Astronomy Now Online
Home Magazine Resources Store


Top Stories


Hibernating magnetar springs to life

...a mysterious celestial object that emitted 40 visible light flashes before disappearing again could be a missing link in the family of neutron stars...

read more

Evidence of life could survive in Martian meteorites

...an artificial meteorite plunged through the Earth’s atmosphere has shown that traces of life could survive the high temperatures and pressures endured in such an ordeal...

read more

Solar wind at 50 year low

...the Sun’s solar wind output is at its lowest levels since recordings began, an effect that could see our natural shielding to cosmic rays diminish...

read more



Spaceflight Now +



Subscribe to Spaceflight Now Plus for access to our extensive video collections!
How do I sign up?
Video archive

STS-120 day 2 highlights

Flight Day 2 of Discovery's mission focused on heat shield inspections. This movie shows the day's highlights.

 Play

STS-120 day 1 highlights

The highlights from shuttle Discovery's launch day are packaged into this movie.

 Play

STS-118: Highlights

The STS-118 crew, including Barbara Morgan, narrates its mission highlights film and answers questions in this post-flight presentation.

 Full presentation
 Mission film

STS-120: Rollout to pad

Space shuttle Discovery rolls out of the Vehicle Assembly Building and travels to launch pad 39A for its STS-120 mission.

 Play

Dawn leaves Earth

NASA's Dawn space probe launches aboard a Delta 2-Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral to explore two worlds in the asteroid belt.

 Full coverage

Dawn: Launch preview

These briefings preview the launch and science objectives of NASA's Dawn asteroid orbiter.

 Launch | Science

Become a subscriber
More video



A smart look at the peak of eternal light
BY DR EMILY BALDWIN
ASTRONOMY NOW

Posted: September 29, 2008

Although the SMART-1 spacecraft was buried in the graveyard of lunar regolith over two years ago, new three-dimensional images taken by the AMIE camera of the so-called ‘peak of eternal light’ have just been released by ESA.

A mosaic of the lunar south pole showing possible landing sites (numbered). The peak of eternal light is marked in red. Image: P. J. Stoke.

The breath-taking images were presented by Dr Detlef Koschny on the last day of the European Planetary Science Congress meeting last week. The images taken by the AMIE camera (Advanced Moon micro-Imager Experiment) were used to create digital elevation models of the terrain at the south pole, in particular around areas which are almost continuously exposed to sunlight, and therefore of most interest to scientists hoping to see future lunar bases operating on solar power.

“AMIE is not a stereo camera, so producing a 3-D model of the surface has been a challenge,” says Koschny.  “We’ve used a technique where we use the brightness of reflected light to determine the slope and, by comparing several images, put together a model that produces a shadow pattern that matches those observed by SMART-1.”

AMIE took a total of 113 images of the peak located close to the rim of the Shackleton Crater, which lies on the lunar south pole. In all but four of the images, the peak was illuminated by sunlight. In direct contrast, other craters at the south pole are in constant darkness and may hold water ice deposited over millions of years by cometary impacts. These permanently shadowed regions could offer a potential water supply that would also provide a vital resource for any lunar base. Looking for water ice at the south pole is one of the main goals of the LCROSS mission to be launched next year (for more on LCROSS see our news story  Water-seeking Moon spacecraft passes major pre-flight tests).
 

Top: The peak of eternal light as viewed from the rim of Shackleton Crater. The peak is along the ridge in the centre of the image. Bottom: The peak of eternal light with Shackleton Crater just off the image to the right, and landing site 4 on the left hand side of the peak. Images: ESA/SMART-1/SPACE-X (Space Exploration Institute).

In the images shown here, the peak of eternal light is illuminated from different angles. The science team mapped all the image pixels onto a grid (the resolution of the AMIE images is about 50 metres per pixel), defining the bright and dark areas accordingly. The data from the images were then compared to produce estimates of the slope angles, and the digital elevation model was matched to the shadows seen in the images. The original AMIE images were then projected onto the model. In order to visualise the topography, the elevation has been exaggerated five times.
 

The Planets
From tiny Mercury to distant Neptune and Pluto, The Planets profiles each of the Solar System's members in depth, featuring the latest imagery from space missions. The tallest mountains, the deepest canyons, the strongest winds, raging atmospheric storms, terrain studded with craters and vast worlds of ice are just some of the sights you'll see on this 100-page tour of the planets.
 GET YOUR COPY

Hubble Reborn
Hubble Reborn takes the reader on a journey through the Universe with spectacular full-colour pictures of galaxies, nebulae, planets and stars as seen through Hubble's eyes, along the way telling the dramatic story of the space telescope, including interviews with key scientists and astronauts.
 GET YOUR COPY

3D Universe
Witness the most awesome sights of the Universe as they were meant to be seen in this 100-page extravaganza of planets, galaxies and star-scapes, all in 3D!
 GET YOUR COPY


HOME | NEWS ARCHIVE | MAGAZINE | SOLAR SYSTEM | SKY CHART | RESOURCES | STORE | SPACEFLIGHT NOW

© 2014 Pole Star Publications Ltd.