Smithsonian Air and Space Museum
Radar Mapping of the Moon
Radar Mapping of the Moon

Radar Mapping of the Moon

Planetary scientists in the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies are mapping the Moon using radar data obtained from ground-based radar transmitters and radiotelescopes.

Radar can reveal fine details of features formed by volcanism and impacts, and at longer wavelengths can probe tens of meters below the lunar surface to map ancient landscapes buried by dust and debris. The new radar images are being used to support a wide variety of scientific investigations of the Moon's geologic history, and to assist in the search for safe landing sites and potential resources for future explorers.

Global Animation:

Researchers are gradually building a map of the side of the Moon visible from Earth.

This movie shows a mosaic of 70-cm radar data for the Moon, using a map projection that places the center of the Earth-facing side at top, and rotates around the limb starting from the north pole, along the east side to the south pole, and back again along the west side.