Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

SMART-1 search for lunar peaks of eternal light

18.04.2005


ESA’s SMART-1 mission to the Moon has been monitoring the illumination of lunar poles since the beginning of 2005, about two months before arriving at its final science orbit.



Ever since, the AMIE on-board camera has been taking images which are even able to show polar areas in low illumination conditions. Images like these will help identify if peaks of eternal light exist at the poles.

SMART-1 took views of the North Polar Region from a distance of 5000 km during a pause in the spiralling descent to the science orbit. One can see highland terrains, very highly cratered due to their old age. The rims of the large craters project very long shadows even on surrounding features. SMART-1 is monitoring the polar shadows cast during the Moon rotation, and their seasonal variations, to look for places with long-lasting illumination.


The first image shows a 275 km area close to the North pole (upper left corner) observed by SMART-1 on 29 December 2004 from a distance of 5500 km. This shows a heavily cratered highland terrain, and is used to monitor illumination of polar areas, and long shadows cast by large crater rims.

The second image shows a North polar area 250 km wide observed by SMART-1 on 19 January 2005 (close to North winter solstice) from a distance of 5000 km. The illuminated part of crater rim in the very top of the image is very close to the North pole and is a candidate for a peak of eternal sunlight.

“This shows the ability of SMART-1 and its camera to image even for low light levels at the poles and prospect for sites for future exploration”, says AMIE camera Principal Investigator Jean-Luc Josset, (SPACE-X, Switzerland).

“If we can confirm peaks of eternal light”, adds Bernard Foing, SMART-1 Project Scientist, “these could be a key locations for possible future lunar outposts”.

The existence of peaks of eternal light at the poles, that is areas that remain eternally illuminated regardless of seasonal variations, was first predicted in the second half of the nineteenth century by the astronomer Camille Flammarion. Even if for most of the Moon the length of the day does not vary perceptibly during the course of seasons, this is not the case over the poles, where illumination can vary extensively during the course of the year.

The less favourable illumination conditions occur around the northern winter solstice, around 24 January. There are areas at the bottom of near-polar craters that do not see direct sunshine, where ice might potentially be trapped. Also there are areas at higher elevation on the rim of polar craters that see the Sun more than half of the time. Eventually, there may be areas that are always illuminated by sunlight.

Bernard Foing | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/SMART-1/SEMLWGW797E_0.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion
16.11.2018 | University of New Hampshire

nachricht NASA keeps watch over space explosions
16.11.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

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: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Purdue cancer identity technology makes it easier to find a tumor's 'address'

16.11.2018 | Health and Medicine

Good preparation is half the digestion

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Microscope measures muscle weakness

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>