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Powerful Pixels: Mapping The “Apollo Zone”.
Grayscale pixels – up close, they look like black, white or grey squares. But when you zoom out to see the bigger picture, they can create a digital photograph, like this one of our moon: High Resolution Image Here.

"The key innovation that we made was to create a fully automatic image mosaicking and terrain modeling software system for orbital imagery," said Terry Fong, director of IRG. "We have since released this software in several open-source libraries including Ames Stereo PipelineNeo-Geography Toolkit and NASA Vision Workbench.”

Lunar imagery of varying coverage and resolution has been released for general use for some time. In 2009, the IRG helped Google develop “Moon in Google Earth”, an interactive, 3D atlas of the moon. With “Moon in Google Earth”, users can explore a virtual moonscape, including imagery captured by the Apollo, Clementine and Lunar Orbiter missions. 

The Apollo Zone project uses imagery recently scanned at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, by a team from Arizona State University. The source images themselves are large – 20,000 pixels by 20,000 pixels, and the IRG aligned and processed more than 4,000 of them. To process the maps, they used Ames’ Pleiades supercomputer. 

The initial goal of the project was to build large-scale image mosaics and terrain maps to support future lunar exploration. However, the project’s progress will have long-lasting technological impacts on many targets of future exploration.

To view the maps, visit the LMMP site or view in Google Earth:

  1. Download Google Earth at: http://earth.google.com
  2. Click here to download a KML file for viewing in Google Earth:
    http://byss.ndc.nasa.gov/stereopipeline/dataviz/apollo_metric.kml
  3. Once you open that file in Google Earth you will have options to view these “Apollo Zone” maps overlaid on Google Earth’s “Moon mode”.

Make sure to read the full article over at NASA, which explains much more on how they achieved these amazing photos.