[meteorite-list] NASA Scientists Bring Light to Moon's Permanently Dark Craters

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Sun, 21 Jun 2009 21:50:30 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <200906220450.n5M4oUcY021597_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


NASA Scientists Bring Light to Moon's Permanently Dark Craters
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
June 18, 2009

PASADENA, Calif. - A new lunar topography map with the highest
resolution of the moon's rugged south polar region provides new
information on some of our natural satellite's darkest inhabitants -
permanently shadowed craters.

The map was created by scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Pasadena, Calif., who collected the data using the Deep Space Network's
Goldstone Solar System Radar located in California's Mojave Desert. The
map will help Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS)
mission planners as they target for an encounter with a permanently dark
crater near the lunar South Pole.

"Since the beginning of time, these lunar craters have been invisible to
humanity," said Barbara Wilson, a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and manager of the study. "Now we can
see detailed topography inside these craters down to 40 meters [132
feet] per pixel, with height accuracy of better than 5 meters [16 feet]."

The terrain map of the moon's south pole is online at:
http://www.nasa.gov/topics/moonmars/features/moon-20090618.html .

Scientists targeted the moon's south polar region using Goldstone's
70-meter (230-foot) radar dish. The antenna, three-quarters the size of
a football field, sent a 500-kilowatt-strong, 90-minute-long radar
stream 373,046 kilometers (231,800 miles) to the moon. Signals were
reflected back from the rough-hewn lunar terrain and detected by two of
Goldstone's 34-meter (112-foot) antennas on Earth. The roundtrip time,
from the antenna to the moon and back, was about two-and-a-half seconds.

The scientists compared their data with laser altimeter data recently
released by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kaguya mission
to position and orient the radar images and maps. The new map provides
contiguous topographic detail over a region approximately 500 kilometers
(311 miles) by 400 kilometers (249 miles).

Funding for the program was provided by NASA's Exploration Systems
Mission Directorate. JPL manages the Goldstone Solar System Radar and
the Deep Space Network for NASA. JPL is managed for NASA by the
California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

More information about the Goldstone Solar System Radar and Deep Space
Network is at http://deepspace.jpl.nasa.gov/dsn . More information about
NASA's exploration program to return humans to the moon is at
http://www.nasa.gov/exploration .

Media Contacts:
DC Agle 818-393-9011
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
agle at jpl.nasa.gov

Grey Hautaluoma 202-358-0668
Headquarters, Washington
grey.hautaluoma-1 at nasa.gov

Received on Mon 22 Jun 2009 12:50:30 AM PDT

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