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Lunar Orbiter Digitization Project

What's New!

Individual, cartographically controlled and cosmetically processed Lunar Orbiter (LO) global and very high resolution digital frame mosaics are now available for downloaded via FTP from the PDS Imaging Node's FTP site. This online data collection includes versions of the global medium (200-1000m) and high (40-200m) resolution frames that were used to create the Lunar Orbiter mosaic as well as very high resolution medium (4-34m) and high (0.5-4m) resolution frames cartographically controlled to the LO global dataset. These products are available in both an ISIS 2 (cube) and GeoJpeg2000 format, in equirectangular (for 'equatorial') or polar stereographic projection. See this Lunar Orbiter Frame Mosaics document (Portable Document Format, PDF format, 40KB) and this ArcMap basics document (PDF Format, 22KB) for more information and guidance. We will provide preview images and links to these files through this sites' coverage maps and download pages in the near future.

As a reminder, the global mosaic is available through the PDS Map-a-Planet web site as well as the U.S.G.S. Planetary GIS Web Server ( PIGWAD). The mosaic has also been included as a layer in the PIGWAD Apollo Footprint Viewer. This LO mosaic has been tied to the Unified Lunar Control Network (ULCN) 2005, and was constructed with frames from LO missions III, IV, and V; both high and medium resolution cameras. More information regarding this digital mosaic will be made available on the Map-a-Planet web site.

Please visit both the Global and Very High Resolution Coverage Status Maps & Data Download pages for additional updates available through each of these sites.



[Global: Status Maps and Data Download]

Global: Status & Download
Access the latest data releases and view maps showing the processing status of the Lunar Orbiter frames that will be used to create a global mosaic of the Moon.

[Very High Resolution: Status Maps]

Very High Resolution:
Status & Download

Access the latest data releases and view maps showing the processing status of the very high resolution Lunar Orbiter frames from missions III and V.

Five Lunar Orbiter missions were launched in 1966 and 1967 to study the Moon. The first three missions were devoted to mapping potential lunar landing sites. The fourth and fifth missions were intended for broader scientific goals. Lunar Orbiter 4 photographed the near-side and 95% of the far-side of the Moon. Lunar Orbiter 5 completed the photography of the far-side and collected medium- and high- resolution imagery of 36 preselected regions.

Lunar Orbiter (LO) images were photographic products acquired on the spacecraft during those five missions (LO-I through -V). Each LO exposure resulted in two photographs - those recorded by the 80-mm focal-length lens are referred to as medium-resolution frames; and those recorded by the 610-mm focal length lens are referred to as high-resolution frames. The full LO dataset consists of 967 medium resolution (MR) and 983 high resolution (HR) frames. Due to their large size, HR frames have traditionally been divided into three sections (referred to as sub-frames).

Prior to being placed onboard the spacecraft, the photographic film was exposed with strip numbers, a nine-level grayscale bar, resolving power chart, and reseau marks. The original photograph was scanned into a series of strips onboard the spacecraft and then transmitted to Earth as analog data. Photographic prints from these film strips were hand mosaicked into sub-frame (for HR data) and full-frame (for MR data) views and widely distributed. The resulting outstanding views were of generally very high spatial resolution (e.g., ~1 to 1000 m, depending on the mission) and covered a substantial portion of the lunar surface. However, these products contained anomalies such as "venetian blind" striping, missing or duplicated data, and frequent saturation effects that hampered their use.


Project Overview

Global Coverage

As they are produced, constructed LO frames for the global product are being made available at 100-micron resolution through this web interface. See the Status Maps & Data Download page for frame construction status and for access the currently available data.

Very High Resolution Coverage

Concurrent with the global project effort is the task of digitizing and archiving many of the near-side, low altitude LO photography. LO mission III photographed areas primarily to locate and confirm suitable landing sites for the Apollo program (designated as primary (P) and secondary (S) sites). The most promising landing sites were certified during LO mission V, which also imaged a number of sites of scientific interest. Ground resolutions for both data sets ranged from 1 - 40 m. Visit the Status Maps & Data Download pages for current scanning status and for access to 100-micron resolution data products available for download.

Notes about Image Artifacts

Artifacts of various dimensions and occurrences may be observed in some of the photographs. These artifacts are directly related to the methods of film development, the readout system, the video data, or the ground reconstruction electronics (GRE). Processing performed by USGS does not attempt to remove or correct these artifacts. Examples of such artifacts can be seen in global sub-frames 085H3, 053H3 and 143H3, as well as in very high resolution LO III frame 145M and LO V sub-frame 067H3.

For additional details about the scanning and processing of the Lunar Orbiter data, see LPS abstracts indicated below.


References & Related Information

References & Publications

PDF documents may be viewed with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Related Topics on the USGS Astrogeology Website

  • Earth's Moon Learn about some of our many lunar projects and research, view and download lunar image and map projects, and find lunar resources on the web
  • Lunar Orbiter Mission Information about the Lunar Orbiter mission, our mission-related projects, and other Lunar Orbiter mission sites on the web
  • Clementine Mission Information about the Clementine mission, our mission-related projects, and other Clementine mission sites on the web
  • Image Processing Links to our Image processing related projects
  • Images & Maps View and download our image and cartography products and learn more about our projects

USGS & NASA Websites of Interests

Web Site Status & Disclaimer

Because of the ongoing nature of this project, information presented on this webpage is preliminary in nature. This information is provided with the understanding that it is not guaranteed to be complete, and conclusions drawn from such information are the responsibility of the user.

As they are produced, constructed LO frames are being made available at 100-micron resolution through this web interface. The constructed frames at 50-micron or the individual scanned film strips at 25-micron can be made available upon request. Please send requests to one of the technical contacts listed below.

Downloadable images containing the modifiers _raw, _nodash, or _cosmo are not in a map projected format. Those containing the modifier _equi or _pola have been map projected.


This material is based upon work supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration through the Office of Space Science. Image credit: NASA/USGS.

For information, contact:

Tammy Becker
Global Coverage - Technical Contact
2255 N. Gemini Drive
Flagstaff, AZ 86001

Lynn Weller
Very High Resolution Coverage - Technical Contact
2255 N. Gemini Drive
Flagstaff, AZ 86001

Lisa Gaddis
Science Contact
2255 N. Gemini Drive
Flagstaff, AZ 86001

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