The moon seen in ultra-HD 4K video

NASA has released stunning new video of the moon, showing close-ups of its surface in ultra high-definition.

The footage was shot by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft, which was launched in 2009 on a one-year mission to our only natural satellite.

Moon HD
A screenshot from the new video. Photo credit: NASA

"LRO was designed as a one-year mission," NASA said on its Tumblr site.  "Now in its ninth year, the spacecraft and the data emphasise the power of long-term data collection. Thanks to its many orbits around the moon, we have been able to expand on lunar science from the Apollo missions while paving the way for future lunar exploration.

"And as the mission continues to gather data, it will provide us with many more opportunities to take a tour of our moon."

Notable sites in the 4K footage include an impact crater the size of Texas called the Orientale Basin; the moon's icy south pole; the South Pole-Aitken Basin, which is as deep as two Mt Everests on top of each other; and the landing site of Apollo 17, including a rover vehicle.

Technology has come a long way - hundreds of years ago, astronomers pointing their telescopes at the moon were convinced it harboured oceans.

It was the LRO which eventually proved there was in fact water on the moon, but not the seas astronomers of antiquity thought they were seeing.