SMART-1: Travel maps of the lunar north pole

December 05, 2007

A new map obtained with SMART-1 data shows the geography and illumination of the lunar north pole. Such maps will be of great use for future lunar explorers.

The lunar poles are very interesting for future science and exploration of the Moon mainly because of their exposure to sunlight. They display areas of quasi-eternal light, have a stable thermal environment and are close to dark areas that could host water ice - potential future lunar base sites.

The SMART-1 north pole map, covering an area of about 800 by 600 km, shows geographical locations of some craters of interest. Peary is a large impact crater closest to the north pole. At this latitude the interior of the crater receives little sunlight, but SMART-1 was able to observe it during phases when the crater floor was sufficiently illuminated for imaging.

A previous lunar mission, the U.S. Clementine, observed the Peary crater during the north summer, and identified some areas particularly illuminated by the sun in that season. With its Advanced Moon Imaging Experiment (AMIE) micro-camera, SMART-1 has complemented this data set by identifying the areas that are also well-illuminated during northern winter.

"Solar illumination makes these areas ideal for robotic outposts or lunar bases making use of solar power," added Foing.

Hermite is another lunar impact crater located along the northern lunar limb, close to the north pole of the Moon. Looking from Earth, it is viewed nearly from the side, illuminated by oblique sunlight.

Crater Plaskett is located on the northern far-side of the Moon, about 200 km from the north pole. It receives sunlight at a low angle. Because of the isolation of this crater and its location near the lunar limb, it has been suggested as a possible additional site of a future lunar base that could be used to simulate isolated conditions during a manned mission to Mars.

"From the crater rim, rovers could be sent out to explore nearby craters which are permanently in shadow and may contain water ice. If the layers of ice come from the volatiles deposited by comets and water-rich asteroids, we could better understand how, and how much, water and organic material was delivered to Earth over its history," said Foing.

European Space Agency

Related Solar Power Articles from Brightsurf:

Turning streetwear into solar power plants
Researchers at Empa and ETH Zurich succeeded in developing a material that works like a luminescent solar concentrator and can even be applied to textiles.

COVID-19 shutdown led to increased solar power output
As the air cleared after lockdowns, solar installations in Delhi produced 8 percent more power, study shows.

The collective power of the solar system's dark, icy bodies
Two new studies by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder may help to solve one of the biggest mysteries about the dark, icy bodies of the outer solar system: why so many of them don't circle the sun the way they should.

Newer solar power equipment ages better than older units
Utility-scale photovoltaics are the largest sector of the overall solar market within the US and the fastest-growing form of renewable power generation, and this fleet of utility-scale photovoltaic projects is relatively young and hasn't been operating long enough to establish a lengthy history of operational field service.

Solar power plants get help from satellites to predict cloud cover
Cloud cover is often characterized in simple terms, such as cloudy, partly cloudy or clear.

Solar power from 'the dark side' unlocked by a new formula
Most of today's solar panels capture sunlight and convert it to electricity only from the side facing the sky.

Researchers develop a better way to harness the power of solar panels
Researchers at the University of Waterloo have developed a way to better harness the volume of energy collected by solar panels.

Solar power with a free side of drinking water
An integrated system seamlessly harnesses sunlight to cogenerate electricity and fresh water.

Breakthrough in new material to harness solar power could transform energy
The UToledo physicist pushing the performance of solar cells to levels never before reached made a significant breakthrough in the chemical formula and process to make the new material.

Fighting smog supports solar power
Model calculations by ETH researchers show that if China fought smog more aggressively, it could massively increase solar power production.

Read More: Solar Power News and Solar Power Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to