If you can't seem to get a hold of a ticket to the Moon, fret not -- NASA intends to help you see all the attractions without ever having to leave your chair.
In the fall of 2011, NASA released its original Tour of the Moon: a five-minute clip that takes viewers on a virtual tour of the Moon we know and love. The clip was created using data beamed back by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), which, at the time, had spent roughly two years hiking about and studying Earth's satellite.
It's been six years since then, and NASA hasn't been wasting time. The Agency has recreated the Tour in blockbuster-worthy 4k, using the same camera path, but drawing on the much-expanded pool of knowledge the LRO gathered for us since. It feels like an odd (but awesome) crossover between a vacation promo and a science documentary, moving between regular views and colorful, digitally-enhanced footage that shows off some the moon's fascinating geologic features -- all set to a symphonic soundtrack that bellows just under the voice-over.
Without further ado, here it is:
The constantly-shadowed areas near the poles pose obvious difficulty for photographers trying to capture a pic -- so NASA measured the areas using altimetry. Landing sites closer to the equator, where there's light aplenty, were imaged in resolutions as high as 10 inches / 25 centimeters per pixel.
The new tour also takes a look at the mineral composition of the Aristarchus plateau, follows evidence of surface water ice in some areas near the south pole, and a glimpse at the Orientale basin's gravitational profile.