JINAN, China, Nov. 4, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — In a short communication published in Science Bulletin on Oct. 31, 2022, a team led by scientists from Shandong University presents a global lithologic map of the Moon with the highest resolution (at a 1:2,500,000 scale) for the first time, which is a fruit of efforts from dozens of researchers in the past decade. This map provides an important reference for lunar geologic studies, mission planning, and landing site selections in future lunar explorations.
Scientific knowledge of lunar materials was first acquired in the 1960s–1970s. However, the first series of lunar maps published in that era showed only morphological features but lacked compositional information. After two decades of silence, a new era of lunar exploration began in the 1990s. The very successful orbital missions provided the first global compositional datasets of the lunar surface. The 21st century is an exciting era for lunar exploration. Various missions were carried out by space agencies in Europe, Japan, India, and the U.S. China started its lunar exploration (Chang’e) program in 2004 and has already launched two orbital missions. These missions collect diverse datasets that are valuable in integrated research on lunar materials, improve our understanding of lunar evolution, and provide primary sources for this mapping effort.
Shandong University participated in Chang’e missions from as early as 2008. With the technical successes of Chang’e missions, scientists from Shandong University made contributions to the interpretations of spectroscopic datasets returned by Chang’e missions.
On December 22, 2015, scientists from SDU published a paper on Nature Communications and announced the discovery of a new type of lunar basalt by analyzing the data returned from Yutu rover (Chang’e-3 mission). Recently, based on the data collected by Yutu-2, the Chang’e-4 rover, scientists from SDU proposed a hypothesis of crustal backfill to help solve the riddle of the Moon’s largest crater, South Pole-Aitken basin.
The lithologic map of the Moon was also based on spectroscopic datasets from Chang’e missions. Scientists from SDU developed the data reduction processes of Chang’e-1 Imaging Interferometer. Subsequently, the Chang’e datasets were integrated with products from international lunar exploration missions and information gained from five preceding decades of lunar sample studies. A systematic classification scheme for lunar rocks was reconstructed to map the composition and evolution of the Moon.
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