Science

Nasa has released a breathtaking high-resolution virtual tour of the moon's surface

Take a high-resolution virtual tour of the moon thanks to data provided by Nasa's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft.

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Nasa has released a detailed high-resolution tour of the moon’s most fascinating and important features.

In late 2011, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission released its original tour of the moon, an animation that takes the viewer 239,000 miles away from Earth on a virtual tour of the moon’s surface.

Six years on, the video has been re-created in high-quality 4K resolution, using the data collected by LRO in the years between to give an improved virtual tour.

The video, by Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Centre and David Ladd, shows viewers interesting features, sites, and information about the moon’s terrain.

The tour has been constructed from nine years worth of data from the LRO.

Nasa said: “The tour visits a number of interesting sites chosen to illustrate a variety of lunar terrain features.

“Some are on the near side and are familiar to both professional and amateur observers on Earth, while others can only be seen clearly from space.

“Some are large and old (Orientale, South Pole-Aitken), others are smaller and younger (Tycho, Aristarchus).

“Constantly shadowed areas near the poles are hard to photograph but easier to measure with altimetry, while several of the Apollo landing sites, all relatively near the equator, have been imaged at resolutions as high as 25 centimetres (10 inches) per pixel.”

Comparisons of certain frames from the original 2011 tour (bottom) and the 2018 version (top) (Nasa)

As well as being a fascinating watch, the video has helped scientists to get a clearer picture of the complex terrain and features of Earth’s closest neighbour.

During the Apollo programme of the 1960s and 1970s, Nasa sent nine missions to the moon, with six missions landing astronauts safely on the surface.

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