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 NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth
17.11.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Pluto's hydrocarbon haze keeps dwarf planet colder than expected
16.11.2017 | University of California - Santa Cruz

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: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>