Thursday, March 5, 2009

Kaguya Data: No 'Peak of Eternal Sunlight'

Hat Tip to Lunar Mark and (Nick Azer)
Luna C/I: Moon Colonization and Integration

In what seems to be a little-noticed but highly important development for lunar base planning, Japan’s SELENE (also known as Kaguya) lunar orbiter last month determined that the concept of a ‘Peak of Eternal Light‘ at either of the lunar poles does not exist.

The possibility of a Peak of Eternal Light at one of several locations, including the rim of Shackleton Crater or on Malapert (both at the South Pole), made those locations prime candidates for early lunar bases. Having eternal sunlight is, clearly, an advantage for any outpost relying largely on solar power.

Some of these points at the lunar poles do have as much as 89% illumination, though, so they remain very strong locations as far as near-constant solar power.

The pessimists of the universe, though, will rejoice in knowing that permanent shadow was confirmed to exist–leading to potential water ice.

The JAXA team’s findings were published in the U.S. journal of Geophysics last month.


Anders Feder said...

Interesting, but I think that was already assumed to be the case. One NASA paper I saw read as follows:

"Due to seasonal variations, polar locations can have periods of constant sun light during the summer that can last many months followed by constant night time conditions for the remainder of the year; except, some high elevations, such as crater rims, can experience constant daylight during 70 percent of the winter."

Joel Raupe said...

You know, I think you're right. The story, if there is one, is "confirmation."

Excellent point.