USGS: First “Unified Geologic Map of the Moon”

Guest “how about that geology fans?” by David Middleton

USGS Releases First-Ever Comprehensive Geologic Map of the Moon

Release Date: APRIL 20, 2020

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. –  Have you ever wondered what kind of rocks make up those bright and dark splotches on the moon? Well, the USGS has just released a new authoritative map to help explain the 4.5-billion-year-old history of our nearest neighbor in space.

For the 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.

The lunar map, called the “Unified Geologic Map of the Moon,” will serve as the definitive blueprint of the moon’s surface geology for future human missions and will be invaluable for the international scientific community, educators and the public-at-large. The digital map is available online now and shows the moon’s geology in incredible detail (1:5,000,000 scale).

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

To create the new digital map, scientists used information from six Apollo-era regional maps along with updated information from recent satellite missions to the moon. The existing historical maps were redrawn to align them with the modern data sets, thus preserving previous observations and interpretations. Along with merging new and old data, USGS researchers also developed a unified description of the stratigraphy, or rock layers, of the moon. This resolved issues from previous maps where rock names, descriptions and ages were sometimes inconsistent.

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

Elevation data for the moon’s equatorial region came from stereo observations collected by the Terrain Camera on the recent SELENE (Selenological and Engineering Explorer) mission led by JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Topography for the north and south poles was supplemented with NASA’s Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter data.

For more details about the map, read the abstract or download it directly at the Unified Geologic Map of the Moon website.

USGS provides science for a changing world. For more information, visit www.usgs.gov.

Subscribe to USGS News Releases via our electronic mailing list or RSS feed.

USGS

I had the good fortune of working with USGS Director and former NASA astronaut Jim Reilly at Enserch Exploration in the 1980’s and early 1990’s.

For a description of the methodology used in making this geologic map of the Moon, see: RELEASE OF THE DIGITAL UNIFIED GLOBAL GEOLOGIC MAP OF THE MOON AT 1:5,000,000- SCALE

For general reference on geologic map-making see: Introduction to Geologic Mapping

When I get some time, I’ll try to relate some of the rock samples from the Apollo missions to the geologic units depicted on the map.

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. Credit: NASA/GSFC/USGS.
Click to view map.

105 thoughts on “USGS: First “Unified Geologic Map of the Moon”

  1. The Apollo program cost about $152 billion in 2019 dollars. It was not without commercial spinoffs, but whether its practical applications covered the expense is questionable.

    Moon mining and other economic activities might help defray the cost of going back, maybe with a lunar-orbiting space station. The questions of ownership and militarization arise, as with Antarctica. Who gets credit for discovering Antarctica is debatable, but, Moon-landing faking conspiracy theorists aside, there’s no doubt to which nation the first men on the satellite swore allegiance and which flag was planted there.

    • Also, the Moon would be a good place for Elon Musk to set up shop, having sold his terrestrial dwellings.

      • He could build Teslas with titanium bodies, similar to the DeLorean, and not have to bother with painting them.

        • Just make sure that lights make them visible. Also, I assume that we’ll drive on the right, side of craters and such.

          • Patrick
            Note that the operative word was “similar,” not identical. In case you are unaware, moon rocks tend to be high in titanium, hence my suggestion.

    • The Apollo program has already paid for itself many times over. Look through the NASA Spinoffs (https://spinoff.nasa.gov/) and Tech Briefs (https://www.techbriefs.com/) sites. People miss the point that NASA’s mission is not primarily to explore space. NASA’s main job is to develop high-risk technologies for the U.S. aerospace industry and maintain U.S. supremacy in this field.

      Everything that NASA develops is available either free or for a nominal licensing fee to U.S. industries. And, of course, the techniques and tools developed in the course of various projects are then available thereafter.

      In addition, of course, we will, within the next 10 years, be living and working on the Moon routinely. There is a lot of work going on now to put landers and other unmanned missions on the Moon by 2025 and manned bases by 2030. The publicized driver for this is Mars exploration, for which the Moon is good practice. The unpublicized driver is the Chinese push for a military lunar base.

      • Of course, it’s impossible to know what technology would have been developed if we had not focused so much talent and money on planting a flag on the moon and coming home. Perhaps we’d have the flying cars, or floating cities, or the always-a-decade-away fusion energy that clouded the dreams of the late 50’s-early 60’s. Certainly we never dreamed there’d be decades when we had to hitch a ride to a Russian space station. Nor did we imagine that we would be able to dial up the perfect world climate just by tweaking the little CO2 molecule. Dreams are good, but “Man plans, and God laughs”.

        • It’s wonderful how any articles about space on this site bring out all the pipe-dreamers and pie-in-the-sky eaters. Flying cars, floating cities and fusion energy belong in the same basket of fantasy as permanent colonies on the Moon and Mars. No need to deal with practical issues like cost or the physical limitations of the human body when we have such a wealth of “historical documents” like Galaxy Quest and Star Trek showing us how it can be done, if only we put our minds to it.

          Wake me up when there’s a permanently occupied space station orbiting the Moon. I wonder if I’ll be asleep as long as Rip Van Winkle?

          • “Wake me up when there’s a permanently occupied space station orbiting the Moon. I wonder if I’ll be asleep as long as Rip Van Winkle?”

            A space station around the Moon is part of NASA’s plan to return to the Moon. I couldn’t say how long it will be before that is a reality. The Wuhan virus has already set the schedule back a little, it is said.

    • The Apollo program was the base for GPS, telecommunication satellites, weather satellites and all the other things we have blasted off into space used by we lowly people here on Earth. It also was a starting point on miniaturization of semiconductors.

      I really beg to differ on your take on the Apollo program. It has paid back many, many times over.

      • NASA had nothing to do with miniaturization of semiconductors.
        That was started by the companies that made computers.
        Integrated circuits were smaller, faster, cheaper, more reliable and used much less power than did building the same circuits with discrete transistors.
        The best that can be said regarding any technology “developed” by NASA, is that NASA helped to advance the art by a few months.

        • True, but NASA created a market- taking 90% of ALL the logic ICs being made in the 1960s when the nascent industry needed customers.

        • The productions of IC’s was kick started by the Minuteman missile program that needed tens of thousands of IC’s for the guidance systems. This required developing mass production techniques which then greatly lowered the cost of making IC’s. This was similar to the Atlas missile program kick starting the mass production of silicon transistors.

          The cold war aspect to the Apollo program was having one landing within walking distance of a Surveyor lander – this was a hint to the Soviets that the US was capable of developing very accurate ICBM guidance systems.

          • It sure is funny how NASA likes to take credit for all the technological advances made in the pursuit of more accurate weapons systems. It’s odd how all the components for the space program seem to come from the same private companies that make all the weapons for the US military.

            The US will colonize space as soon as there is a military reason to do so.

      • The rockets to launch satellites were devdeloped by the military. GPS was also a DoD project, relying on private contractors.

        For the developments which NASA can with some justification claim, please see the Forbes link.

        NASA has probably not paid for itself, but I’d be happy to see such a C/B analysis be attempted.

        But IMO, it doesn’t matter, since pioneering is a legitimate government function, at least until private enterprise and individuals can take up opening new frontiers.

        • Well, if you develop a viable autonomous asteroid mining and smelting spacecraft, there’s lots of money to be made.

          • How about moving the asteroids onto the Moon? Its farside highlands probably result from ancient lowspeed collisions, if that’s the right word.

          • “How about moving the asteroids onto the Moon? Its farside highlands probably result from ancient lowspeed collisions, if that’s the right word.”

            Yes, no doubt there are all sorts of interesting objects that have impacted the Moon over time. We need to get up there and look around.

            The first priority for mining on the Moon will be the water ice that is there. The mining of water ice on the Moon will be the beginning of the development of the Earth/Moon/Mars system. The water ice will make it possible to do space development much cheaper, than without the water ice.

            Water ice put into Lunar orbit by mass drivers located on the Moon will fuel the development of space. Otherwise, we have to lift all that material from the Earth at a much higher cost. Although this doesn’t seem to deter Elon Musk. He’s planning on launching 1,000 vehicles towards Mars directly from the surface of the Earth. An ambitious plan, I would say. 🙂

        • “it doesn’t matter, since pioneering is a legitimate government function”

          How much, really, did it have to do with pioneering and how much to do with the USSR having been first to build big booster rockets that didn’t explode on the gantry?

          Mutual Assured Destruction required a reliable ICBM launch platform.

    • Some how, people seem to always forget the Apollo mission funding was not spent on the moon. There are no stores or banks on the moon, even now. The money went to Earthbound business, and not simply big corporations. The money went for wages and materials. Business ‘profit’ was deposited in banks for recycling.

    • “The Apollo program cost about $152 billion in 2019 dollars. ”
      JFK was a cold war warrior, and Apollo was cold war effort, and the”$152 billion in 2019 dollars” was best spent dollars to win the war against the Soviet Union.
      Apollo was a PR stunt, and wasn’t about exploration, but the result of the stunt was enormous in terms increasing our scientific understanding of the world we live in. Or result of “the race to send crew to lunar surface and return them safely”, resulted in very significant exploration discoveries.

      –Moon mining and other economic activities might help defray the cost of going back, maybe with a lunar-orbiting space station.–

      It has to be determined if there is mineable water on the Moon. We need to actually explore the lunar polar region. But in terms of another “stunt” or PR effort there appears to small amount of value in this regard. If your focus was on PR value, probably manned Mars exploration, would have more.
      And a significant aspect in terms of PR in terms of sending crew to lunar polar region to determine if and where there is mineable water is necessary step to doing the Mars exploration program, which by exploration could lead to future settlement on Mars.

      I believe a key aspect of Mars exploration is also to determine whether their mineable water on Mars.
      And a simple difference between mineable water on the Moon and Mars is the potential price of mined water. With Mars the price of Mars water has to be about $1 per kg in terms of quantities about 1 million tons of water but in terms of billion of tons it has to less than $1 per kg- or less than $1000 per ton, or per million tons less than 1 billion dollars. That could be sold at. Or settlers could buy million tons of future water use for 1 billion dollars, and with a future reasonable expectation of less than billion dollar per million ton in the future in which many billion of ton of water will be bought.
      Or citizens of US are buying about 600 billion tons per year with total population of 330 million people and costing them far less than 1 million dollar per million ton or less 1/1000th of 1 billion dollar per 1 million tons- or $1 per kg. Or water probably cost on Mars after 100 years of living on it, but it be 10 to 100 times more expensive than what Earthling pay for water. As note the most expensive water on Earth is where you fill water at wells and carry various distance or requiring spending hours each day to get enough water. {Or why an important effort to make drinkable water more easily available is a way lift people out of global poverty].
      With the Moon the price of water needs to be about $500 per kg in terms of a quantity of 10,000 ton or
      $500,000 per ton and 5 billion dollar for 10,000 tons of lunar water.
      If you using the same quantities as Mars, then lunar water would need to be about $100 per kg per million ton of lunar water. But there is not a great need of lunar water in the short term. And water has great value in terms use as rocket fuel.
      Put this way if company can make 10,000 tons of rocket fuel within the first 10 year of operation, the companies value would exceed 50 billion dollars within those 10 years, or worth more than total amount of rocket fuel it’s already sold- because in the future it’s probably going to sell more rocket fuel- a lot more than 10,000 tons of rocket fuel in next 10 years. Or it’s a growth company like Amazon.
      And with Mars settlement in terms price water, you are future access to water- or no one goes to live on Mars to stay less than 1 year, their action of living on Mars is “buying decades of future”.

      • There is water ice at the poles, especially the South. How readily extractable it is does indeed need to be studied, probably requiring landers. Then there is the problem of lack of carbon and nitrogen. Solving that might require rounding up some asteroids.

    • John
      Amortizing the costs of the Apollo Program with commercial spinoffs was never a consideration in Kennedy’s mind. Even the potential priceless scientific knowledge was not a deciding factor. It was more of an afterthought.

      • I know, but NASA advocates claim that much commercial tech since 1958 owes to the agency. Further lunar exploration and exploitation will have to pay.

    • Well, apparently the SpaceX Starship is anticipated to cost $2M per launch to orbit, probably double that for a lunar round trip. The payload capacity is currently slated for 100 metric tons, though performance improvements could push that up to 150 per trip. Even at 150% markup, that would price at $50/kg to orbit, $100/kg to lunar orbit. One-way trips to cost a fair bit more.

  2. I’d love to see a cost/benefit analysis for any proposed commercial mining projects on the moon. Selling moon rocks as novelty items might be the most practical idea.
    I view colonizing the moon, for any reason, as a big waste of time and money. The same goes for Mars, only more so.
    Yes, it’s romantic to think about establishing outposts beyond earth. The I S S is romantic, I guess, if you’re into living in large, sealed, cans.

    • Dave
      Pet Moon Rocks? They’d never sell! Who’d be so stupid as to buy a pet rock?

        • David
          If the USA is the only country supplying pet moon rocks, we could pay with monopoly money! 🙂

    • “I’d love to see a cost/benefit analysis for any proposed commercial mining projects on the moon. Selling moon rocks as novelty items might be the most practical idea.”

      It’s quite expensive exporting lunar rocks, when have bring the rocket fuel from Earth to the moon to lift rocks off the moon. So at moment lunar rocks are worth about $1000 per gram.
      But if had rocket fuel made on the Moon which you could buy, rather lift from Earth, then lunar rocks could sell for around $50 per gram {or less} which is about price of gold per gram. And if sold tens of tonnes lunar rocks per year, the price could lower closer to price of silver. But moment I would buy less than gram of lunar material if it was 30 to 40 dollars. And it seems that when lunar material was selling for price of silver, my less than 1 gram could sell for $50, because baseball cards can more expensive in the future.
      Or I would buy my lunar material in some kind of package, and being in the original package, could make it worth more then it’s then current per gram price of lunar material. Though more important {though related} when buy anything you also are generally buying time.

  3. Darn, gold localities aren’t plotted yet.

    It will be interesting in the future to see how well a map like this stands up–say, relative to the first G. M. Dawson geologic map of Canada–to later ones generated by boots, rock hammers, hand lenses and thin sections, or whatever computer-driven-analyzing-machines replace them.

    One of my pointless-to-anyone-else privileges was to be part of the GSC mapping project of the very last 1:250,000 scale map sheet updates done in Canada, in 1975; that project completed the entire country. I often thought that if I got to go to the moon, even with a sizeable risk of not getting back, but be able to see the rocks there for an appreciable period of time–I’d probably have gone.

    I don’t expect any non-geologist to understand that, and never try to defend it to anyone.

      • Without an active core to mix it back up, most of the gold on the moon sank to the core while it was molten.

          • Earth has an active core, mantle and crust. It’s a diferentiated body with active geology.

          • John,
            Cool. So where’s the gold near volcanoes?
            Activeness is supposed to bring up the gold, right?
            Volcanoes should bring up the gold, according to Mark.

            I’m still boggled by how very dense gold doesn’t sink in active hot magma.

            It is said the core is iron. OK. Gold is denser than iron, why should it be at the top?

          • Anybody foolish enough to waste time sparring with the troll has too much time on their hands.

            The entity calling itself Zoe Phin apparently looks up the conventional explanation for any and every natural phenomenon and takes an indefensible contrarian opinion. My theory is that he/she thinks it’s somehow humorous or ironic and sees it as analogous to climate realism being opposed to conventional climastrology.

            Please don’t feed the troll.

          • Rich,
            My theory is that you’re an idiot that believes the most popular explanations just because they are popular.

            You can’t think, so assume others can’t think either, especially women.

    • Len
      I can relate! I’d even consider a one-way trip to Mars, knowing that I’ve already lived most of my life.

      • Man, am I glad someone else can relate; maybe I’m not a completely foolish adventurist. I remember looking up at the moon on a July night in 1969 from a fly-camp in the Omenica area of northern BC and realizing that as of ‘today’ there were human footprints on it. I remember it well because I’d got notice that day from base camp that I’d just earned a one-month salary bonus for having found (by dirt-bagging) a mineral deposit worth staking!

        Zoe Phin, although I enjoy some of your theories on geothermal energy having worked in that field, please don’t think that we understand everything yet about where gold should be. I’ve long ago concluded that geologists can tell you where gold shouldn’t be; prospectors tell you where it is.

        One of my other privileges was to be the geologist on a project where we tunneled into and through the feeder zone for a Jurassic fossil volcano; I’ve actually seen one from the inside! There was substantial gold mineralization in one of the cone sheet fracture structures; it was a late hydrothermal constituent, but it was there. You might know a lot more about it today if half of it wasn’t faulted off and we couldn’t find it; if it was all there it would have made a mine.

        Also, in the 70’s late one night when doing mineral separations for Rb/Sr dating of my thesis rocks the long-retired-but-still-working Dr. Harry Warren came into the lab I was in and started looking at something under a microscope. He knew that I was teaching crystallography and mineralogy labs at the time and asked me to look through the eye-piece and tell him what I saw–it was a slightly-damaged, but unmistakable, bi-pyramid crystal of gold. It was a sample he had collected just before WW II had cut off gold exploration, and he had retained it for all those years–but it was panned from stream gravel within 100′ of the terminal moraine of a glacier; how did it get there? His theory was that it was cyanide-dissolved from rock by a variety of Freesia that grew in profusion in those moraines, and released upon death every season of the plants; it recrystallized from cyanide solution in gravel in one of the most mechanically-destructive regimes on earth.

        He also told me of re-developing an old adit in the 1930’s that had been abandoned for decades, and had filled with ice. When they mined the ice out of the back of one of the old workings, they found a fracture in the ice, and the fracture was mineralized with gold.

        There is a lot that we don’t yet understand about these processes, and I hope that you will learn along with everyone else as we advance our knowledge; don’t close your mind off just yet.

        • Len
          I was taking my senior Summer field mapping course in 1969. The instructor invited the whole class to his house to watch the Apollo landing on his TV.

          I’m friends with a professor at Miami University (Oxford, OH) who has been studying single gold crystals. We have had conversations about gold crystals growing in soils or alluvial environments, presumably from chloride-complexes at low temperatures. I suspect that the presence of manganese in the country rocks encourages the solution of alluvial gold, where it may subsequently be deposited downstream. However, I’ve never pursued the process in detail.

          • Dr. Warren was quite detailed in his explanation at the time, and said that he felt it was the cyanide that this variety of Freesia secreted by roots to dissolve and obtain the needed minerals; it’s interesting to hear of other possible avenues by which this could occur. My aging memory says that he had indeed studied the plants, confirmed the cyanide that they secrete, and that the distance from where the plants died and released the gold-in-solution to where the gold crystals appeared in gravel was about right for the cyanide to break down. Going downstream from this point gold showed rapidly increasing degradation in form. There were enough different localities where he observed the same parameters to lead to the conclusion.

            I still remember that it took only seconds for me to blurt out with surprise that I was looking at a (tetrahedral?) bi-pyramid of gold. That was certainly one of the more memorable ‘you learn something new every day’ days.

    • Len, thanks for your work on that project, I still have collections of those maps used for hiking and exploring.. I and friends headed out for days and weeks into the bush with nothing but those maps, adventure, nievety and the readiness to dig our way out of anything we encountered.

      You enabled a youth worth living

      • Les–I may not deserve the thanks, we were mapping the geology; the topo maps were already completed and by others. However, if you were carrying the geologic maps for the added information, I couldn’t be happier.

    • If you read the unit descriptions, it’s more of a terrains map. The descriptions mostly refer to texture, color and cratering details.

      This is why I want to see if I can relate lunar samples from the Apollo missions to the geologic units of their landing sites.

    • Sure, and for my doctorate thesis. I transmuted palladium into silver. It’s not economical — the electricity bill was horrendous, the equipment bulky and often uncooperative, and palladium is far more expensive than silver. It’s the principle of the thing.

          • Margaret Burbidge died in SF last month, after a fall, aged 100. She was six years older than Geoffrey, who died in 2010, aged 84, in La Jolla.

            The Nobel committee yet again shamed themselves by awarding the Physics prize to Fowler (d. 1995) but not Hoyle (d. 2001), for nucleosynthesis.

        • They formed in stars. All you need for stars is hydrogen and gravity.

          Is there any crackpot notion for which you’re not a sucker?

          • John,
            The big bang is an anti-gravity phenomena.

            If there is energy in stars to create heavy elements, then it must have been present in the thing that formed the stars – the singularity.

            What, you think stars can do something its parent couldn’t?

            What a joke.

            The singularity had plenty of hydrogen and gravity. Its gravity was even more obscene than stars.

            Is there any mainstream crackpot notion for which you’re not a sucker?

          • John,
            You have correctly observed that “Zoe Phin” always espouses a crackpot theory on any subject.

            There may possibly be a real person by that name and she might even be the same person responsible for Zoe Phin postings here and the blog that she links to. If so, she’s just toying with us (see my posting above).

            The other alternative is that it’s a chatbot. As a work of AI programming, I would have to say that it would be relatively sophisticated. I imagine that it’s programmed to search for alternative theories about (keyword), and then find evidence that many people dispute the alternative (keyword) theory in order to validate that the theory is crackpot, then ingest the phraseology used in the crackpot posting and regurgitate it on the target blog.

            It has sufficient AI to interact with suckers who attempt to educate it, but in the end will never budge regardless of how cogent the arguments that are made.

            Of course the algorithm I described could easily be applied manually by a human troll. I’d lean toward that being the more likely explanation, but would be far more impressed by the AI explanation.

            Please don’t feed the troll.

          • Rich,
            I don’t think AI is capable of detecting bad theories that are popular and coming up with unique criticisms.

            But AI is definitely capable of uncritically repeating popular theory.

            Rich, why you project so much?

            Stop being silly and defend your beliefs scientifically.

          • John,
            If people don’t have good responses to my criticism, but instead wage ad hom attacks, do you think that convinces me I’m wrong? No, it further convinces me I’m right, at least to an extent.

            Don’t debase yourself by giving the impression that you’re a desperate animal trapped in a corner.

            The best strategy is to just say:
            “Zoe, you may have a point”.

    • Every line of evidence reaches the same conclusion about the rough age of the solar system, with no evidence to the contrary.

      • “no evidence to the contrary”

        You don’t look at any contrary evidence. You’re a denier. Your premise is the conclusion. You have no integrity.

          • Please. In addition to the claims about conservation of energy,“Zoe” has come out with the theory that oil does not come from plant life, plant life comes from abiotic oil, plants don’t store solar energy, and elements heavier than iron were not made in stars, but by lightning. I’m sure there has been other nonsense to go with those examples.

            The postings are the prima facie evidence that she’s a troll seeking to detail discussion. I’m going to assume that you just haven’t been paying attention.

  4. Is this basically a topographical survey because the satellite sensors and human, foot based, surveys cannot fill in the information that is available in, say, a geological map of England?. In the latter, ignoring the superficial geology that is a result of glaciation and weathering, the map shows igneous , metamorphic and sedimentary rocks and accompanying geochemical information (limestone , sandstone, granite etc ). Surely we are a long way from that situation on the Moon , ie in commercial terms a long way from deciding where to put the drilling rigs to extract eg lithium, cobalt , rare earths .

    • PS
      Please don’t bother to point out there are no sedimentary formations on the Moon. I am just saying that the current survey is surely just the start of a proper geological and geochemical survey that will take decades and could be one of the most exciting scientific projects of the coming era , provide the money is not wasted on stupid renewables scams. (No doubt then where my sentiments lie) . Already starting on indoctrinating my 7 yr old grand daughter for the project- assuming that it will be international.

      • With respect, the moon is indeed covered with sediments, you don’t need water to form sedimentary deposits. My eldest brother in fact wrote a text book in 1976, titled “Lunar Stratigraphy and Sedimentology” based on his work at NASA studying the samples returned from the Apollo missions.

        • Graham , thank you for the correction – amazing what you can learn here. Being but a humble chemist I had associated sedimentation with lakes, rivers and oceans.
          As to spectroscopy to aid identification of the composition and possible mineral deposits ,I presume this will be reflectance spectroscopy in the visible and NIR. The latter useful for identifying water from the 1st and 2nd overtone bands, albeit they will be weak and broad if the water molecules are H – bonded to each other or to silica. The visible useful for identifying the transition elements , but to what extent will observations be obscured by layers of dust?

          • David
            Yes, and as I recollect (I haven’t paid a lot of attention in recent years) it was the principles of cross-cutting relationships and the superposition of ejecta fields that were used primarily to establish the relative ages of ‘strata’ on the moon for the early maps.

      • There is probably some sedimentary rock and pieces of dinonaurs but they would be extremely rare- say, totals tons over entire surface.
        In terms of mining Moon there is 2 billion tons of hydrogen in top meter of entire lunar surface.
        But also thought to be about 10 billion tons of water near polar regions of the Moon.
        The exact polar region could said to be the tilt of Moon: 1.5 degrees, but could include the Obliquity to orbit: 6.68 degrees.
        But near polar region might less than 10 degree. And Moon is small.
        Earth is about 111 km per degree and moon is about 30 km, so region of 300 km radius.

        If you mine lunar water to make rocket fuel, then there is lots of things to mine, and since easy to sort with a magnet and moving a lot lunar dirt to get lunar water, you probably sort the iron from the water ore.
        A lot of lunar iron is not oxidized iron, but oxidize iron is more valuable, because oxygen is most of mass of rocket fuel and one can fairly easily get oxygen from the iron than oxygen from other minerals.
        Or when splitting water on the moon roughly 1/2 value is the oxygen- which not the case on Earth.
        Rocket fuel is liquid Hydrogen and Oxygen, which is 6 kg of Oxygen per 1 kg of hydrogen.
        Split water is 8 kg of oxygen and 1 kg of hydrogen from 9 kg of water.
        A kg of lunar hydrogen is worth more than kg of lunar oxygen.
        If lunar water is worth $500 per kg, liquid oxygen {LOX} is worth about $1000 per kg and liquid Hydrogen is worth at least $4000 per kg.
        6 kg of LOX at $1000 is 6000 and plus $4000 for LH2 is 7 kg of rocket fuel and
        $10,000 of 7 kg rocket is 10,000 / 7 = 1428.57 per kg of rocket fuel. If instead LH2 is priced at
        $8000 per kg, then 14000 / 7 = $2000 per kg of rocket fuel. So in that case LH2 is same value from the 9 kg of water split: 8 kg LOX= 8000 and 1 kg Hydrogen = 8000.
        What “controls” price of rocket fuel is the cheapness of LOX.
        Or on Earth LOX is cheap, and Earth rocket fuel can be cheap.
        And 40% of mass of lunar surface is oxygen. Lunar rocket fuel will be quite cheap, but if start at
        $2000 per kg or less it’s already cheap. And to lessen the glut of O2 on the moon one can export LOX {or most of mass of rocket fuel].
        So, next iron, and if hydrogen is excessively expensive, mine the H2.
        But another option is importing Earth Hydrogen. Or reason I say hydrogen is worth about $4000 is $8000 per kg would close to imported Earth Hydrogen, but $1000 LOX is not vaguely close.
        So could export LOX to low lunar orbit and import LH2 from Earth to low lunar orbit, until the time Lunar hydrogen was cheaper to export as compared to Earth exported LH2. Which might occur within 10 or 20 years. And then one can export lunar hydrogen to Mars- anywhere at Earth high orbit and beyond. Then, get lunar Lunar hydrogen cheaper at Low Earth orbit, but you can send LH2 with cannon from Earth surface, so that could be hard to beat. But much easier using cannon from the Moon {or some other mass driver}. And cannons or other mass driver need lots of iron.
        And Mining H2 would require lots of lunar iron and other metals. Or eventually, the Moon will mine more iron than Earth does. And become cheaper than Earth iron- in more than a century or two. But high concentration iron ore within first couple decades would be worth about $100,000 per ton on Moon [and exporting any iron manufactured products just low lunar orbit makes it millions of dollars per ton- and so probably go with less the less density metals if exporting to Earth orbits].

  5. I look at the moon as our savior. Look at how many meteors and asteroids and such that hit the moon instead of the earth.

    On a side note, I’m happy to know it’s not made of cheese. 🙂

  6. I am curious as to why startram stage 1 is not constructed. For non-biological payloads it promises to reduce orbital launch costs to $50 per kilogram verses $5000 per kilogram using rockets. Having such a facility would have to greatly reduce the cost of the ISS, which is 150 billion USD. Startram stage 1 is proposed to be 20 billion usd.

    • “I am curious as to why startram stage 1 is not constructed. For non-biological payloads it promises to reduce orbital launch costs to $50 per kilogram verses $5000 per kilogram using rockets. ”

      Current rocket do about $2000 per kg. And rocket launch costs to LEO, depend upon amount payload per year or amount rocket launches per year. Ie, SpaceX does about 20 launches per year, if SpaceX could more than 50, it might 1/2 there per kg payload price to LEO.

      Anyways, I don’t know what startram stage is.
      But I have weird idea I call a pipelauncher.
      Which is way to launch rockets from the ocean.
      And one thing it does is lower gravity loss, and as guess perhaps this “startram stage” also reduces
      gravity loss {perhaps cheaper and reduces more gravity loss than my idea pipelauncher} and if
      does, $50 per kg to LEO might be possible, but would say roughly you need at least 100 launches per year, as guess.
      But if get launch cost down to about $100 per kg {or less} to GEO, then in the neighborhood being able to launch Space Power Satellites, which could be on order thousands of launches per year.
      The other thing about $50 per kg to LEO, is the suborbital market, which again allows for a lot launches per year. And in terms of suborbital and larger portion of delta-v is “lost” to gravity loss.

      • Looked it up:
        “StarTram is a proposed space launch system propelled by maglev. The initial Generation 1 facility would launch cargo only, launching from a mountain peak at an altitude of 3 to 7 kilometres (1.9 to 4.3 mi) with an evacuated tube staying at local surface level; it has been claimed that about 150,000 tons could be lifted to orbit annually. More advanced technology would be required for the Generation 2 system for passengers, with a longer track instead gradually curving up at its end to the thinner air at 22 kilometres (14 mi) altitude, supported by magnetic levitation, reducing g-forces when each capsule transitions from the vacuum tube to the atmosphere.”
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/StarTram

        So some kind of mass driver { maglev or cannon} can lower launch cost.
        What the launch cost would be is primarily the cost building and maintaining the infrastructure.
        This kind of thing would work really well on the Moon. And how build stuff like an L-5 colony- which requires a huge amount mass lifted and could doing a 1000 launches per year.
        Using 1000 times per year is roughly 100 times cheaper than 10 launches per year.
        But the fastest any Maglev train has gone is…603 km/hour [375 mph].
        That doesn’t get you to orbit, but if going vertical it reduces gravity losses, and also perhaps if going at 45 degree angle. And gravity losses are +1 km/sec {1 km/sec = 3600 kph or 2232 mph].
        wiki:
        “For example, to reach a speed of 7.8 km/s in low Earth orbit requires a delta-v of between 9 and 10 km/s. The additional 1.5 to 2 km/s delta-v is due to gravity losses and atmospheric drag.”
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravity_drag
        [And some steering loss]
        If doing at say less 30 degree, you add to atmospheric drag and perhaps not lower gravity loss by much, but rocket engine performs better in a less dense atmosphere and have that factor.

        My pipelauncher idea would add about 100 mph to rocket, it would be vertical, lower gravity and atmospheric drag, and not add any steering loss. And improve a rocket engine performance by getting to thin air, faster.
        If you are crazy {or technology improves} you could add 300 mph to to the rocket with something like a pipelauncher. And can design pipelauncher which lift, the 5000 ton Starship {SpaceX’s monster} but I limited it to only adding 50 mph. But it launches from the ocean, and still would “lower gravity and atmospheric drag, and not add any steering loss. And improve a rocket engine performance by getting to thin air, faster” but not as much as 100 mph.
        The cost of pipelauncher would be development and testing, and if making many of them a unit cost somewhere less than 10 million dollars. But I think better to test the general idea with something much smaller than a Starship. Or I needed employ some special tricks to do 5000 tons. But didn’t need to use carbon fiber- I believe using same metal as that Starship uses {or stainless steel which apparently is very corrosive resistance to saltwater].

  7. This is not what I would call a Geology Map, it’s more of a Geography Map. Still cool, but I am used to seeing the types of rock bands (or beds) and maybe even the general chemical signatures of the types of rock in a Geology Map.

    i.e. “Silty Limestone, Compressed Grey Volcanic Tuff, Iron Rich Sandstone”, etc.

    Tell the USGS people to get their butts back out there and SURVEY! (<- Yes, joking)

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