Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

First pictures of the moon

03.07.2009
Münster planetologists celebrate "LRO" mission

Yesterday (2 July 2009) the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) - the American mission which left Cape Canaveral on 18 June 2009 with the aim of preparing a manned return to the moon - transmitted the first pictures back to Earth.


First pictures from mare nubium
NASA

For Prof. Harald Hiesinger from the Institute of Planetology at Münster University this is a tremendous success. "I've never seen the moon like this before," he says, "it's absolutely fantastic!" Hiesinger's is one of six experiments on board the LRO.

The new pictures were taken close to the so-called 'terminator', i.e. the dividing line between the dark and the light sides of the moon. The extremely low-lying sun emphasises the morphology of the surface through the long shadows cast. After six years of preparation Hiesinger is now delighted at these first pictures.

"The new high-resolution pictures show in unprecedented detail the moon's surface in the highlands south of the Mare Nubium, one of the dark volcanic surfaces on the south-west front side of the moon," he says. On board there are several cameras, including one with a wide-angle lens and two equipped with tele-zooms. The high-resolution NAC camera maps the surface with around 50 centimetres per pixel, the WAC with around 100 metres per pixel.

"The hard work of the past few years is finally paying off," says Hiesinger. "We can now see the smallest craters and the finest geological structures in these pictures, which we shall be evaluating in detail in the next few years. There'll be a lot to do - for students, too." Hiesinger wants to let students work directly on the data. "For many of my students and staff this presents a unique opportunity to work directly on a mission that's underway. It means they're all highly motivated," says Hiesinger, who was the only German to be selected by NASA right at the beginning of the mission.

Among other things, the team in Münster will be using the pictures to map the moon's surface precisely and determine its age. In doing so, the Münster scientists will be using a method which was already developed in the Apollo era and has been continually refined ever since. As a surface collects more and more craters, the longer it is exposed to bombardment by meteorites, the age of the surface can be determined by counting the craters. The first pictures released by NASA today do indeed show a large number of craters of varying sizes, which Hiesinger and his team will now immediately start counting.

"But we shall of course be looking very closely at the polar areas too." he says, "These are especially interesting because it is suspected that there might be water in the deep craters in the polar regions." As no ray of sunlight is likely to penetrate into these craters it is very cold there, so that water is able to freeze and remain stable for a long time there. "Water on the moon is of course an enormously valuable resource for all future astronauts. This water can be drunk or used as rocket fuel," Hiesinger explains.

Another exciting question is the selection of safe landing spots for future manned missions. The Münster planetologists will be directly involved in looking for the best landing places. "Today's pictures are just the first appetizers," says Hiesinger. "Over the coming year we will be getting many terabytes of first-class, spectacular pictures." And as the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter used less fuel on its way to the moon than was planned, the mission will be able to orbit the moon for an estimated five years.

Brigitte Nussbaum | idw
Further information:
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LRO/main/index.html
http://www.uni-muenster.de/Planetology/en/homepage/homepage.html

Further reports about: LRO Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter NASA Orbiter Reconnaissance lunar base polar region

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions
27.04.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history
26.04.2017 | Southwest Research Institute

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>