Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Spudis: Chandrayaan Mini-SAR near completion of first mapping cycle

Rozhdestvensky K, near the north pole of the Moon

Air and Space - Smithsonian - Paul Spudis

"The initial images look very clean, with a few collection artifacts and some missed orbits. Some of the mosaics have mismatched, offset features, not because of any fault in the instrument but because we still do not have a precise global cartographic control net for the Moon, a missing data set that will be filled by the mapping currently taking place by Chandrayaan, the Japanese Kaguya, the Chinese Chang’E and soon, the American Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter missions. Much of the shadowed terrain covered by Mini-SAR shows a surface much like the surface of the Moon not in shadow, with small craters of a variety of shapes and sizes present. Some images show spectacular surface features, including wall slumping, central peaks and flat, smooth floors."

"A particularly interesting and unusual feature was imaged by Mini-SAR almost by accident. Because of a timing error, we started a few mapping passes of the south pole early, before the scheduled start at 80° south latitude. Good thing we did! We covered the fresh, spectacular Schrödinger impact basin, on the lunar far side. Schrödinger shows an unusual, keyhole-shaped crater along a long fissure on the basin floor. This crater is surrounded by optically dark material, which has been interpreted as volcanic ash deposits. The new Mini-SAR image shows that this material is also dark in radar reflectivity, exactly what would be expected from a fine-grained, block-free deposit. Thus, our radar images confirm the geological interpretation first derived in 1994 from Clementine images."

Read Paul Spudis' report for Smithsonian HERE.

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