NASA has recently released a brand new set of data for the CGI creators. They come with a detailed 3D map of the Moon. We are talking about the CGI Moon Kit, the data that has been given by Goddard Space Flight Center from NASA. This kit is available for free, and it comes with different options. Ernie Wright, a science visualization expert, said that the CGI data that he had found for other researchers were quite popular with 3D artists.
For them to catch the mentioned depth data, LRO – Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (a spacecraft that has been orbiting the Moon for more than ten years) – used a high-quality camera.
But they needed something more
LRO can only catch a glimpse of a small portion at a time, due to the fact that it is orbiting the Moon. The camera that is always taking pictures of the surface of the Moon was able to capture the entire visible area of the Moon. But the camera only took pictures of different parts of the surface of the Moon. For it to recreate the lunar surface, it needed a second instrument on LRO – the laser altimeter.
According to some sources, this laser altimeter works like any other kind of orbital laser that you might have around the house. It sends a pulsed laser to the surface of the Moon, and it tracks how long it takes to come back, and how strong it is. With its help, we can see how far away the surface it, and its altitude, down to half of a meter. It also tells us what that surface is like – a hard rocky structure, or a soft structure.