Remembering the first spacecraft to globally map the Moon

The first spacecraft to globally map the Moon left lunar orbit on May 3, 1994. Clementine, a joint Department of Defense-NASA mission, had systematically mapped the Moon’s surface over 71 days, collecting almost 2 million images. For the first time, scientists could put results of the Apollo lunar sample studies into a regional, and ultimately, a global context. Clementine collected special data products, including broadband thermal, high resolution and star tracker images for a variety of special studies. But in addition to this new knowledge of lunar processes and history, the mission led a wave of renewed interest in the processes and history of the Moon, which in turn, spurred a commitment to return there with both machines and people. We peeked into the Moon’s cold, dark areas near the poles and stood on the edge of a revolution in lunar science.

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