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China's new map of the moon captures lunar geologic features in incredible detail

The 1:2,500,000 scale lunar map released by the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
The 1:2,500,000 scale lunar map released by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. (Image credit: NSSC/CAS)

Scientists have created a new high-resolution map of the moon using data from China's recent lunar missions.

The detailed map was created using data primarily from China's Lunar Exploration Program collected over the past 15 years, and was supplemented by high-quality data from international exploration missions from the U.S., Japan and India.

It reveals geologic layers, structural features and a chronology of the moon's surface, and includes 12,341 impact craters, 81 impact basins, 17 rock types and 14 types of structures.

Related: Amazing moon photos from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

The map reflects "the evolution of lunar crust under igneous processes, catastrophic impacts and volcanic activities," the research team wrote in a paper accepted for publication in the journal Science Bulletin (opens in new tab).

The map uses a Mollweide projection that creates an elliptical view of the moon; China also provided stereographic projections, separately centered on the north and south poles. Researchers could use the new work for further lunar geologic mapping and landing site selection for future missions. 

The full-size map is available from the Chinese Academy of Sciences' National Space Science Center (opens in new tab).

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Andrew is a freelance space journalist with a focus on reporting on China's rapidly growing space sector. He began writing for Space.com in 2019 and writes for SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, New Scientist and others. Andrew first caught the space bug when, as a youngster, he saw Voyager images of other worlds in our solar system for the first time. Away from space, Andrew enjoys trail running in the forests of Finland. You can follow him on Twitter @AJ_FI (opens in new tab).