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After buzzing around the moon for two years, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has beamed more than 192 terabytes of data back to its home planet — more than all the printed information contained in the U.S. Library of Congress, says project scientist Richard Vondrak of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Among those data are 4 billion measurements made by the orbiter’s laser altimeter, which allowed scientists to construct a detailed elevation map of the moon’s pockmarked surface. An animation of the moon’s rotation shows the orbiter’s data compared with maps made in 2005 by the U.S. Geological Survey’s Unified Lunar Control Network. Scientists presented the animation during a conference held on June 21. “We go from a relatively fuzzy moon that kind of looks out of focus, to one that’s sharp and very well-defined,” says NASA’s Michael Wargo, chief lunar scientist for exploration.

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For the NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Image Archive, click here.
Category: Science