NASA's 4K Moon Video Tour Will Blow You Away

NASA has released a spectacular 4K resolution video tour of the Moon based on data and images collected by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), which has been orbiting our only natural satellite since 2009.

The tour visits numerous sites of interest (detailed individually in this Tumblr post) that LRO has helped to shed light on. Many of these are on the Moon's near-side and are familiar to both professional and amateur astronomers alike, while others can only be clearly seen from space.

The LRO data is helping NASA plan future lunar missions, while also providing new insights into the moon's structure and evolution.

One stop on the tour is the Moon's North Pole. Using LRO data, scientists have identified mountain peaks and crater rims in this region that have consistent sun exposure. These areas could be ideal sites to place solar panels for the support of future human missions.

Another feature visited by the tour is the Aristarchus Plateau, which contains a crater so bright it is actually visible with the naked eye from Earth. This region is covered in rocks from volcanic eruptions and marked by river-like structures created by ancient lava flows. It is particularly interesting to researchers, not only as a potential landing site, but also because it serves as a record of the Moon's volcanic history.

The tour also stops by the Texas-sized Orientale Basin—the best-preserved impact structure on the Moon. Topography data from LRO combined with gravity measurements from NASA's GRAIL spacecraft has revealed the structure below the basin, helping scientists understand the geological consequences of large impacts.

Image of the Moon taken by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). NASA

The video also looks at the South Pole—where some of the coldest temperatures in the Solar System have been recorded—the vast Pole-Aitken Basin on the Moon's far side—which extends across more than 1,550 miles—and the mysterious Tycho Crater—whose origins remain unexplained.

"LRO was designed as a one-year mission," NASA wrote in the Tumblr post. "Thanks to its many orbits around the Moon, we have been able to expand on lunar science from the Apollo missions while paving the way for future lunar exploration. And as the mission continues to gather data, it will provide us with many more opportunities to take a tour of our Moon."