NASA is considering a trip to the moon, and this time, the destination would be the scenic South Polar Region. Pursuant to this, they have compiled a set of more detailed than ever high-resolution radar maps of the Man in the Moon’s chin.
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Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory collected the data using the Goldstone Solar System Radar located in California’s Mojave Desert. Three times in 2006, JPL scientists targeted the moon’s south polar region using Goldstone’s 70-meter radar dish. The antenna, three-quarters the size of a football field, sent a 500-kilowatt strong, 90-minute long radar stream 231,800 miles to the Moon. The radar illuminated the rough-hewn lunar surface over an area measuring about 400 by 250 miles. Signals were reflected back to two of Goldstone’s 34-meter antennas on Earth. Scientists have been analyzing the echoes ever since, and the data were released by NASA for the first time this week.

If you visit the site (the web site, not the landing site) you can watch a cool movie of the sunrise/sunset across the span of one lunar day. (It is a simulation, but very realistic looking, insofar as the moon looks real to us Earthlings.)

Comments

  1. #1 6EQUJ5
    March 5, 2008

    Station 14 has also done GSSR studies of Mars, Venus, Titan, and a number of asteroids. Sometimes Arecibo and/or the VLBA in Socorro, New Mexico, serve as the receiver(s).

    There is a hi-def picture of the 70-m here:

    http://deepspace.jpl.nasa.gov/dsn/images/picture_70_bw_lg.jpg

    Expand it and look at the bottom for the truck to get an idea of the scale.

    (Photographers prefer cloudy weather because it makes more dramatic pictures. The sky over Goldstone is almost always clear. At night you can see Carl Sagan’s billions of stars.)

  2. #2 Umlud
    March 5, 2008

    … did you mean ‘triptych’?