Moon Topology based upon the Clementine data

Written by Paul Bourke
June 2002


In 1994 the Clementine mission to the moon was launched. The mission gathered a large collection of high resolution images but also collected topology data using laser ranging altimetry (LIDAR). The mapping started near the end of February 1994 and lasted about two months, one month per hemisphere. The following image is a reduced version of the topology data, the lighter the region the higher the topology.

Polar coordinate map

Unfortunately, while the resolution of this topology data is adequate for distant images it isn't nearly high enough for close encounters. The elevation samples are at approximately 1/4 x 1/4 degree steps, each sample is an offset to a sphere of 1738km (flattening of 1/3234.93), in other words at the equator the grid is about 7.5km. It is my "guess" that ever there samples are not particularly independent of neighbours further reducing the real resolution.

Another limitation of the data is that it only ranges from 60 North to 60 South latitude so there is no data to within 30 degrees of either pole.

Height exaggeration: 10
Distance: 4262km above surface
Distance: 3150km above surface
Height exaggeration: 3
Distance: 2706km above surface
Distance: 1818km above surface