The South pole of the Moon (photo)

The LRO mission support group has published a new photograph. It shows the south pole of the moon.

The south pole of the Moon through the eyes of the LRO apparatus. Source: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

The southern polar region of the Moon is a priority target for many automated spacecraft, as well as for future manned expeditions. This is due to the fact that at the bottom of many polar craters, which are never illuminated by sunlight, there are deposits of water ice. It can be used both to supply the inhabitants of lunar settlements with water and oxygen, and to manufacture rocket fuel components.

The LRO spacecraft has been exploring the Moon since 2009. Initially, it was in orbit with an inclination of 90°, regularly flying over the south pole of the moon. Over time, its inclination changed to 84°. But, even though now LRO does not fly over the lunar poles, engineers can still turn the device to take their “side” pictures.

The south pole of the Moon (top view). Source: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

We have one of these images in front of us. It was obtained when the LRO was at an altitude of 81 km above the point with coordinates 84.47° South and 359.2° East. We see the shaft of the 21-kilometer Shackleton crater. The South Pole is located on one of its inner slopes (its position is marked by an arrow). The characteristic bright crater next to it has a diameter of 100 meters.

The south pole of the Moon (the arrow indicates its exact position). Source: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

In December 2022, the South Korean Danuri spacecraft will enter orbit around the Moon. Among the instruments on board is a NASA-provided ShadowCam camera. It is specially designed to photograph the eternally shadowed craters at the poles of the Moon. Planetary scientists are looking forward to its images, which in the truest sense of the word will shed light on what is at their bottom.

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