December 12, 2018
Originally published October 3, 2009
image from China.org.cn
China, whose Chang'e lunar orbiter successfully completed its 16 month mission in March 2009, has released few data products, at least that have been made available to the West. Now, a global topographic map has been described in popular articles, one version of which included this small scale image. Obviously this was created as a color image but was reduced to black & white for some inexplicable reason. The topographic contours were derived from 120 m resolution images captured by Chang'e's stereo camera. It is claimed that this is the highest resolution topographic map of the Moon - with 500 m resolution, but that may not be correct. The recently released topo map from Japan's Kaguya/Selene mission was constructed from laser altimetry and probably has higher resolution. India was also creating a lunar topo map with its Chandrayaan-1 orbiter, but its early demise probably means that incomplete imaging was acquired and thus the topo map will have gaps. Hopefully, the LRO satellite will complete its mission successfully creating the last high res topo map from this second generation of lunar exploration. As shown, the map above has very little value, but hopefully some day a large scale map and digital terrain file will be made available. It must be very frustrating to the Chinese scientists and engineers who designed, built and flew this pioneering spacecraft to have so little of its results made public.
PS - you can see that Mare Nubium contains a large circular depression.
Yesterday's LPOD: Cleo 2
Tomorrow's LPOD: Moon Wall