Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. 24/7 Space News .




SKY NIGHTLY
Do Pockmarks on the Moon Hold the Key to Our Origins
by Staff Writers
Houston TX (SPX) Jan 15, 2013


LRO has now collected the most detailed images yet of at least two lunar pits, quite literally giant holes in the moon. Scientists believe these holes are actually skylights that form when the ceiling of a subterranean lava tube collapses, possibly due to a meteorite impact punching its way through. One of these skylights, the Marius Hills pit, was observed multiple times by the Japanese SELENE/Kaguya research team. With a diameter of about 213 feet (65 meters) and an estimated depth of 260 to 290 feet (80 to 88 meters) it's a pit big enough to fit the White House completely inside. The image featured here is the Mare Ingenii pit. This hole is almost twice the size of the one in the Marius Hills and most surprisingly is found in an area with relatively few volcanic features. Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University.

The cavernous splotches that help give our moon its shape could be much more than a product of celestial aging. According to research conducted by roboticist Red Whittaker at Carnegie Mellon University, they could also serve as firsthand insight into our search for life on Mars.

Spates of lunar skylights are now being discovered with increased clarity thanks to the advancement of photographic technology. Skylights, which are born when the ceiling of lunar cave gives out under its own weight, allow expanded access to subterranean layers of the moon which previously seemed unattainable.

While these skylights have become easier to find, our image-casting technology falls short when it comes to their actual exploration. Although NASA's high-res Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter birls around the moon at a mere 50km and harbors one of our most sophisticated modeling systems, it struggles to process areas of the moon that loom in deeper, darker depressions. Unfortunately, skylights fall into that category.

The answer, according to Red and his team, is to take a two-part approach to inspection: aerial and surface. By syncing a flyover camera with a rover-mounted device, scientists are given the ability to model the moon's geography with increased precision.

Once a bird's-eye view has been captured, it can be used to instruct the path of a ground-mapping rover, which yields a higher quality model than using a land-based or airborne approach alone.

At Carnegie Mellon, researchers are putting the tandem to the test with encouraging results. While no actual space mission has been launched, reports show a 92% accuracy rate in simulated experiments, which is notably higher than the methods currently employed on the moon.

Additionally, the experimenters have witnessed significant path-length reduction for rovers. A shorter path means a faster, more efficient process with less lag time before data collection.

Of course, exploring these skylights is more than just an academic endeavor. Planetary caves could potentially offer protection from radiation and other hazards, and it's long been suspected that remnants of ancient life could be speckled under the surface of Mars.

Excavation and retrieval on the red planet is still a few years away; Mars is that much farther, that much colder, and that much more mysterious than our moon. But the first steps in combing through Martian bunkers are contingent on a thorough, successful test run on a lunar skylight. Not to mention, the technology required to dissect these skylights could help us right on our own turf, too.

According to Texas Electricity Providers, unveiling our moon's shadowy regions could lead to the capture and utilization of helium-3, a highly efficient resource for renewable energy.

With more and more research being poured into the field, it shouldn't be long before Dr. Whittaker is mapping the groundwork of our closest cosmic neighbors. And after that? Well, who's to say? I hear Jupiter is nice this time of year.

.


Related Links
Lunar Pits and Skylights at NASA
Helium-3 at Wikipedia
Texas Electricity Providers
Astronomy News from Skynightly.com






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





SKY NIGHTLY
NASA, Penn State give New Year's gift of space images
State College PA (SPX) Jan 04, 2013
A large new collection of space photos taken at wavelengths that are invisible to the human eye and blocked by Earth's atmosphere has been released as a New Year's gift to the people of Earth by NASA and Penn State University. The images were captured by a telescope on board NASA's Swift satellite, whose science and flight operations are controlled by Penn State from the Mission Operations ... read more


SKY NIGHTLY
Mission would drag asteroid to the moon

Russia designs manned lunar spacecraft

GRAIL Lunar Impact Site Named for Astronaut Sally Ride

NASA probes crash into the moon

SKY NIGHTLY
Mars One announces requirements for Red Planet colonists

Opportunity Heading Toward Light-Toned Veins

Bacteria In Rio Tinto Could Be Like Those On Mars

Mars500 project - salt balance of the Mars 'astronauts'

SKY NIGHTLY
AXE to Send 22 Guys to Space with New Apollo Campaign

IBM tops as tech titans scramble for US patents

Chinese tech firms pump up volume at CES

High fashion, high tech intersect at CES confab

SKY NIGHTLY
Mr Xi in Space

China plans manned space launch in 2013: state media

China to launch manned spacecraft

Tiangong 1 Parked And Waiting As Shenzhou 10 Mission Prep Continues

SKY NIGHTLY
Crew Wraps Up Robonaut Testing

Station Crew Ringing in New Year

Expedition 34 Ready to Ring in New Year

New ISS crew docked at Space Station

SKY NIGHTLY
Roscosmos Releases Report On Proton Launch Anomaly

Russia plans replacement for Soyuz rocket

Arianespace's industry leadership will continue with 12 launcher family missions planned in 2013

Arianespace addresses The Insurance Institute of London

SKY NIGHTLY
Earth-size planets common in galaxy

NASA's Hubble Reveals Rogue Planetary Orbit For Fomalhaut B

NASA, ESA Telescopes Find Evidence for Asteroid Belt Around Vega

Kepler Gets a Little Help From Its Friends

SKY NIGHTLY
Study reveals ordinary glass's extraordinary properties

Bottom-up approach provides first characterization of pyroelectric nanomaterials

Chemical modules that mimic predator-prey and other behaviors

Government funding for 'super-material'




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement