Lunar South Pole Atlas

Lunar South Pole Atlas

Foreword
Julie D. Stopar and David A. Kring

NASA has been directed to land astronauts at the lunar south pole by 2024, an objective with a five-year timeline. Speed, safety, and efficiency are key priorities driving this implementation of Space Policy Directive-1, which is to have humans on the Moon for “long-term exploration and utilization.” To assist NASA and the lunar community, we have compiled an online atlas that consists of a series of maps, images, and illustrations of the south polar region. We include some new data products developed with the south pole directive in mind; other content is drawn from LPI’s existing collection of Lunar Images and Maps and its Library of Classroom Illustrations. Links to additional data products derived from recent and ongoing planetary missions are also included. This atlas is curated to provide context and to be a reference for those interested in the exploration of the Moon’s south pole.

Lunar Polar Maps

Topographic Map of the Moon’s South Pole (80°S to Pole)

This map is based on data released by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA). The map is centered on the south pole and shows the LOLA 20-m elevation product between 80В°S and the pole (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Smith et al., 2010; Smith et al., 2017). The elevation data are overlain on a derived hillshade with solar azimuth 45В°W and solar elevation 45В°. Polar stereographic projection is used with scale true at the pole. Feature names are included on the map.

Citation: Stopar J. and Meyer H. (2019) Topographic Map of the Moon’s South Pole (80В°S to Pole), Lunar and Planetary Institute Regional Planetary Image Facility, LPI Contribution 2169, https://repository.hou.usra.edu/handle/20.500.11753/1254

Topography and Permanently Shaded Regions (PSRs) of the Moon’s South Pole (80°S to Pole)

This map is based on data released by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA). The map is centered on the south pole and shows the LOLA 20-m elevation product between 80В°S and the pole (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Smith et al., 2010; Smith et al., 2017). The elevation data are overlain on a derived hillshade with solar azimuth 45В°W and solar elevation 45В°. Permanently shaded regions (PSRs) larger than 10 km 2 digitized by Arizona State University and determined by Mazarico et al. (2011) are shown as red outlines with black fill. Polar stereographic projection is used with scale true at the pole. Feature names are included on the map.

Citation: Stopar J. and Meyer H. (2019) Topography and Permanently Shaded Regions (PSRs) of the Moon’s South Pole (80В°S to Pole), Lunar and Planetary Institute Regional Planetary Image Facility, LPI Contribution 2170, https://repository.hou.usra.edu/handle/20.500.11753/1255

Near-Surface Temperatures Modeled for the Moon’s South Pole (85°S to Pole)

This map is based on model data released by Paige et al. (2010) and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) Diviner instrument. Modeled temperatures are represented with color and overlain on a hillshaded relief map produced from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) 20-m-elevation data product (NASA Goddard Flight Center; Smith et al., 2010; Smith et al., 2017).

Citation: Stopar J. (2019) Near-Surface Temperatures Modeled at the Moon’s South Pole (85В°S to Pole), Lunar and Planetary Institute Regional Planetary Image Facility, LPI Contribution 2216, https://repository.hou.usra.edu/handle/20.500.11753/1336

Topographic Map of the Moon’s South Pole (85°S to Pole)

This map is based on data released by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA). The map is centered on the south pole and shows the LOLA 20-m elevation product between 85В°S and the pole (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Smith et al., 2010; Smith et al., 2017). The elevation data are overlain on a derived hillshade with solar azimuth 45В°W and solar elevation 45В°. Polar stereographic projection is used with scale true at the pole. Feature names are included on the map.

Citation: Stopar J. and Meyer H. (2019) Topographic Map of the Moon’s South Pole (85В°S to Pole), Lunar and Planetary Institute Regional Planetary Image Facility, LPI Contribution 2171, https://repository.hou.usra.edu/handle/20.500.11753/1256

Topography and Permanently Shaded Regions (PSRs) of the Moon’s South Pole (85°S to Pole)

This map is based on data released by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA). The map is centered on the south pole and shows the LOLA 20-m elevation product between 85В°S and the pole (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Smith et al., 2010; Smith et al., 2017). The elevation data are overlain on a derived hillshade with solar azimuth 45В°W and solar elevation 45В°. Permanently shaded regions (PSRs) larger than 10 km 2 digitized by Arizona State University and determined by Mazarico et al. (2011) are shown as gray outlines. Polar stereographic projection is used with scale true at the pole. Feature names are included on the map.

Citation: Stopar J. and Meyer H. (2019) Topography and Permanently Shaded Regions (PSRs) of the Moon’s South Pole (85В°S to Pole), Lunar and Planetary Institute Regional Planetary Image Facility, LPI Contribution 2172, https://repository.hou.usra.edu/handle/20.500.11753/1257

Topography and Permanently Shaded Regions (PSRs) 85В°S to Pole of the Moon

This map is based on data released by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA). The map is centered on the south pole and shows the LOLA 20-m elevation product between 85В°S and the pole (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Smith et al., 2010; Smith et al., 2017). The elevation data are overlain on a derived hillshade with solar azimuth 45В°W and solar elevation 45В°. Permanently shaded Regions (PSRs) larger than 10 km 2 digitized by Arizona State University and determined by Mazarico et al. (2011) are shown as gray outlines. 1000-m elevation contours (relative to global radius) are shown as green lines with elevations marked. Polar stereographic projection is used with scale true at the pole. Selected feature names are included on the map.

Citation: Stopar J. and Meyer H. (2019) Topography and Permanently Shaded Regions (PSRs) 85В°S to Pole of the Moon, Lunar and Planetary Institute Regional Planetary Image Facility, LPI Contribution 2173, https://repository.hou.usra.edu/handle/20.500.11753/1258

Slope Map of the Moon’s South Pole (85°S to Pole)

This map is based on data collected by the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) onboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The map shows slopes derived from the LOLA 10-m elevation product (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Smith et al., 2010; Smith et al., 2017). The slope is represented with four traditional colors 0В° to 5В° (bright green), 5В° to 10В° (dark green), 10В° to 15В° (yellow), and >15В° (red). A second version of the map, with colors that may be attractive to those with color blindness, is also available: 0В° to 5В° (blue), 5В° to 10В° (darker blue), 10В° to 15В° (yellow), and >15В° (red). The map covers the region from latitude 85В°S to the pole on the rim of Shackleton crater. Slope data are overlain on a derived hillshade with solar azimuth 45В°W and solar elevation 45В°.

A product of the Exploration Science Summer Intern Program: Harish, Venkata Satya Kumar Animireddi, Natasha Barrett, Sarah Boazman, Aleksandra Gawronska, Cosette Gilmour, Samuel Halim, Kathryn McCanaan, Jahnavi Shah, and David Kring.

Download option: Map 1, PDF (58 MB) LPI Contribution 2229, https://repository.hou.usra.edu/handle/20.500.11753/1366
Download option: Map 2, PDF (84 MB) with alternative color scheme. LPI Contribution 2230, https://repository.hou.usra.edu/handle/20.500.11753/1367

Slope Map of the Moon’s South Pole (85В°S to Pole) – Map 3

This map is based on data collected by the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) onboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The map shows slopes derived from the LOLA 10-m elevation product (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Smith et al., 2010; Smith et al., 2017). The slope is represented with four traditional colors 0В° to 5В° (light green), 5В° to 10В° (bright green), 10В° to 15В° (dark green), 15В° to 20В° (yellow), and >20В° (red). The map covers the region from latitude 85В°S to the pole on the rim of Shackleton crater. Slope data are overlain on a derived hillshade with solar azimuth 45В°W and solar elevation 45В°.

A product of the Exploration Science Summer Intern Program: Harish, Venkata Satya Kumar Animireddi, Natasha Barrett, Sarah Boazman, Aleksandra Gawronska, Cosette Gilmour, Samuel Halim, Kathryn McCanaan, Jahnavi Shah, and David Kring.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Narrow Angle Camera Mosaic of the Moon’s South Pole

This map is based on image mosaics released by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC). The map is centered on the south pole and shows the LROC Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) 1-m-scale south pole mosaic. Permanently shaded regions (PSRs) larger than 10 km 2 digitized by Arizona State University and determined by Mazarico et al. (2011) are shown as red outlines. Inset map shows PSR areas in square kilometers. Polar stereographic projection is used with scale true at the pole.

Citation: Stopar J. (2019) Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Narrow Angle Camera Mosaic of the Moon’s South Pole, Lunar and Planetary Institute Regional Planetary Image Facility, LPI Contribution 2190, https://repository.hou.usra.edu/handle/20.500.11753/1300

Topographic Map of the Moon’s South Pole

This map is based on data released by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA). The map is centered on the south pole and shows the LOLA 5-m elevation product (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Smith et al., 2010; Smith et al., 2017). The elevation data are overlain on a derived hillshade with solar azimuth 45В°W and solar elevation 45В°. Polar stereographic projection is used with scale true at the pole. Feature names are included on the map. [Note: This map was not controlled using the techniques of Glaser et al. (2014, 2018), thus there are artifacts in LOLA track offsets.]

Citation: Stopar J. and Meyer H. (2019) Topographic Map of the Moon’s South Pole, Lunar and Planetary Institute Regional Planetary Image Facility, LPI Contribution 2174, https://repository.hou.usra.edu/handle/20.500.11753/1259

Topography and Permanently Shaded Regions (PSRs) of the Moon’s South Pole

This map is based on data released by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA). The map is centered on the south pole and shows the LOLA 5-m elevation product between 85В°S and the pole (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Smith et al., 2010; Smith et al., 2017). The elevation data are overlain on a derived hillshade with solar azimuth 45В°W and solar elevation 45В°. Permanently shaded regions (PSRs) larger than 10 km 2 digitized by Arizona State University and determined by Mazarico et al. (2011) are shown as gray outlines. Polar stereographic projection is used with scale true at the pole. Feature names are included on the map. [Note: This map was not controlled using the techniques of Glaser et al. (2014, 2018), thus there are artifacts in LOLA track offsets.]

Citation: Stopar J. and Meyer H. (2019) Topography and Permanently Shaded Regions (PSRs) of the Moon’s South Pole, Lunar and Planetary Institute Regional Planetary Image Facility, LPI Contribution 2175, https://repository.hou.usra.edu/handle/20.500.11753/1260

Topography and Permanently Shaded Regions (PSRs) 87В°S to Pole of the Moon

This map is based on data released by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA). The map is centered on the south pole and shows the LOLA 5-m elevation product between 85В°S and the pole (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Smith et al., 2010; Smith et al., 2017). The elevation data are overlain on a derived hillshade with solar azimuth 45В°W and solar elevation 45В°. Permanently shaded regions (PSRs) larger than 10 km 2 digitized by Arizona State University and determined by Mazarico et al. (2011) are shown as gray outlines. 1000-m elevation contours (relative to global radius) are shown as green lines with elevations marked. Polar stereographic projection is used with scale true at the pole. Selected feature names are included on the map. [Note: This map was not controlled using the techniques of Glaser et al. (2014, 2018), thus there are artifacts in LOLA track offsets.]

Citation: Stopar J. and Meyer H. (2019) Topography and Permanently Shaded Regions (PSRs) 87В°S to Pole of the Moon, Lunar and Planetary Institute Regional Planetary Image Facility, LPI Contribution 2176, https://repository.hou.usra.edu/handle/20.500.11753/1261

Topographic Map of the Moon’s South Polar Ridge

This map is based on data released by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA). The map is centered between de Gerlache and Shackleton craters and shows the LOLA 5-m elevation product (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Smith et al., 2010; Smith et al., 2017). The elevation data are overlain on a derived hillshade with solar azimuth 45В°W and solar elevation 45В°. Polar stereographic projection is used with scale true at the pole. Feature names are included on the map. [Note: This map was not controlled using the techniques of Glaser et al. (2014, 2018), thus there are artifacts in LOLA track offsets.]

Citation: Stopar J. and Meyer H. (2019) Topographic Map of the Moon’s South Polar Ridge, Lunar and Planetary Institute Regional Planetary Image Facility, LPI Contribution 2177, https://repository.hou.usra.edu/handle/20.500.11753/1262

Topography and Permanently Shaded Regions (PSRs) of the Moon’s South Polar Ridge

This map is based on data released by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA). The map is centered between de Gerlache and Shackleton craters and shows the LOLA 5-m elevation product (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Smith et al., 2010; Smith et al., 2017). The elevation data are overlain on a derived hillshade with solar azimuth 45В°W and solar elevation 45В°. Polar stereographic projection is used with scale true at the pole. Feature names are included on the map. [Note: This map was not controlled using the techniques of Glaser et al. (2014, 2018), thus there are artifacts in LOLA track offsets.]

Citation: Stopar J. and Meyer H. (2019) Topography and Permanently Shaded Regions (PSRs) of the Moon’s South Polar Ridge, Lunar and Planetary Institute Regional Planetary Image Facility, LPI Contribution 2178, https://repository.hou.usra.edu/handle/20.500.11753/1263

Annual Illumination and Topographic Slope of the Moon’s South Polar Ridge

This map is based on data released by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC). The map is centered between de Gerlache and Shackleton craters and shows slopes derived from the LOLA 5-m elevation product (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Smith et al., 2010; Smith et al., 2017) using Horn’s formula binned into three slope ranges and assigned color values. The slope data are overlain on LROC Wide Angle Camera (WAC) 100-m-scale percentage of illumination map (Speyerer and Robinson, 2013). The extent of the WAC illumination map is 88В°S to 90В°S; area outside of this range is shaded in black indicating no illumination data. Other black shaded areas indicate steep slopes and/or low illumination conditions. Polar stereographic projection is used with scale true at the pole. Feature names are included on the map.

Citation: Stopar J. and Meyer H. (2019) Annual Illumination and Topographic Slope of the Moon’s South Polar Ridge, Lunar and Planetary Institute Regional Planetary Image Facility, LPI Contribution 2179, https://repository.hou.usra.edu/handle/20.500.11753/1264

Topographic Slopes (5-meter) of the Moon’s South Polar Ridge

This map is based on data released by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA). The map is centered between de Gerlache and Shackleton craters and shows slopes derived from the LOLA 5-m elevation product (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Smith et al., 2010; Smith et al., 2017) using Horn’s formula binned into seven slope ranges and assigned color values. The slope data are overlain on a derived hillshade with solar azimuth 45В°W and solar elevation 45В°. Polar stereographic projection is used with scale true at the pole. Feature names are included on the map.

Citation: Stopar J. and Meyer H. (2019) Topographic Slopes (5-meter) of the Moon’s South Polar Ridge, Lunar and Planetary Institute Regional Planetary Image Facility, LPI Contribution 2180, https://repository.hou.usra.edu/handle/20.500.11753/1265

Topographic Slopes of the Moon’s South Polar Ridge

This map is based on data released by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA). The map is centered between de Gerlache and Shackleton craters and shows slopes derived from the LOLA 20-m elevation product (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Smith et al., 2010; Smith et al., 2017) using Horn’s formula binned into seven slope ranges and assigned color values. The slope data are overlain on a derived hillshade with solar azimuth 45В°W and solar elevation 45В°. Polar stereographic projection is used with scale true at the pole. Feature names are included on the map.

Citation: Stopar J. and Meyer H. (2019) Topographic Slopes of the Moon’s South Polar Ridge, Lunar and Planetary Institute Regional Planetary Image Facility, LPI Contribution 2181, https://repository.hou.usra.edu/handle/20.500.11753/1266

Topography and Relatively Flat Areas of the Moon’s South Polar Ridge

This map is based on data released by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA). The map is centered between de Gerlache and Shackleton craters and shows the LOLA 5-m elevation product in color (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Smith et al., 2010; Smith et al., 2017) and slopes derived using Horn’s formula, binned into two slope ranges and assigned gray and black values. Polar stereographic projection is used with scale true at the pole. Feature names are included on the map.

Citation: Stopar J. and Meyer H. (2019) Topography and Relatively Flat Areas of the Moon’s South Polar Ridge, Lunar and Planetary Institute Regional Planetary Image Facility, LPI Contribution 2182, https://repository.hou.usra.edu/handle/20.500.11753/1267

Slope Map between Shackleton and de Gerlache Craters, Lunar South Pole

This map is based on data collected by the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) onboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The map shows slopes derived from the LOLA 5-m elevation product (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Smith et al., 2010; Smith et al., 2017). The slope is represented with four traditional colors 0В° to 5В° (bright green), 5В° to 10В° (dark green), 10В° to 15В° (yellow), and >15В° (red).В A second version of the map, with colors that may be attractive to those with color blindness, is also available: 0В° to 5В° (blue), 5В° to 10В° (darker blue), 10В° to 15В° (yellow), and >15В° (red).В The map covers the region between Shackleton and de Gerlache craters.В Slope data are overlain on a derived hillshade with solar azimuth 45В°W and solar elevation 45В°.

A product of the Exploration Science Summer Intern Program: Harish, Venkata Satya Kumar Animireddi, Natasha Barrett, Sarah Boazman, Aleksandra Gawronska, Cosette Gilmour, Samuel Halim, Kathryn McCanaan, Jahnavi Shah, and David Kring.В

Download option: Map 1,В PDF (65 MB). LPI Contribution 2227, https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11753/1360
Download option: Map 2,В PDF (83 MB) with alternative color scheme. Contribution 2228, https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11753/1361

Slope Map Between Shackleton and de Gerlache Craters, Lunar South Pole – Map 3

This map is based on data collected by the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) onboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The map shows slopes derived from the LOLA 10-m elevation product (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Smith et al., 2010; Smith et al., 2017). The slope is represented with four traditional colors 0В° to 5В° (light green), 5В° to 10В° (bright green), 10В° to 15В° (dark green), 15В° to 20В° (yellow), and >20В° (red). The map covers the region between Shackleton and de Gerlache craters. Slope data are overlain on a derived hillshade with solar azimuth 45В°W and solar elevation 45В°.

A product of the Exploration Science Summer Intern Program: Harish, Venkata Satya Kumar Animireddi, Natasha Barrett, Sarah Boazman, Aleksandra Gawronska, Cosette Gilmour, Samuel Halim, Kathryn McCanaan, Jahnavi Shah, and David Kring.

Download option: Map 3, PDF (67 MB). LPI Contribution 2324, https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11753/1441

Topographic Contour Map of the Moon’s South Pole Ridge

This map is based on data collected by the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) on board the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The map shows the LOLA 5-m elevation product (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Smith et al., 2010, 2017). The extent of the map shows the lunar south pole (which lies on the rim of Shackleton crater) and the south polar ridge. An asymmetrical color stretch has been applied to the elevation data to highlight the topographical differences in this region. The elevation data are overlain on a derived hillshade with solar azimuth 45В°W and solar elevation 45В°. The map includes contours with 100-m intervals, derived using the elevation data.

A product of the Exploration Science Summer Intern Program: Kathryn McCanaan, Venkata Satya Kumar Animireddi, Natasha Barrett, Sarah Boazman, Aleksandra Gawronska, Cosette Gilmour, Samuel Halim, Harish, Jahnavi Shah, and David Kring. LPI Contribution No. 2213, https://repository.hou.usra.edu/handle/20.500.11753/1326

Slope Map of the Moon’s South Pole Ridge

This map is based on data collected by the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) onboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The map shows slopes derived from the LOLA 5-m elevation product (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Smith et al., 2010; Smith et al., 2017) using Horn’s formula binned into seven slope ranges and assigned color values. The extent of the map shows the lunar south pole (which lies on the rim of Shackleton crater) and the south polar ridge. The slope data are overlain on a derived hillshade with solar azimuth 45В°W and solar elevation 45В°.

A product of the Exploration Science Summer Intern Program: Kathryn McCanaan, Venkata Satya Kumar Animireddi, Natasha Barrett, Sarah Boazman, Aleksandra Gawronska, Cosette Gilmour, Samuel Halim, Harish, Jahnavi Shah, and David Kring.В LPI Contribution no. 2214, https://repository.hou.usra.edu/handle/20.500.11753/1327

MIIGAiK Hypsometric Map of the Lunar Polar Areas

Topographic maps provided courtesy of Moscow State University of Geodesy and Cartography (MIIGAiK). The maps include the lunar polar regions to 75В°. The maps are based on Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) and SELENE (Kaguya) data, and include feature names. Polar stereographic projection is used with scale true at the pole. Relief of features and supplementary maps of proposed Luna 25 landing sites in Boguslawsky crater are also included.

Citation: Kokhanov A. A., Rodionova Zh. F., and Karachevtseva I. P.В (2016) Hypsometric Map of the Lunar Polar Areas, Moscow State University of Geodesy and Cartography (MIIGAiK).

Download options: PDF (36.8 MB), English translation reduced-size version PNG (7.5 MB)

USGS Scientific Investigations Map, South Pole Image Map

Image map of the south polar region based on data provided by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) Wide Angle Camera (WAC). This view of the south polar region is a portion of a larger image map of the entire Moon. The map was produced by the USGS for NASA. We refer users to the original USGS Scientific Investigations Map, number 3316, for details needed for complete and proper use of the map. For users wanting to study the historical evolution of lunar maps, we refer them to the LPI Lunar Map Catalog.

Source: Image Map of the Moon by T. M. Hare, R. K. Hayward, J. S. Blue, and B. A. Archinal, Scientific Investigations Map 3316, Sheet 1 of 2, United States Geological Survey, 2015.

USGS Scientific Investigations Map, South Pole Topographic Map

Topographic map of the south polar region based on Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) data. This view of the south polar region is a portion of a larger map of the entire Moon. The map was produced by the USGS for NASA. We refer users to the original USGS Scientific Investigations Map, number 3316, for details needed for complete and proper use of the map. For users wanting to study the historical evolution of lunar maps, we refer them to the LPI Lunar Map Catalog.

Source: Topographic Map of the Moon by T. M. Hare, R. K. Hayward, J. S. Blue, and B. A. Archinal, Scientific Investigations Map 3316, Sheet 2 of 2, United States Geological Survey, 2015.

Select Lunar Polar Images

Clementine

Lunar Polar Composite Images

These unpresuming-looking polar composite images, taken of the poles over the course of a lunar day, show the impact-cratered polar regions host permanently shadowed regions (PSRs) and some highly-illuminated topographic ridges. The south polar composite provides a glimpse of Shackleton Crater, which dominates the topography in the immediate vicinity of the lunar south pole. These Clementine views sparked new research and additional spacecraft observations of the polar regions.

Source: NASA Clementine Mission/LPI.

Clementine Mosaic of South Pole

Mosaic of about 650 Clementine images of the south pole of the Moon, from 80В°S to the pole (center). The nearside of the Moon is the top half of the image; the bottom half is the farside. The dark region near the pole indicates an old depression, inside the rim crest of the South Pole-Aitken Basin (slide #25). Large parts of this area (about 15,000 km 2 ) are permanently shadowed, and bistatic radar results from Clementine indicate that they could contain deposits of water ice.

Monthly Views of the South Pole

The spin axis of the Moon is nearly vertical (inclined 1.6В°) to the ecliptic plane (the plane of its orbit around the Sun), in marked contrast to the Earth (axis inclination 23.5В°). However, even this small inclination means that the hemispheres of the Moon experience “seasons,” as the pole tracks toward and away from the Sun. Clementine started its lunar mapping in the dead of southern “winter” (axis away from the Sun), but by the second month of mapping, the axis had begun to point closer in that direction. These two mosaics show the difference in lighting conditions between the first month of mapping (left, maximum winter) and the second month’s coverage (right, toward the “solstice”). Careful examination of the two mosaics reveals some slight shadow changes; note in particular the shadows that cover the floors of the craters Amundsen and Scott (large central peak crater at about 3 o’clock and the crater just above it). However, the large region of permanent shadow near the center of the mosaics discovered by Clementine remains virtually unchanged in the two mosaics.

Clementine South Pole Mosaic

Mosaic of the lunar south polar region created from approximately 1500 images captured by an ultraviolet/visible camera on the Clementine spacecraft.В This mosaic was created by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and is also available from NASA JPL as image number PIA00001.В

Source: В USGS and NASA JPL Photojournal.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

Perspective View of Schrodinger Basin and South Pole (1)

Orbital perspective of the lunar south pole as viewed looking from the north and over the lunar farside surface. The south polar region is a heavily cratered terrain, with dramatic topography, rather than the relatively flat lava flow surface that characterized the Apollo 11 landing site. The south pole, at the top of the image, is on the rim of the 21-km-diameter Shackleton Crater, which is not easily discerned from shadows in this oblique perspective.

Source: NASA GSFC Scientific Visualization Studio.

Perspective View of Schrodinger Basin and South Pole (2)

Orbital perspective of the lunar south pole and the

32- km-diameter Schrödinger Basin on the lunar farside. The Schrödinger Basin features a 1- to 2.5-km-high peak ring. It hosts a pyroclastic vent that may have been the largest indigenous source of volatiles in the south polar region. The basin also contains a small lava field, which is the closest intact lava field to the south pole. Studies have shown the Schrödinger Basin is a science-rich landing site for both robotic and human missions. Moreover, there are several in situ resource utilization (ISRU) targets within the basin.

Source: NASA GSFC Scientific Visualization Studio.

Gravity Field of Schrodinger Basin and South Pole

The gravity field over the SchrГ¶dinger Basin and south polar region is shown on a terrain image produced with LRO laser altimeter (LOLA) topography and LRO camera (LROC) imagery. This gravity map was generated by the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission and is presented here in a free-air gravity form. The color-coded map presents mass excesses in red and mass deficits in blue. Earth can be seen above and beyond the limb of the Moon. Additional details of the gravity field over the south pole are available in Goossens et al., (2014) Geophysical Research Letters 41, 3367–3374.

Source: NASA GSFC Scientific Visualization Studio.

View of South Pole-Aitken Basin and South Pole

The south pole occurs at the margin of the immense, approximately 2500-km-diameter South Pole-Aitken (SPA) Basin. The large basin is so named because it is bounded by the south pole and the Aitken crater. Some of the mountains (or massifs) in the vicinity of the south pole may be large blocks of the lunar crust that were displaced by the SPA basin-forming impact event. Estimates of the age of the SPA basin are near 4.3 billion years, but the age needs to be measured with SPA samples. Determining the age of the SPA Basin is a high-priority scientific objective.

Source: LPI (annotated LROC WAC image produced by NASA/GSFC/ASU)

Lunar Polar Movies

One Month of Polar Illumination at the South Pole

The movie shows the illumination of the south polar region of the Moon over the course of one month (one lunar day). The Moon’s spin axis is nearly perpendicular to its plane of orbit around the Sun. As a result, an observer in the polar area always sees the Sun just slightly above or below the horizon. Irregularities such as mountain peaks or crater floors may be in either permanent sunlight or permanent darkness. This movie was made to search for areas of both types. Permanently lit areas could provide a landed spacecraft with solar power to survive the long (14 Earth day) lunar night. Permanent dark areas could contain cometary ice deposits, a valuable resource for use on the Moon. The south sole is located near the rim crest of the circular crater at center at about the 10 o’clock position. As you watch the illumination move 360° around the pole, you will note several areas that seem to be permanently dark; these regions may contain ice. A few very small areas appear to be permanently, or nearly so, illuminated.

Source: NASA Clementine Mission/LPI.

Lunar Polar Illustrations

Cross-section of Shackleton Crater

Shackleton Crater at the lunar south pole is often described as a future outpost site for lunar exploration activities. A permanent station at that location might benefit from sunlight that is available >50% of the time, which will help provide power for outpost activities. On the other hand, the topography is dramatic at the lunar south pole. Shackleton Crater dwarfs the Grand Canyon. Shackleton Crater is 4.2 km deep, which is more than 3 times deeper than the Grand Canyon. Access to the crater floor will be difficult from an outpost on the crater rim. Also, traverses to other locations within the South Pole-Aitken Basin will often need to circumnavigate the crater. Not all of the features at the lunar south pole are depressions. Malapert Peak, for example, rises to a summit 4 to 5 km above the mean surface elevation. Explorers will likely be transfixed by the dichotomy and extraordinary beauty of such dramatic features.

Illustration Credit: LPI/CLSE

Scale of Shackleton Crater

Shackleton Crater at the lunar south pole is a simple, bowl-shaped crater, similar to Meteor Crater on Earth, but nearly 20 times larger in diameter. The 21-km-diameter Shackleton Crater is comparable in size to a city, shown here in comparison to the city of Houston, home of the NASA Johnson Space Center. The rim of the crater is uplifted relative to adjacent terrain and covered in impact ejected debris. The rim of the crater provides a lofty ridge around the 4.2-km-deep Shackleton Crater, whose floor is permanently shaded from sunlight. The lunar south pole is located on the rim of Shackleton Crater.

Illustration Credit: LPI/CLSE

Permanently Shadowed Region

As the Sun moves along the horizon in a lunar polar region, it can partially illuminate some surfaces (yellow) like the walls of a crater. Even though all of the walls of the crater may be illuminated as the Sun moves across the sky (panels from left to right), a portion of the crater floor may remain in shadow (red). That type of area is called a permanently shadowed region (PSR). [From J. Barnes, R. French, J. Garber, W. Poole, P. Holly Smith, and Y. Tian (2012) Science concept 2: The structure and composition of the lunar interior provide fundamental information on the evolution of a differentiated planetary body. In A Global Lunar Landing Site Study to Provide the Scientific Context for Exploration of the Moon (D.A. Kring and D.D. Durda, eds.) pp. 47–131], LPI Contribution No. 1694, Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston.

Illustration Credit: LPI/CLSE

Sweeping Terminator at Lunar Poles

The Sun does not pass overhead on an arc from east to west at the lunar poles. Rather, the Sun hovers near the horizon and circles the poles. For that reason, the terminator – which is the boundary between daylight and nighttime conditions – rotates around the poles. Because the Sun is near the horizon and because the topography of the south pole (seen here) is so dramatic, shadows are cast that produce an irregular terminator.

Illustration Credit: LPI/CLSE (David A. Kring)

Temperatures on the lunar surface can be quite cold, hovering only a few tens of degrees above absolute zero (0 Kelvin or 0 K). For example, a low temperature of 23 K has been measured by the DIVINER instrument on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. At those temperatures many volatile elements are frozen and would be trapped on the surface in the form of ice. If temperatures were to rise slightly, some of those materials could begin to sublimate or be converted directly to a gas. Of the four substances shown (water, ammonia, carbon dioxide, and argon), water would freeze first when temperatures fall and the last to sublimate when temperatures rise. [From J. Barnes, R. French, J. Garber, W. Poole, P. Holly Smith, and Y. Tian (2012) Science concept 2: The structure and composition of the lunar interior provide fundamental information on the evolution of a differentiated planetary body. In A Global Lunar Landing Site Study to Provide the Scientific Context for Exploration of the Moon (D.A. Kring and D.D. Durda, eds.) pp. 47–131], LPI Contribution No. 1694, Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston.

Illustration Credit: LPI/CLSE

Temperature Chart of Solar System Objects and the Lunar South Pole

Clementine observations suggest the floors and walls of some impact craters near the north and south poles of the Moon may be permanently shadowed. If so, temperatures in those shadowed regions will be very low, with calculated estimates ranging from 40 to 110 K. Volatile elements, like hydrogen, may accumulate at those cold temperatures and thus may be a resource for future explorers. To illustrate those low temperatures, this graphic compares temperatures in permanently shadowed lunar craters with temperatures associated with a variety of icy objects in the solar system. Temperatures are, for example, much colder than average surface temperatures of outer solar system moons Callisto, Ganymede, and Europa. They are similar to those of the icy rings of Saturn or the surfaces of comets far from the Sun.

Illustration Credit: UA/David A. Kring

A schematic diagram illustrating the potential distribution of volatile components, like water ice, in the near-surface rocks of the Moon. Volatile elements can be absorbed onto grains at the surface of the lunar regolith on scales of nanometers. They can also be trapped within solidified volcanic and impact melt samples on scales of micrometers to millimeters. Volatile elements may also exist as deposits within impact craters or in discrete subsurface horizons, both of which may occur on scales of meters to kilometers. The potentially patchy distribution of volatile components like water ice make interpretation from orbit difficult and require in situ analyses by robotic landers/rovers and/or humans on the lunar surface.

Illustration Credit: LPI/CLSE

Lunar Highland Regolith Sample 63507,13

Apollo sample 63507 (split ,13) is representative of highland regolith breccias. It is feldspathic, submature, and friable, with an estimated porosity of 30% and an estimated bulk density of 2 g/cm 3 . Although regolith breccias at the lunar poles and in the highlands of the lunar farside have not yet been collected, this sample can be used as a tentative proxy for them. A 500-Вµm scale bar is shown in the lower right corner. The field of view is 3 mm wide.

Illustration Credit: LPI/CLSE

Water in Lunar Highland Regolith

The potential distribution of water in lunar highland regolith near the lunar south pole. Estimates for the mass of water in the regolith hit by the LCROSS impactor are

5 weight percent [e.g., Colaprete et al. (2010), Science 330, pp. 463–468]. That value corresponds to

10 volume percent in a highland regolith breccia. If that water filled large pore spaces in the regolith, it could look like the left panel, where the water is highlighted in blue. To better see the potential distribution of water ice, the pore-filled regions are shown in the right panel without the regolith breccia. Future missions to the lunar surface are needed to determine if this is the true distribution of water ice. For illustration purposes, the Apollo 16 regolith sample 63507,13 was used as a proxy for highland regolith breccias near the lunar south pole. A 500-Вµm scale bar is shown in the lower right corner. The field of view is 3 mm wide.

Illustration Credit: LPI/CLSE (Amy L. Fagan and David A. Kring)

Water in Lunar Highland Regolith

The potential distribution of water in lunar highland regolith near the lunar south pole. Estimates for the mass of water in the regolith hit by the LCROSS impactor are

5 weight percent [e.g., Colaprete et al. (2010) Science 330, pp. 463–468]. That value corresponds to

10 volume percent in a highland regolith breccia. If that water was distributed along grain boundaries within the regolith, it could look like the left panel, where the water is highlighted in blue. To better see the potential distribution of water ice, the water along grain boundaries is shown in the right panel without the regolith breccia. To further illustrate that distribution, a magnified view of a small region is shown as an inset. The thin distribution of water around the margins of grains is clearly evident in the inset. For illustration purposes, the Apollo 16 regolith sample 63507,13 was used as a proxy for highland regolith breccias near the lunar south pole. A 500-Вµm scale bar is shown in the lower right corner. The field of view is 3 mm wide. A complementary illustration showing the concentration of water in bigger pore spaces within a breccia is also available in our classroom illustration collection.

Illustration Credit: LPI/CLSE (Amy L. Fagan and David A. Kring)

Geographic Distribution of Apollo Sample Sites v1

The diversity of sample sites grew as the Apollo program evolved, but astronauts were still limited to a very small near-equatorial region of the Moon. The area represented by the Apollo sample sites is only 2.7% of the lunar surface [Warren and Kallemeyn (1991) Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 55, p. 3123]. This may not be readily apparent in a nearside view of the Moon (far left). In this projection, the vast surface areas as one moves toward the poles are misleadingly shortened. If one looks instead at the north and south poles of the Moon (center), the Apollo sites are clustered in a small region near the equator. In this projection, it is clear that the Apollo missions did not sample polar material. Moreover, the Apollo missions did not sample any material from the lunar farside (far right). Most of the Moon remains unexplored and is a rich target for discovery. The distribution of sample sites is mapped on projections of Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Wide Angle Camera mosaics.

Illustration credit: LPI/CLSE (Debra Hurwitz)

Geographic Distribution of Apollo Sample Sites v2

The diversity of sample sites grew as the Apollo program evolved, but astronauts were still limited to a very small near-equatorial region of the Moon. The area represented by the Apollo sample sites is only 2.7% of the lunar surface [Warren and Kallemeyn (1991) Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 55, p. 3123]. This may not be readily apparent in a nearside view of the Moon (far left). In this projection, the vast surface areas as one moves towards the poles are misleadingly shortened. If one looks instead at the north and south poles of the Moon (center), the Apollo sites are clustered in a small region near the equator. In this projection, it is clear that the Apollo missions did not sample polar material. Moreover, the Apollo missions did not sample any material from the lunar farside (far right). Most of the Moon remains unexplored and is a rich target for discovery. The distribution of sample sites is mapped on projections of Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter topography data overlain on Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Wide Angle Camera mosaics.

Illustration credit: LPI/CLSE (Debra Hurwitz)

Scale of Lunar South Polar Mountains – v1

The south pole occurs in the midst of several mountains, called massifs on the Moon. Those massifs may have been created by the impact event that produced the 2,500 km diameter South Pole-Aitken basin, the largest and oldest impact basin on the Moon. One of those massifs is Malapert massif. Human missions to Malapert massif have been proposed. Traverses from the south pole to Malapert massif and vice versa have also been proposed. The topography generated by those massifs and juxtaposing impact craters is dramatic. Here that topography is illustrated with a transect across the Malapert massif and the adjacent Haworth crater. The change in elevation exceeds 8 km (left panel), a value very close to elevation of Earth’s Mt. Everest above sea level (right panel).

Illustration credit: LPI/CLSE

Scale of Lunar South Polar Mountains – v2

The south pole occurs in the midst of several mountains, called massifs on the Moon. Those massifs may have been created by the impact event that produced the 2,500 km diameter South Pole-Aitken basin, the largest and oldest impact basin on the Moon. One of those massifs is Leibnitz β (Beta). A reconnaissance of the base of Leibnitz β was examined during the Constellation program, with a 14-day-long traverse beginning at Malapert massif. The summit of Leibnitz β is the highest elevation in the region. To illustrate the topography generated by that massif, a transect across the summit and the adjacent Shoemaker crater is shown. The change in elevation exceeds 10 km (left panel) and the elevation of Earth’s Mt. Everest above sea level (right panel).

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