Friday, February 29, 2008

Lunar Hiking

NASA has been at it again. They are looking at possible landing sites for a future moon visit and, after creating some very high-resolution terrain maps of the moon's south pole, are considering landing there. These new high-res maps were created at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena from collected data from the facility's Goldstone Solar System Radar in the Mojave Desert. The maps have a resolution of 20 meters per pixel and are the best terrain maps we've ever had of the moon. "The mapping data collected indicate that the region of the moon's south pole near Shackleton Crater is much more rugged than previously understood. The Shackleton rim area is considered a candidate landing site for a future human mission to the moon." We've all seen the 1969 footage of our first little moonwalk--The terrain was mostly flat and grey with gently sloping hills. Not a bad place to land a spacecraft, but not exactly breath-taking either. The moon's south pole will be nothing like that. Doug Cooke, deputy associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters describes it this way: "The south pole of the moon certainly would be a beautiful place to explore. We now know the south pole has peaks as high as Mt. McKinley and crater floors four times deeper than the Grand Canyon." Just imagine the amazing backpacking we could do there! : )

National Aeronautics And Space Administration. "NASA Views Landing Site Through Eyes Of Future Moon Crew." ScienceDaily 28 February 2008. 29 February 2008 .

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