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Thursday, July 22, 1999 Published at 13:19 GMT 14:19 UK


Sci/Tech

Close-up on the Moon

The coloured regions are where there may be ice

By BBC News Online Science Editor Dr David Whitehouse

The most detailed map of the Moon ever created has been completed after years of analysis.

It has been constructed from a series of high-resolution digital images from the Clementine lunar mission in 1994.


[ image: Some detail only a few hundred metres across can be seen]
Some detail only a few hundred metres across can be seen
The maps, assembled from almost 200,000 separate Clementine High Resolution camera images, will soon be available on CD-Rom.

The dataset, which fills 22 CD-ROMs, is a major improvement in the detail that can be seen on large sections of the lunar surface.

It is an exciting tool for those studying lunar geology or for those who just want to explore the Moon on their personal computer.

Lunar ice

The data includes nearly complete coverage of the polar regions where it believed that ice lies just under the surface.

"In the past it would have been impossible to mosaic these 200,000 images manually on anything approaching the timescale or cost we achieved with Clementine." said scientist Jeff Warren.

A total of 187,526 raw images from the Clementine high resolution camera were used in the mosaics. The maps cover about 8% of the lunar surface at a resolution of 20 to 30 metres per pixel.

The high-resolution coverage near the poles is extensive. Data from the more recent Lunar Prospector Mission has also been included.

On July 31st the Lunar Prospector spacecraft, which went into lunar orbit in January 1998 and has now completed its mission, will be commanded to crash into the south pole.

It will come down into the base of a crater that is in permanent shadow. It is hoped that it will dislodge enough water vapour into space to be visible as a plume in sophisticated telescopes.





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Internet Links


Lunar Data Analysis Program

Lunar Prospector Mission

Clementine


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