Washington, Feb 28 : The proposed site for the landing of a future human lunar lander on the surface of the moon, has determined by NASA as being much more rugged than previously understood.
After obtaining the highest resolution terrain mapping to date of the moon's rugged south polar region by using NASA's Goldstone Solar System Radar located in California's Mojave Desert, scientists generated the imagery into animation.
This animation depicted the descent to the lunar surface of a future human lunar lander and a flyover of Shackleton Crater.
The Shackleton rim area is considered a candidate landing site for a future human mission to the moon.
The mapping data collected indicate that the region of the moon's south pole near Shackleton Crater is much more rugged than previously understood.
"There are challenges that come with such rugged terrain, and these data will be an invaluable tool for advance planning of lunar missions," said Doug Cooke, deputy associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, Washington.
"We now know the south pole has peaks as high as Mt. McKinley and crater floors four times deeper than the Grand Canyon," he added.
"I have not been to the moon, but this imagery is the next best thing," said Scott Hensley, a scientist at JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) and lead investigator for the study. "With these data, we can see terrain features as small as a house without even leaving the office," he added.
Previously, the best resolution of the moon's south pole was generated by the Clementine spacecraft, which could resolve lunar terrain features near the south pole at 1 kilometer per pixel.
The new resolution generated by JPL is 50 times more detailed.