NASA offers 3D images of the entire Moon, made for those who specialize in computer graphics as well as artists.
If you are a graphic artist and want to make a movie or game based on the Moon, it is not difficult to find images of the moon. But NASA has just released a useful, beautiful and new set of 3D graphics and data-only graphics creators that includes not only flat images but also depth, making it simple to create a detailed 3D map of the Moon.
The CGI Moon Kit comes from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, where Ernie Wright found that the Moon data he had collected (for other purposes) would be quite popular with 3D artists.
The data came from two organs located on top NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, a space satellite orbiting the moon for over a decade, taking pictures and taking measurements all the time.
On the satellite there is a high quality camera, which has been used to build an amazing high quality map of the lunar surface. The camera can capture only a tiny bit at a time, but it does so constantly and as the satellite orbits it, it has captured almost the entire visible area of the Moon. Although some dark areas cannot be visualized even after passing the satellite thousands of times.
But photos are only part of the map. To create the 3D model of the Moon's surface, NASA also has a height-measuring laser. This sends a pulsating laser beam to the surface and monitors both the time it takes to come back and how strong it returns. It thus collects how far the surface (and therefore the altitude) is half an meter accurate, and what kind of surface it is, such as hard rock or soft dust, etc.
This data is aggregated and a topographic map is created where the color differs instead of even lines. There are two variants of this map, but the basic use is the same. You print the map on a surface and then wrap it around a globe and you have a virtual topographic world of the Moon.
Watch the video below:
NASA's CGI Moon Kit is free to download and all data is available with some options that only 3D artists will probably understand. You can find out more about it and get it by clicking here .