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New moon map
Photograph: Courtesy NASA/GSFC/USGS

These beautiful pictures of the moon will rock your world

The new map is the result of decades of studies and data.

Anna Ben Yehuda

Earlier this week, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) released what is the result of years upon years of study: a mapping of the entire lunar surface.

The project, which the agency worked on in collaboration with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Lunar Planetary Institute, is officially known as the Unified Geologic Map of the Moon.

"People have always been fascinated by the moon and when we might return," said current USGS Director and former NASA astronaut Jim Reilly in a statement. “So, it’s wonderful to see USGS create a resource that can help NASA with their planning for future missions.”

To put it simply, the map was created using data from six Apollo-era missions, more recent excursions and pre-existing drawings. The statement explains that "USGS researchers also developed a unified description of the stratigraphy, or rock layers, of the moon."

Needless to say, the effort will become a very useful tool for scientists and students alike. "It provides vital information for new scientific studies by connecting the exploration of specific sites on the moon with the rest of the lunar surface," explains Corey Fortezzo, a USGS geologist and lead author, in the statement.

Check out the truly stunning pictures of the map right above, or explore it in more detail yourself here.

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