‘Unprecedented’ Topo Maps of the Moon

Data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) is leading to “the most precise and complete map to date of the moon’s complex, heavily cratered landscape,” NASA said last week.

The new LOLA maps are more accurate and sample more places on the lunar surface than any available before. “The positional errors of image mosaics of the lunar far side, where direct spacecraft tracking – the most accurate — is unavailable, have been one to ten kilometers (about 0.62 to 6.2 miles),” said [Dr. Gregory] Neumann. “We’re beating these down to the level of 30 meters (almost 100 feet) or less spatially and one meter (almost 3.3 feet) vertically. At the poles, where illumination rarely provides more than a glimpse of the topography below the crater peaks, we found systematic horizontal errors of hundreds of meters (hundreds of yards) as well.” In terms of coverage, the nearly three billion range measurements so far by LRO compare to about eight million to nine million each from three recent international lunar missions, according to Neumann. “They were limited to a mile or so between individual data points, whereas our measurements are spaced about 57 meters (about 187 feet) apart in five adjacent tracks separated by about 15 meters (almost 50 feet).”

NASA's LRO Creating Unprecedented Topographic Map of Moon

Which is NASA-speak for “LOLA pwns Kaguya,” I guess. More here, including nice hemispheral views of the topographic maps.

Google Earth Pro 6: Measure your world in 3D

We’re excited to announce a new addition to the Advanced Measurement Tool Suite in Google Earth Pro: you can now measure in 3D!

Pro customers recently ranked Area Measurement as one of the most valuable Google Earth Pro tools, so we wanted to add more to the package. In a continued effort to mirror the real world, allowing you to lift measurements off the ground and extend them in to the 3D realm seemed a natural next step.

We think these tools will be beneficial to our customers as there are limitless applications for their use. 3D Measurements can be used by engineers to plan wind farms, real estate firms to determine skyline views for new high rise buildings, construction companies to measure the materials needed for a retrofitting, architects to calculate the space between buildings, and more.

To measure buildings and distances between buildings, just turn on the 3D Buildings layer and click the Ruler Tool icon in the toolbar. If you’re running Google Earth Pro, you’ll notice two new tabs for measuring in 3D: 3D Path and 3D Polygon.

Here are a few examples of what the new Pro 3D Measurement Tools have to offer.

Measure the height or width of a 3D building: