You've never seen the moon like this.

By Stacey Leasca
April 24, 2020
Orthographic projections of the "Unified Geologic Map of the Moon" showing the geology of the Moon’s near side (left) and far side (right) with shaded topography from the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA). This geologic map is a synthesis of six Apollo-era regional geologic maps, updated based on data from recent satellite missions. It will serve as a reference for lunar science and future human missions to the Moon.

Humans landed on the moon more than 50 years ago. You’d think in the decades since that we would have learned all there is to know about our rocky little cousin. But, as the United States Geological Survey (USGS) just shared, we are merely scratching the newly-mapped surface.

On Monday, the USGS explained that for the very first time, the “entire lunar surface has been completely mapped and uniformly classified by scientists from the USGS Astrogeology Science Center, in collaboration with NASA and the Lunar Planetary Institute.” And man is the map pretty to look at.

Known as the “Unified Geologic Map of the Moon,” the map, the USGS explained,  will serve as the “definitive blueprint of the moon’s surface geology for future human missions.” It added, the map is now an “invaluable” tool for the international scientific community, along with an excellent tool for educators and the public-at-large simply to enjoy.

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

Just how detailed is this map? For the map, scientists brought together decade’s worth of both manned mission, including six Apollo-era regional maps, and recent satellite data to completely redraw our view of the moon.

And, as the USGS noted, this new map goes beyond everything we previously knew by also developing a “unified description of the stratigraphy, or rock layers, of the moon.” This, it said, resolved issues from previous map inconsistencies.

“This map is a culmination of a decades-long project,” Corey Fortezzo, USGS geologist and lead author, added in a statement. “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.”

The new map is available online now at 1:5,000,000 scale. And it may just be cool enough to become your new phone background. That way, you’ll remember to shoot for the moon in stunning detail too.