Local model better describes lunar gravity

Aug 27, 2014
This is a composite image of the lunar nearside taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in June 2009, note the presence of dark areas of maria on this side of the moon. Credit: NASA

Two satellites orbiting the Moon as a part of NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission have been mapping its inner structure by measuring subtle shifts in the pull of gravity on the satellites from points on the ground below. The stronger the shift, the greater is the mass of structures below the surface.

While the Moon-wide models produced by this mission are highly precise and have improved, Goossens et al. note that having to rely on many parameters could make the estimation of the models unstable. The authors instead created a local model of the Moon's south pole that can serve as a basis for higher-precision global models.

To do this, the authors took raw data from the GRAIL mission and tweaked the so that they could extract more information than typically found from formulas used in global models. They created a highly precise model that represents structures under the Moon's south pole more accurately than the global models. The authors note that their model has the potential to improve observations of small-scale features on and in the Moon.

Explore further: Computer model shows moon's core surrounded by liquid and it's caused by Earth's gravity

More information: Goossens, S., T. J. Sabaka, J. B. Nicholas, F. G. Lemoine, D. D. Rowlands, E. Mazarico, G. A. Neumann, D. E. Smith, and M. T. Zuber (2014), High-resolution local gravity model of the south pole of the Moon from GRAIL extended mission data, Geophys. Res. Lett., 41, 3367–3374, DOI: 10.1002/2014GL060178

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Australian team maps Moon's hidden craters

Jun 18, 2013

Australian scientists Tuesday said they had identified a possible 280 additional craters on the Moon, a finding they said could shed light on the history of the Earth's natural satellite.

Recommended for you

NASA issues 'remastered' view of Jupiter's moon Europa

Nov 21, 2014

(Phys.org) —Scientists have produced a new version of what is perhaps NASA's best view of Jupiter's ice-covered moon, Europa. The mosaic of color images was obtained in the late 1990s by NASA's Galileo ...

European space plane set for February launch

Nov 21, 2014

Europe's first-ever "space plane" will be launched on February 11 next year, rocket firm Arianespace said Friday after a three-month delay to fine-tune the mission flight plan.

Space station rarity: Two women on long-term crew

Nov 21, 2014

For the 21st-century spacewoman, gender is a subject often best ignored. After years of training for their first space mission, the last thing Samantha Cristoforetti and Elana Serova want to dwell on is the ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.