China reveals high-resolution full moon map

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The Full moon map captured by Chang'e-2.

China released a set of high-resolution full moon map and moon images Monday.

With a resolution of seven meters, 746 pictures were captured by the country's second moon orbiter, the Chang'e-2.

This is the first time the world obtained and published the 100 percent coverage of moon images with the resolution of seven meters or better, according to the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence.

The images were photographed by a charge-coupled device (CCD) stereo camera on the Chang'e-2 from heights of 100 km and 15 km over the lunar surface between October 2010 and May 2011, according to a statement from SASTIND.

The resolution of the images obtained from Chang'e-2 is 17 times greater than those taken by the its predecessor, the Chang'e-1.

If there were airports and harbors on the moon, the Chang'e-1 could simply identify them, while the Chang'e-2 would be able to detect planes or ships inside of them, said Tong Qingxi, an academic from the Institute of Remote Sensing Applications under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The scientists also spotted traces of the previous Apollo mission in the images, said Yan Jun, chief application scientist for China's lunar exploration project.

Several countries, including the United States, have obtained lunar images with higher resolution, but have not published full-coverage images of the moon with a resolution of seven meters or greater, as China has done, Tong said.

Scientists have made adjustments to the original data to more accurately reflect the topographic and geomorphologic features of the moon, the SASTIND statement said.

Chang'e-2, named after a legendary Chinese moon goddess, was launched on Oct. 1, 2010. It is now orbiting the second Lagrange Point (L2) more than 1.5 million kilometers away from Earth.

China published its first full map of the moon in November 2008, about a year after its first lunar probe -- Chang'e-1 -- was launched.

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