Scale of Lunar South Polar Mountains

SSERVI’s LPI/USRA team led by PI David Kring has produced two new images as part of the Lunar South Pole Atlas.

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 below), a value very close to elevation of Earth’s Mt. Everest above sea level (right panel below).

Illustration credit: LPI/CLSE

Another 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 below) and the elevation of Earth’s Mt. Everest above sea level (right panel below).

Illustration credit: LPI/CLSE

About the Lunar South Pole Atlas

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, LPI/USRA have compiled an online atlas that consists of a series of maps, images, and illustrations of the south polar region. New data products are 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. For more, visit the Lunar South Pole Atlas.

Posted by: Soderman/SSERVI Staff

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