Exploring the moon: NASA’s first interactive look at the lunar north pole


Constructed from 10,581 pictures, scientists, using cameras aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), have created the largest high resolution mosaic of our moon’s north polar region. The mosaic provides enough detail to see textures and subtle shading of the lunar terrain and consistent lighting throughout the images makes it easy to compare different regions.

Courtesy of Gigapan. Scroll using your mouse or touch screen to zoom in and out, and pan around an area. View full size here.

The six-and-a-half feet (two-meters)-per-pixel images cover an area equal to more than one-quarter of the United States.

“This unique image is a tremendous resource for scientists and the public alike,” said John Keller, LRO project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. in a press release. “It’s the latest example of the exciting insights and data products LRO has been providing for nearly five years.”

“Creation of this giant mosaic took four years and a huge team effort across the LRO project,” said Mark Robinson, principal investigator for the LROC at Arizona State University in Tempe in the release. “We now have a nearly uniform map to unravel key science questions and find the best landing spots for future exploration.”

The entire image measures 931,070 pixels square – nearly 867 billion pixels total. A complete printout at 300 dots per inch – considered crisp resolution for printed publications – would require a square sheet of paper wider than a football field and almost as long. If the complete mosaic were processed as a single file, it would require approximately 3.3 terabytes of storage space.

Instead, 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.

By the numbers:

Square image: 931,070 pixels across and down
Total pixels: 866,891,344,900 (867 billion)
Pixels with image data: 680,808,991,627 (681 billion)
NAC images: 10,581
Image tiles (256×256): 17,641,035 (18 million)
Mass storage of tiles: 950 Gigabytes
Courtesy of asu.edu

(H/T TIME.com)
All images courtesy NASA and Gigapan