NASA releases interactive mosaic of lunar North Pole

WASHINGTON, March 19 (PNA/Xinhua) — U.S. space agency NASA said Tuesday its scientists have created an interactive mosaic of the moon’s North Pole.

The two-meters-per-pixel mosaic, constructed from 10,581 pictures, cover an area equal to more than one-quarter of the United States, NASA said in a statement, adding it provides enough detail to see textures and subtle shading of the lunar terrain.

The images making up the mosaic were taken by two narrow angle cameras aboard the space agency’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter ( LRO), NASA said.

“Creation of this giant mosaic took four years and a huge team effort across the LRO project,” said Mark Robinson, principal investigator for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera at Arizona State University.

“We now have a nearly uniform map to unravel key science questions and find the best landing spots for future exploration,” Robinson said.

The agency said if the complete mosaic were processed as a single file, it would require approximately 3.3 terabytes of storage space.

Therefore, the processed mosaic was divided into millions of small, compressed files, making it manageable for users to view and navigate around the image using a web browser, it added.

The LRO, which entered lunar orbit in June 2009, was equipped with seven instrument suites to map the surface, probe the radiation environment, investigate water and key mineral resources, and gather geological clues about the moon’s evolution. (PNA/Xinhua)