Scientists identify 280 hidden craters on the Moon

Melbourne, PTI | Updated : 19 June 2013, 09:25 AM

Australian scientists have identified 280 new craters on the Moon that have never been mapped before, using a combination of gravity and terrain modelling.

Researchers at Curtin University in Australia identified the lunar craters and categorised 66 of those as distinctly visible from both a gravity and topographic perspective.

The Moon's surface is saturated with craters, almost all of which were formed by impacts. The newly identified craters may throw light on lunar history.

Professor Will Featherstone of Curtin's Institute for Geoscience Research said that identifying such a large number of lunar craters was a result of using computer modelling of the lunar gravity and topography data, where regional features were removed to reveal more detailed basins that would otherwise be obscured using other techniques.

"Our curiosity-driven work initially focused on the identification of two basins on the lunar far side, but was extended during the peer-review process of scientific papers so as to cover the whole Moon," Featherstone said.

"The dark side of the Moon is particularly challenging because Moon-orbiting satellites cannot be tracked from Earth when they are over the far side," he said.

Featherstone said the team was optimistic about further discoveries after applying their techniques to the new gravity data collected by NASA's GRAIL mission, which ceased when the two satellites - named Ebb and Flow - were deliberately crashed on the Moon on 17 December 2012.

Beyond the Moon and Earth, the team has also developed an ultra-high resolution gravity map of Mars.

The new research will be published in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Planets.

First Published: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 09:23 AM
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