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Rover missions are hard - you need to put them down somewhere where they can safely drive around and measure (hopefully a variety of) interesting things.

While there has been quite a lapse in wheeled vehicles on the Moon, with Chang'e 3 and it's rover Yutu, a new era of lunar roving has begun, and with all the Lunar X Prize activity, things are going to get interesting.

Pinpointing a landing on the moon will be difficult for the smaller craft with limited resources, there's no GPS, and the Lunar X Prize contestants may not have the resources to monitor doppler from orbit or from Earth, so the potential landing area will have to be large.

So I've split this off from my earlier question Are there "rover-friendly region maps" for Mars? What about the Moon? which has an accepted answer for Mars.

Question: Are there "rover-friendly region maps" for the Moon? If not, at least what kind of data could be used to help make one?

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The only 'rover maps' I know of were those planned for the Apollo missions that carried the LRV. It's kind of nonsensical to have rover maps outside the context of a specific mission. It's kind of like asking, 'where on Earth can you drive a vehicle?'

That said, what you would want to look for in a good rover driving location would be the lack of boulders, and reasonable slopes. The surface texture of the moon is pretty much uniform, consisting of a layer of pulverized rock and dust. So the difference from one location to another will come down to things like exposed bedrock, major craters, boulder fields, and sloped terrain.

A good resource for looking for such locations is the Lunar Reconaissance Orbiter Quickmap. You can choose layers for viewing the surface, including ones that will show you elevation and slopes. At the highest resolution, the LRO NAC images have high enough resolution to spot terrain issues like large boulders.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Quickmap

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answer and link! I really like your answers. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Sep 8 at 2:55

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