July 10, 2018
Beginning To See the Unseen
Originally published April 14, 2009
image from NASA Mini-RF
Soon we will be able to see all the secret places on the Moon. NASA's Mini-SAR radar on the Indian orbiter Chandrayaan-1 is systematically imaging both poles, peering into craters whose floors have been shrouded in shadows for a billion years or more. This early mosaic assembled from strips of data collected through March 2009 will ultimately be filled in and seamlessly mosaicked, shining lights (actually radio frequency energy) into all the Moon's dark polar holes. As well as illuminating the floors the bounced back radar beams can be processed to detect water ice if it occurs in the upper meters of the floors of the permanently shadowed craters, revealing if they will be oases in the hyper-desert of the Moon. The area shown is largely within the 80°N cap of the Moon; I have added names for orientation. Because the Moon is imaged by detecting radar energy bounced off the surface, the Mini-RF team selected a high illumination angle to minimize shadowing, yielding a Full Moon appearance.
Rükl plate 4
PI Paul Spudis's progress report of Mini-RF.
A recent terrestrial view.
Yesterday's LPOD: Three Things To Notice
Tomorrow's LPOD: A River Ran Through It