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China has unveiled the world’s first high-definition moon atlas

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A new and improved atlas of the moon’s surface was published in China on Sunday, based mainly on data compiled from Chinese lunar missions, the South China Morning Post reports.

The Geologic Atlas of the Lunar Globe is the first major update on such moon data since Nasa’s Apollo programme in the 1960s and 1970s. Twelve years in the making, the new maps are at a 1:2.5 million scale – offering significantly more detail than the previous scale of 1:5 million.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) atlas also provides up-to-date scientific references for future lunar research and exploration, helping with the likes of landing zone site selection, resource exploration and lunar station planning. It has been published in Chinese and English.

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Chief editor Ouyang Ziyuan, a major figure in China’s space programme, said that atlas was “of great significance for studying the evolution of the moon” and could also help scientists better understand the Earth and other planets.

Ouyang began the mapping project in 2012 with fellow geologist Liu Jianzhong, who is the atlas’ executive editor. Liu described the work as representative of “China’s contribution to the study of the origin and evolution of the moon and the solar system.”

According to the CAS, the atlas’ information has already been integrated into a digital lunar cloud platform built by Chinese scientists. China launched its lunar exploration programme in 2004.

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