Giant photo brings excitement to world of photo editors

Today on the Lerner blog, Photo Editor Manager Cynthia Zemlicka tells you what to do if you want to impress a photo editor:

Do you know what makes photo editors sad? Digital images that are too small to print. Sure, that image file may look fine on the screen of your phone. Unfortunately, if the resolution is inadequate it will become a pixelated mess once it goes to the printer. Beautiful, high resolution images make us happy. An image the size of a football field should send us over the moon, right?

In the spirit of bigger is better, NASA and Arizona State University released a new image of the northern pole of the Moon called the LROC Northern Polar Mosaic. It isn’t just a large image, it is likely one of the world’s largest. Here are the stats:

  total number of pixels

680,808,991,627   number of pixels with image data (subtracting the black space at the corners)

931,070   number of pixels across

2 m²
   scale of each pixel

2.54 million km²   size of the region of the moon covered in the image (0.98 million miles²)

   number of photos that were stitched together to create this image

950 Gigabytes   size of the compressed mosaic 

If this image was printed at our standard 300 pixels per inch, it would need a sheet of paper that is 258 feet by 258 feet. It would nearly cover the length of an American football field (360 feet). A photo editor at the Lerner Publishing was overheard saying, “That is really cool!”

NASA created this image for practical applications, such as selecting lunar landing sights and scientific inquiry, rather than for the creation of giant children’s books. Still, anyone can use it to zoom-in and explore the surface of the Moon by following this link:


LROC northern polar mosaic with three levels of zoom-down into Thales crater.
Photo by NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University.
That is a really big sheet of theoretical paper!
Image courtesy of Arizona State University.

The area of the polar region of the moon shown in scale with a map of the US.
Image courtesy of NASA/LROC.

Works cited:
“LROC Northern Polar Mosaic”​ 

Nikki Cassis, ASU camera creates stunning mosaic of moon’s polar region, “ ASU News, March 18, 2014.