These images are from the new Unified Geologic Map of the Moon, the most detailed lunar map ever created. Just released by the U.S. Geological Survey, it melds data from last century's Apollo mission era with fresh information captured by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency's SELENE lunar orbiter. From Science News:
Each splash of color identifies a discrete rock or sediment formation, including craters, basins and ancient lava fields. For instance, "the darker, more earth tones are these highland-type terrains, and the reds and the purples tend to be more of these volcanic and lava flow materials," says geologist James Skinner, who oversees the production of standardized maps for solar system bodies at the U.S. Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Ariz. […]
Detailed observations from the lunar orbiters were especially helpful for clearing up uncertainties in how different craters overlapped with each other, which revealed the craters' relative ages. Hammering out crater formation timelines gives insight into the moon's history.
The new map could also inform future human missions to the moon by revealing regions that may be rich in useful resources or areas that need more detailed mapping to land a spacecraft there safely.