gap! Stick with us for the latest.