The Moon is fairly important in pop culture. From movies to games, you can see the moon everywhere! And now, NASA is making sure that CGI artists and creators have a repository of data to go to whenever they want to create highly detailed maps of our satellite. The data has now been made available to everyone, and is backed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

The  data is based upon inputs from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which ranges from normal pictures of the lunar landscape to highly detailed topical maps courtesy of the laser altimeter attached with the orbital lander. The altimeter here, basically sends a strong pulse at the surface of the moon, and measures things like distance from surface, type of surface etc. based on the reflection of the same

This data is then used to create a displacement map, which can be laid down on top of a photographic map to create a virtual, topographic globe! I know it sounds fairly complicated, but it is much simpler and a very useful for artists and creators, who now have an actual, live frame-of-reference.

In fact, the data set is so detailed, that you can easily leverage it to design a moon-based game, or come up with highly detailed pictures/renditions. Considering that NASA is making it available for free, you can expect artists and content creators to draw content from this initiative to power some major moon-related projects in the near future.

To learn more about the kit and download it, click here.