New interactive gigapixel moon map will take your breath away

Opening page of the LROC’s new interactive gigapixel map of the moon’s north polar region. Viewers can start with this wide, overhead view and zoom smoothly down to the level of seeing individual rocks on crater slopes. Click and check it out! Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

I really enjoyed my trip to the moon’s north pole today. No ship, no suiting up, no Tang. All I had to do was drop by NASA’s new interactive Northern Polar Mosaic and click and scroll. The journey was breathtaking, no exaggeration. You need remember just one thing before you begin your own lunar odyssey – click the full screen icon below the zoom slider, and you’ll feel like you’re peering from the window of a virtual spaceship.

The 681 gigapixel mosaic was created by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) team using 10,581 images with a resolution of 2 meters per pixel and is believed to be the largest, publicly available image mosaic in existence. Four years went into its making.

Printed at 300 dpi – a high-quality printing resolution that requires you to peer very closely to distinguish pixels – the mosaic map would be larger than a football field. Credit: NASA

Users can click and drag to zoom in and out and choose to display labels or not. Ten ‘auto zooms’ to craters of interest are available at the bottom of the map. One of them is the impact site of the lunar gravity probe GRAIL-B, which was deliberately crashed into the moon at the end of its mission in December 2012. One striking difference between this and other panning maps I’ve used is how smooth the zooming is. Moving in and out from place to place feels both real and effortless.

Fracture on the floor of Karpinskiy Crater – a great place to visit with the new interactive north polar map. Click for more information on the mapping project. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

One of my favorite sites is 57-mile-wide Karpinskiy Crater that features a huge crack in its floor. Zooming to the max, boulders as small as an upright piano are visible along the slopes of the fracture. Amazing!

But there’s lots more. Fire up the rocket and have a look yourself!

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About astrobob

My name is Bob King and I work at the Duluth News Tribune in Duluth, Minn. as a photographer and photo editor. I'm also an amateur astronomer and have been keen on the sky since age 11. My modest credentials include membership in the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) where I'm a regular contributor, International Meteorite Collectors Assn. and Arrowhead Astronomical Society. I also teach community education astronomy classes at our local planetarium.

7 thoughts on “New interactive gigapixel moon map will take your breath away

  1. Thanx for sharing, Bob. Lets one realize how big is the Moon. Did you check if one can see some Apollo lander? (at 2m/pixel it seems at the limit)

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