Australian astronomers may have discovered 280 new craters on the Moon using new mapping data. The craters were discovered using data collected by satellites orbiting the Moon.
Researchers from Curtin University, in Western Australia, were able to create a high-resolution gravity map of the Moon by using data collected satellites, according to the news release. Researchers measured gravity levels as well as surface features to discover 280 new craters on the Moon of which 66 were able to be identified using topography, measuring elevation and surface features, and gravity data. The study will be published in the Journal of Geophysical Research -- Planets.
Will Featherstone, Christian Hirt and Michael Kuhn came up with the idea to use topography and gravity data to create new maps of the Moon when they created similar maps of Earth, the news release notes. “What we have been able to use is the topography and the gravity together to get a stronger indication that there is something there that needs further investigation,” Featherstone said to the Agence France-Presse.
Using computer models, the researchers were able to remove certain surface features that hid the craters. “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.
Collecting the majority of data proved to not be a problem for the researchers, but once the satellites made their way to the dark side of the Moon, the side permanently facing away from Earth, it was out of their hands as the satellites could not be controlled or tracked from Earth. The researchers plan on using this data and combining it with data gathered by NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory, or Grail, mission and its two now-defunct satellites, Ebb and Flow, which were crashed into the Moon on purpose. Ebb and Flow did not have enough fuel to continue orbiting the Moon.