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August 6, 2009

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Detailed 3D moon map due soon

CHINA will complete a three-dimensional topographic map of the moon by the end of next month, the project's chief designer said yesterday, adding that the map will be the "clearest" in the world.

"Currently, most of the lunar topographic maps were made by data acquired by laser altimeter instruments. With the large amount of highly detailed images taken by Chang'e-1, the map we are making will be of the highest resolution in the world," said Li Chunlai, chief designer of the ground application system with the project.

Chang'e-1 acquired more than 9 million pieces of valid elevation data, which enabled the country's scientists to make a topographic map with 3-kilometer resolution per pixel, said Li, also a senior official with the National Astronomical Observatories under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The topographic map will serve as a guide for future lunar rovers to search the moon surface for geological resources.

According to an earlier edition of Science Daily, an international research team published the most detailed topographic lunar map in the February 13 issue of journal Science. The resolution was 15 kilometers per pixel.

In November last year, China created the country's first full map of the lunar surface with the image data captured by the satellite-born camera on Chang'e-1.

China launched its lunar program in 2007 by successfully sending the unmanned probe Chang'e-1 into orbit. On March 1, the probe hit the moon and ended its 16-month mission.

China plans to land and launch a rover vehicle on the moon around 2012 and will try to recover a spacecraft carrying samples from the moon by 2017.


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