One of the first lunar products created by ACIC was the Lunar Reference Mosaic, which depicted names of features, such as craters and plains, and showed the features’ latitude-longitude positions. To create the Lunar Reference Mosaic, ACIC personnel pieced together separate photographs of the moon’s surface to create one complete image of the moon.
The process was tricky, like putting together a puzzle. All the photos needed to show the same solar illumination — otherwise, shadows would be cast differently in different photographs.
Next, the photographs needed to be put in the right place on a selenographic reference projection, which is analogous to the geographic reference system of latitudes and longitudes used for maps of Earth, said Raymond Helmering, former lunar mapping technical manager for ACIC. The cartographers had to make sure all lunar features were continuous at the photo boundaries, and that each photo was in the right position on the lunar map reference grid, Helmering said.
Helmering also credited the expert work performed by the ACIC Photographic Lab and Reproduction Facilities. “The Lunar Mosaic was the result of the expertise of the photographic astronomy work from the observatories, cutting-edge photographic processing and skilled, advanced cartography,” Helmering said.
The Lunar Reference Mosaic was used by experts in all phases of the lunar program, from studies of lunar geology to potential human landing site selection, Helmering said.