National Geographic : 2011 Mar
Moon MOON Mean surface height Highest point 35,400 ft Lowest point -29,954 ft 65,029 ft Total range = 65,354 ft EARTH Sea level Earth Mt. Everest 29,035 ft Challenger Deep -35,994 ft Near side(fa cesE arth) Farsi de Near side (facesEarth) Farside HIGHEST POINT A B Profile below LOWEST POINT Apollo 11 landing site Previous New B A 0mi 400 0km 400 SAM PEPPLE. SOURCE: NASA LUNAR ORBITER LASER ALTIMETER SPACE Move over, man in the moon. Now there's more to see, thanks to the first detailed lunar-surface map. Since 2009 NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has been bouncing laser beams off the moon to gauge elevation. Last fall the results emerged as a high-resolution map (above), including a point over a mile higher than Mount Everest and a complete catalog of 5,185 craters wider than 12.5 miles. The impact pattern suggests that around 3.8 billion years ago two asteroid storms pelted the moon and the Earth, whose dynamic crust retains fewer celestial fingerprints. Also newly found: frozen water in craters at the lunar poles---the coldest known spots in our solar system. "This is a renaissance period in moon studies," says NASA's Richard Vondrak. With surveys of Mars and Mercury also under way, more cosmic folklore may soon be jettisoned as well. ---Jeremy Berlin The New Moon A rich lunar portrait---and an early history of our solar system---is emerging from a wealth of fresh topographic data. MOON BEAMED Three billion surface readings by the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter reveal a land- scape more rugged than previously thought.