NASA releases detailed 3D map of the Moon for CGI artists and creators

In order to capture the depth data, two instruments on Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter was used.

NASA has released a new set of depth data for CGI creators which basically includes a detailed 3D map of the Moon.

Called the CGI Moon Kit, the data has been shared by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. The kit is available for free and the renders have a few different options. Apparently, science visualization expert Ernie Wright found that CGI data he had assembled for other research purposes was proving popular with 3D artists.

In order to capture the mentioned depth data, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's (LRO) ⁠— a spacecraft that has been orbiting the moon for over a decade ⁠— on-board high-quality camera was used.

NASA releases detailed 3D map of the Moon for CGI artists and creators

A 3D map of the moon. Image: NASA

The LRO can apparently only capture a small portion at a time, however, because it is constantly orbiting the moon, the camera which is almost constantly taking pictures of the Lunar surface was able to capture pretty much the entire visible area of the Moon.

However, the camera is only able to take pictures of different part of the Lunar surface. In order to recreate the surface of the Moon, a second instrument on LRO was used, which is called a laser altimeter.


TechCrunch explains, "The laser altimeter works like any typical orbital laser ranger you have around the house. It sends a pulsed laser towards the surface and tracks both how long it takes to come back and how strong it is. These tell the device how far away the surface is (and therefore its altitude) down to half a meter, and what that surface is like, for instance, a hard rocky structure or soft powdered regolith."

If you are still wondering what this data would be of use to a CGI creator, maybe your next PUBG map will be on the lunar surface, maybe you land in a human colony on the Moon!

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