Domino's Pizza may have plans for a franchise on the moon (if China doesn't claim the entire thing first), but where will they put it? Until now there has only been low resolution images of the moon's surface available. All that has changed thanks to NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. On board is a camera that could fit in the palm of your hand that takes pictures covering most of the moon's surface once a month.
Over 69,000 of those pictures have been stitched together by the science team at the Arizona State University in Tempe to show a single map of the moon. Each small pixel represents about 328 feet across and two football fields in height. The only exception to the coverage are the poles of the moon which don't receive enough light for the camera to capture images, but another image recorder on the orbiter is mapping those regions with the assistance of lasers.
With this new topographical map in hand, scientists can now "...better understand impact crater mechanics, investigate the nature of volcanic features, and better plan future robotic and human missions to the moon," according to Mark Robinson, Principal Investigator of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera. And, of course, people like Richard Branson whose world's first commercial spaceport is nearing completion can set their sights on the next celestial destination for intrepid travelers.
More from Tecca: