Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New lunar south polar maps from SMART-1

12.03.2008
Newly-released images of the lunar south-polar region obtained by ESA’s SMART-1 are proving to be wonderful tools to zero-in on suitable study sites for potential future lunar exploration missions.

SMART-1’s Advanced Moon Imaging Experiment (AMIE) has collected many images of the lunar south-polar region, with unprecedented spatial resolution. The images, obtained over a full year of changing seasons were used to study the different levels of solar illumination on the Moon’s surface.

The orientation of the lunar rotation axis is such that the Sun just about grazes the lunar poles, leaving some regions permanently shadowed.

Shackleton crater is located in the inner ring of the south pole Aitken basin, the largest known impact basin in the solar system. It has a diameter of 2600 km.

The south pole is located on the rim of Shackleton crater. SMART-1 took images around the crater, which is a strong contender for a future robotic and human exploration site and for a permanent human base.

The polar mosaics show geological features of interest within reach from the south pole. Monitoring of the illumination of selected polar sites has allowed scientists to confirm that a ridge located 10 km from the Shackleton rim is prominently illuminated, and could be a strong contender for a potential future lunar outpost.

The large number of impact craters in the area indicates that the terrain is ancient. An example is crater Amundsen, 105 km in diameter, lying 100 km from the pole. It shows central peaks and asymmetric terraces that deserve geological and geochemistry studies.

The Lunar Prospector mission had previously indicated evidence of enhanced hydrogen in the permanent shadowed floors of polar craters, possible sign of water ice – a relevant element when choosing a human outpost.

As to whether or not ice could still be trapped under the floor of polar craters, the former SMART-1 Project Scientist Bernard Foing said, “To understand whether or not water is possibly present at the south pole, we have to take into account the following factors: how volatile elements were delivered to the lunar surface by comets or water-rich asteroids, whether they were destroyed or persisted under a dust cover and for how long they were able to accumulate.”

“The polar regions are still lunar incognita, and it is critical to explore them and study their geological history,” he added.

Using SMART-1 images, SMART-1 AMIE investigators and US collaborators have also counted small impact craters on Shackleton ejecta blanket to estimate the age of the crater. They have found that the number of craters is twice that of Apollo 15 landing site, which would make the Shackleton crater between 3.9 to 4.3 thousand million years old.

“Previous investigators believed Shackleton to be much younger, but that could be due to grazing illumination at the poles, which enhances the topography, mimicking a younger crater.”

So, in view of SMART-1 observations, the south polar site looks even more interesting with the confirmation of prominently-lit sites, and the indication of old craters where ice could have had more time to accumulate in permanently-shadowed areas.

“The SMART-1 south polar maps indicate very exciting targets for science and future exploration, within travel reach from a rover or humans at the south pole”, says Jean-Luc Josset, Principal Investigator for the AMIE.

Bernard Foing | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/SMART-1/SEM1S6M5NDF_1.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Significantly more productivity in USP lasers
06.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT

nachricht Shape matters when light meets atom
05.12.2016 | Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore

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: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Predicting unpredictability: Information theory offers new way to read ice cores

07.12.2016 | Earth Sciences

Sea ice hit record lows in November

07.12.2016 | Earth Sciences

New material could lead to erasable and rewriteable optical chips

07.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>