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Newly released images show the moon like you've never seen it before

Newly released images of the moon show it in more detail than ever before. (Credit: NASA/GSFC/USGS)

You may gaze up into the night sky in a whole new way after looking at newly released images of the moon that show it in more detail than ever before.

When we look into the night sky on a clear night, we can see only the basics of the moon's geography and geology. For starters, we can see only the near side of the moon from Earth. And while we can see some of the topographical features, especially with a telescope, most of the details of what the moon's surface is truly like are left to our imaginations.

However, newly released maps show the moon in an entirely new light, with much more detail than the general population has ever seen before. The images show an explosion of color over the moon's surface, but the colors in the images are only meant to represent various geographic and geologic features. 

Scientists were able to create the new digital map of the moon using information gleaned from six Apollo-era regional maps as well as updated information from recent satellite missions to the moon, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. They then redrew the historical maps to align them with the most recent data. Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey were also able to develop unified descriptions of the moon's rock layers, correcting inconsistencies in previous maps.

 “This map is a culmination of a decades-long project,” Corey Fortezzo, USGS geologist and lead author of the new lunar map and report, said in a release. “It provides vital information for new scientific studies by connecting the exploration of specific sites on the moon with the rest of the lunar surface.”

You can get an up-close look at the newly released images, called the Unified Geologic Map of the Moon, on the USGS website.

These latest images further add to our understanding of Earth's only moon, one of more than 190 moons in our solar system, according to NASA. While fascination with the moon dates back to the beginning of human time, it's only in the past century that we've been able to explore it more in-depth.

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