R.L. Kirk, B.A. Archinal, L.R. Gaddis, M.R. Rosiek

U.S. Geological Survey, Astrogeology Program, Flagstaff, Arizona, USA


The initial spacecraft exploration of the Moon in the 1960s–70s yielded extensive data, primarily in the form of film and television images, that were used to produce a large number of hardcopy maps by conventional techniques.  A second era of exploration, beginning in the early 1990s, has produced digital data including global multispectral imagery and altimetry, from which a new generation of digital map products tied to a rapidly evolving global control network has been made.  Efforts are also underway to scan the earlier hardcopy maps for online distribution and to digitize the film images themselves so that modern processing techniques can be used to make high-resolution digital terrain models (DTMs) and image mosaics consistent with the current global control.  The pace of lunar exploration is about to accelerate dramatically, with as many of seven new missions planned for the current decade.  These missions, of which the most important for cartography are SMART-1 (Europe), SELENE (Japan), Chang'E-1 (China), Chandrayaan-1 (India), and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (USA), will return a volume of data exceeding that of all previous lunar and planetary missions combined.  Framing and scanner camera images, including multispectral and stereo data, hyperspectral images, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images, and laser altimetry will all be collected, including, in most cases, multiple datasets of each type.  Substantial advances in international standardization and cooperation, development of new and more efficient data processing methods, and availability of resources for processing and archiving will all be needed if the next generation of missions are to fulfil their potential for high-precision mapping of the Moon in support of subsequent exploration and scientific investigation.