Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Most Detailed Lunar Map Suggests Little Water Inside Moon

Date:
February 23, 2009
Source:
Ohio State University
Summary:
The most detailed map of the Moon ever created has revealed never-before-seen craters at the lunar poles. The map is also revealing secrets about the Moon's interior -- and hinting about Mars's interior as well.

An international team of researchers has created the most detailed map of the Moon yet, using the laser altimeter (LALT) instrument on board the Japanese Selenological and Engineering Explorer satellite. C.K. Shum, professor of earth sciences at Ohio State University, is a member of the LALT science team and a co-author of a paper appearing in the February 13 issue of the journal Science.
Credit: Image copyright Science/AAAS

The most detailed map of the Moon ever created has revealed never-before-seen craters at the lunar poles.

Related Articles


The map is also revealing secrets about the Moon's interior -- and hinting about Mars's interior as well.

C.K. Shum, professor of earth sciences at Ohio State University, is part of the international research team that published the map in the February 13 issue of the journal Science.

"The surface can tell us a lot about what's happening inside the Moon, but until now mapping has been very limited," Shum said. "For instance, with this new high-resolution map, we can confirm that there is very little water on the Moon today, even deep in the interior. And we can use that information to think about water on other planets, including Mars."

Using the laser altimeter (LALT) instrument on board the Japanese Selenological and Engineering Explorer (SELENE) satellite, the researchers mapped the Moon at an unprecedented 15-kilometer (9-mile) resolution.

The principal investigator of the LALT instrument is Hiroshi Araki of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, and he is the lead author of the study. Shum is a member of the LALT science team.

The map is the first to cover the Moon from pole to pole, with detailed measures of surface topography, on the dark side of the moon as well as the near side. The highest point -- on the rim of the Dririchlet-Jackson basin near the equator -- rises 11 kilometers (more than 6.5 miles) high, while the lowest point -- the bottom of Antoniadi crater near the south pole -- rests 9 kilometers (more than 5.5 miles) deep.

In part, the new map will serve as a guide for future lunar rovers, which will scour the surface for geological resources.

But Araki and his colleagues did something more with the map: they measured the roughness of the lunar surface, and used that information to calculate the stiffness of the crust.

If water flowed beneath the lunar surface, the crust would be somewhat flexible, but it wasn't. The surface was too rigid to allow for any liquid water, even deep within the Moon.

Earth's surface is more flexible, by contrast, with the surface rising or falling as water flows above or below ground. Even our planet's plate tectonics is due in part to water lubricating the crust.

And Mars? On a scale of surface roughness, it falls somewhere between the Earth and the Moon, which indicates that there may have once been liquid water, but that the surface is now very dry.

No surprise there.

But Mars' roughness coupled with the complete absence of plate tectonics suggests that if there is water in the red planet's interior, it is not located near the surface, where it could lubricate the crust, Shum explained.

The LALT map is the most detailed lunar map ever created. The last three Apollo missions mapped part of the surface in the early 1970s, and the 1994 Clementine mission in offered a resolution between 20-60 kilometers in certain locations, but not the entire surface.

The SELENE mission offers 15-kilometer resolution consistently over the entire surface, because it features two smaller sub-satellites which closely track the main satellite.

"This design significantly improved our ability to model gravity fields on the moon, and let us compute the main satellite's orbit more accurately than was possible before, especially over the far side the Moon. That led to more accurate measurement of the lunar topography using LALT," Shum said.

The map revealed several small craters at the north and south poles that hadn't been seen before. For example, a 15-kilometer-wide crater can be seen inside the much larger de Gerlache crater at the south pole.

Araki and Shum's coauthors on the paper hail from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, the Geographical Survey Institute of Japan, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and the German Aerospace Center. At Ohio State, research scientist Yuchan Yi and doctoral student Hoksum Fok worked on lunar data processing.

The American component of this research was partially funded by Ohio State and JAXA.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ohio State University. The original article was written by Pam Frost Gorder. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. H. Araki, S. Tazawa, H. Noda, Y. Ishihara, S. Goossens, S. Sasaki, N. Kawano, I. Kamiya, H. Otake, J. Oberst, and C. Shum. Lunar Global Shape and Polar Topography Derived from Kaguya-LALT Laser Altimetry. Science, 2009; 323 (5916): 897 DOI: 10.1126/science.1164146

Cite This Page:

Ohio State University. "Most Detailed Lunar Map Suggests Little Water Inside Moon." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090212141201.htm>.
Ohio State University. (2009, February 23). Most Detailed Lunar Map Suggests Little Water Inside Moon. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090212141201.htm
Ohio State University. "Most Detailed Lunar Map Suggests Little Water Inside Moon." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090212141201.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Antares Liftoff Explosion

Raw: Antares Liftoff Explosion

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) Observers near Wallops Island recorded what they thought would be a routine rocket launch Tuesday night. What they recorded was a major rocket explosion shortly after lift off. (Oct 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Russian Cargo Ship Docks at Space Station

Raw: Russian Cargo Ship Docks at Space Station

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) Just hours after an American cargo run to the International Space Station ended in flames, a Russian supply ship has arrived at the station with a load of fresh supplies. (Oct. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Journalist Captures Moment of Antares Rocket Explosion

Journalist Captures Moment of Antares Rocket Explosion

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 29, 2014) A space education journalist is among those who witness and record the explosion of an unmanned Antares rocket seconds after its launch. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rocket Explosion Under Investigation

Rocket Explosion Under Investigation

AP (Oct. 28, 2014) NASA and Orbital Sciences officials say they are investigating the explosion of an unmanned commercial supply rocket bound for the International Space Station. It blew up moments after liftoff Tuesday evening over the launch site in Virginia. (Oct. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins