NASA just gave computer graphics artists a tantalizing gift.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has been circling the moon snapping pictures and capturing topographical data for 10 years. It’s science visualizer Ernie Wright’s job to interpret and combine the LRO’s raw data and images to construct an accurate 3D rendering of the moon.
NASA will use this data to help inform future moon landings and other projects. But that won’t be its only use.
As spotted by TechCrunch, NASA announced in September that it had created a CGI Moon Kit: data and images rendering an accurate 3D visualization of the surface of the moon. Artists and designers will be able to use this media for, well, whatever they want, whether that’s video games or other forms of art.
“[The Moon kit] will bring the LRO data within reach of lots of other artists who want to do the kinds of things that I do,” Wright said in a press release.
The moon kit is free to download. It contains all sorts of data and images, such as a “displacement map,” which visualizes topography through color. With all the available data, artists will be able to re-create an accurate surface of the moon, complete with its real-life craters, plateaus, and peaks.
Thanks to NASA’s beneficence, the moon is closer in reach than ever before.