To understand the Moon's geology, lunar scientists study its topography. How deep are its craters? How high are its mountains? How steep are its slopes?
They learn much of this from stereo imaging, which provides depth by comparing images of the same area taken from slightly different viewpoints. LROC's Wide Angle Camera acquires stereo images across the entire lunar globe. Regions in permanent shadow are measured by the spacecraft's Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter. LROC's Narrow Angle Camera acquires very high resolution stereo by imaging the same area on successive orbits.
North Pole Topography
In this view, the North Pole is at the center. The far side of the Moon is toward the top and the near side toward the bottom. The colors represent different elevations. The difference between near side and far side is striking. Highlands (orange and red) dominate the far side. The lower-lying mare basins (large darker blue areas) dominate the near side
South Pole Topography
In this view, the South Pole is at the center. The far side of the Moon is toward the bottom and the near side toward the top. The large, roughly circular, low-lying area (deep blue and purple) is the South Pole—Aitken Basin, the largest and deepest impact feature on the Moon.
Lunar Topographic Map
This remarkable map, created using WAC images and LOLA laser profiles, shows the highs and lows over nearly the entire Moon at a pixel scale of 300 meters (980 feet). The colors represent elevation, from lowest (purple to black) to highest (red to white). The map is centered on the Moon's near side.
Topography of Orientale Basin
LROC's Wide Angle Camera makes stereo observations by imaging the same area during at least two orbits. The apparent difference in positions of features when viewed along different lines of sight is measured and converted into elevation data. This topographic map is centered on Orientale, the youngest of the large lunar impact basins.
Elevation Map of Giordano Bruno
Topographic contours derived from a digital terrain model of Giordano Bruno are overlain here on an image of the crater. The elevation difference between contour lines is 25 meters (82 feet). The steepness of the crater rim is indicated by the close spacing of the lines. The difference between the crater rim and floor is 3 kilometers (1.9 miles).
Image width: 24 km (15 mi.)
3D Perspective View of Linné Crater
Stereo images are used to create a high-resolution topographic model of Linné crater, a young, bowl-shaped impact crater. That model enables scientists to view the crater from any angle—a powerful tool for interpreting an area's geology and planning future exploration.
Image width: 3.5 km (2.2 mi.)
Elevation Map of Linné Crater
Topographic contours derived from a digital terrain model are overlain here on an image of a section of Linné crater. The elevation difference between contour lines is 10 meters (33 feet). The closer the lines are, the steeper the terrain. The difference between the crater rim and floor is more than 500 meters (1,640 feet).
Image width: 3.5 km (2.2 mi.)