From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Unified Geologic Map of the Moon
Mains level : Studying topography of the moon
The first-ever digital, unified, global, geological map of the moon was released virtually by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), NASA and the Lunar Planetary Institute.
Unified Geologic Map of the Moon
- The UGM will serve as a blueprint for future human missions and a source of research and analysis for the educators and the general public interested in lunar geology.
- The map is a ‘seamless, globally consistent, 1:5,000,000-scale geologic map’.
- The mapped surface features of the moon included crater rim crests, buried crater rim crests, fissures, grabens, scarps, mare wrinkle ridges, faults, troughs, rilles, and lineaments.
How it was prepared?
- The researchers built on the original digital renovation of the six maps comprising of the near, central far, east, west, north and south sides that was released in 2013.
- The final map consists of 43 geologic units across the entire lunar surface, broken down into groups based on characteristics like materials of craters, basins, terra, plains and volcanic units.
- Data from NASA’s Apollo Missions were used to come up with the map.
- The moon’s South Pole is especially interesting because the area is much larger than the North Pole and there could be a possibility of the presence of water in these permanently shadowed areas.
- Further, the South Pole region also contains the fossil record of the early Solar System.
- These present and future moon missions’ success can be further helped by the digital map of the moon.
- The Chandrayaan 2, an active mission also targets the Lunar South Pole for exploration.