NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 5 May 2023: Shackleton crater on the Moon
Today’s NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day is a snapshot of the Shackleton crater located on the South Pole of the Moon.
The Moon's presence impacts several occurrences on the planet, such as the rise and fall of tides. As a result, Earth's natural satellite has long been one of the most central pieces of studies related to Earth. Scientists believe that the Moon formed approximately 4.5 billion years ago, shortly after the solar system took shape. Just like our planet, the Moon is a desert with plains, mountains, and valleys. It also has many craters and holes created when space rocks impact the lunar surface at high speeds and create regolith.
Today's NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day is a snapshot of the Shackleton crater located on the South Pole of the Moon. According to NASA, peaks along the Shackleton crater's rim are exposed to almost continual sunlight, while the interior is perpetually in shadow. This is due to the Moon being slightly tilted on its axis. The lunar South Pole, which is where this crater is located, has also been chosen as one of the most probable landing sites for future Moon missions.
The picture was captured by the ShadowCam. It is a NASA-funded instrument hosted onboard the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO) satellite.
NASA's description of the picture
Shackleton crater lies at the lunar south pole. Peaks along the 21 kilometer diameter are in sunlight, but Shackleton's floor is in dark permanent shadow. Still, this image of the shadowed rim wall and floor of Shackleton crater was captured from NASA's ShadowCam, an instrument on board the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO) launched in August 2022. About 200 times more sensitive than, for example, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's Narrow Angle Camera, ShadowCam was designed image the permanently shadowed regions of the lunar surface.
Avoiding direct sunlight, those regions are expected to be reservoirs of water-ice and other volatiles deposited by ancient cometary impacts and useful to future Moon missions. Of course, the permanently shadowed regions are still illuminated by reflections of sunlight from nearby lunar terrain. In this stunningly detailed ShadowCam image, an arrow marks the track made by a single boulder rolling down Shackleton crater's wall. The image scale is indicated at the bottom of the frame.
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