The lunar south pole looks haunting in a new mosaic image that uses photography from two different NASA cameras orbiting the moon.
National Geographic, in coordination with NASA, has shared a never-before-seen high-resolution composite image of the lunar south pole with a detailed map of candidate Artemis 3 landing sites.
This striking image of the Moon’s south pole region was compiled from a series of photos taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), an array of cameras mounted on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter that circles the the Moon since June 2009, and ShadowCam, a NASA-funded instrument on the Korea Aerospace Research Institute’s Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO). ShadowCam is 200 times more sensitive to light than lunar cameras previously deployed by NASA, according to a statement from the agency.
Related: NASA’s lunar camera on South Korean probe peeks where the sun doesn’t shine
Here is the official description of the photo from NASA and NatGeo:
“Shrouded in permanent darkness, the interior of Shackleton Crater, near the Moon’s south pole, is revealed in this stunning mosaic. The crater itself was captured by ShadowCam, a NASA instrument designed to peer into the dark parts of the lunar surface that orbits the Moon. moon for nearly a year on the South Korean Danuri spacecraft. The surrounding areas were photographed by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter camera. Parts of three of the 13 regions of The potential landing for astronauts during Artemis 3 can be seen in this image.
Along with the mosaic image of Shackleton Crater, National Geographic released a topographical map of the lunar south pole showing potential Artemis 3 landing sites in the region.
It seems all eyes are on our only satellite these days, especially with India’s historic Chandrayaan-3 mission to the lunar south pole making news in recent weeks.
On August 23, 2023, India became the first country to land a spacecraft near the Moon’s south pole in a $77 million mission that made its space program only the fourth of history to achieve a soft landing on the Moon after the United States. the former Soviet Union and China. After a two-week mission exploring the surrounding area and conducting experiments, the Vikram lander and the Pragyan rover went into sleep mode at sunset, hopefully to be awakened on September 22.
Russia’s most recent attempt to reach the Moon’s south pole, the Luna-25 mission, ended in failure when its lander crashed into the lunar surface.
China and the United States want to send human crews to the south pole of the Moon. China has planned a mission no earlier than 2030, while NASA plans to land a crew of astronauts near the lunar south pole no earlier than 2025 in what is expected to be the first human mission to the Moon for over 50 years.
To learn more about this inspiring story and additional images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, check out the National Geographic article. special issue “Space” landing on September 19, 2023.