Saturday, June 13, 2009

Accurate topographic map of the Moon

Topographic map of the Moon. The black dot and white dot
indicate the highest and lowest elevations on the Moon

Topographic maps of the polar regions show Shoemaker (Sh),
Faustini (Fa), Shackleton (S), and de Gerlache (dG) craters

Kaguya collected "6,770,000 data points on the Moon, on average five to six kilometers apart. With its laser altimeter (LALT), KAGUYA has made the first accurate global topographic map of the Moon. (The previous map was based on only 270,000 data points and lacked data on the polar regions.) We now know that the highest elevation on the Moon is about 10,750 meters at a crater rim on the farside, and the lowest is about 9,060 meters deep in the (South Pole-) Aitken Basin" from Malapert, on the Near Side, over the South Pole past the equator on the farside."

The "Far Side was volcanically active until 2.5 billion years ago. KAGUYA provided the first measurements of the elevations across both polar regions. Because the distance between data points in these regions is less than two kilometers, even small craters with a diameter of two to three kilometers can be clearly detected. KAGUYA has also revealed the topography on the farside (and) inside of the Shackleton Crater and the de Gerlache craters at the South Pole, as well as the roughly 15-km crater inside de Gerlache."

Read the JAXA feature story HERE.