June 1, 2020

19.03.11: Our Moon… in Cosmic Rays.

Sure, you’ve seen the Moon countless times, and perhaps you’ve been drawn out, zombie-like to view this weekend’s “Super-Moon,” but have you ever seen the moon in… cosmic rays?  This is but one gem that has come out of NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).

Earlier, this week, LRO’s science team has released treasure trove of data from the completion of its primary exploration phase, including the aforementioned cosmic ray albedo map. Other nuggets include one of our current faves, a high resolution map of the lunar farside.

Compare that to the very first blurry image taken by the first Soviet flyby of Luna 3 in 1959!

You’ve come along way baby. So, why measure and probe Luna in such detail? We’ve already be there, picked up some rocks, played golf on the surface, right? Well, few realize that the Apollo missions were only brief fortrays on a very small slice of the surface; it would be like making a generalization of the characteristics of Earth from a weekend visit to Detroit. Characterizing the radiation environment of the Moon is going to be important if we want to go and live there for an extended period of time, and LRO may pave the way for just such a day. The lunar farside is definitely very different than the familiar nearside, with a decided lack of maria. Other missions such as Japans Kaguya probe also spied the first evidence for lunar caves in the form of collapsed lava tubes, which may also prove to be prime sites for a radiation-shielded lunar colony. As you view the Mega-Moon this weekend, do give pause to what robotic vanguards such as LRO (and follow @LRO_NASA on Twitter!) have revealed about our nearest neighbor in space.



  1. ramanirajput says:

    An informative article .

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