There's little water inside Moon, suggests hi-res map

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Washington, Feb 13 (ANI): The most detailed map of the Moon ever created has suggested that there is little water inside the lunar surface.

Developed by an international research team, the high-resolution map is also revealing secrets about the Moon's interior, and hinting about Mars's interior as well.

"The surface can tell us a lot about what's happening inside the Moon, but until now mapping has been very limited," said C.K. Shum, professor of earth sciences at Ohio State University.

"For instance, with this new high-resolution map, we can confirm that there is very little water on the Moon today, even deep in the interior. And we can use that information to think about water on other planets, including Mars," he added.

Using the laser altimeter (LALT) instrument on board the Japanese Selenological and Engineering Explorer (SELENE) satellite, the researchers mapped the Moon at an unprecedented 15-kilometer (9-mile) resolution.

The map is the first to cover the Moon from pole to pole, with detailed measures of surface topography, on the dark side of the moon as well as the near side.

In part, the new map will serve as a guide for future lunar rovers, which will scour the surface for geological resources.

But, Araki and his colleagues did something more with the map: they measured the roughness of the lunar surface, and used that information to calculate the stiffness of the crust.

If water flowed beneath the lunar surface, the crust would be somewhat flexible, but it wasn't. The surface was too rigid to allow for any liquid water, even deep within the Moon.

Earth's surface is more flexible, by contrast, with the surface rising or falling as water flows above or below ground.

"This design significantly improved our ability to model gravity fields on the moon, and let us compute the main satellite's orbit more accurately than was possible before, especially over the far side the Moon. That led to more accurate measurement of the lunar topography using LALT," Shum said. (ANI)

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