facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

NASA moon probes make detailed gravity map

Dec. 5, 2012 at 5:48 PM   |   Comments

PASADENA, Calif., Dec. 5 (UPI) -- NASA says its twin probes orbiting Earth's moon have generated the highest resolution gravity field map of any celestial body.

The new map, created by the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission, is giving scientists clues to the moon's internal structure and composition in unprecedented detail, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., reported Wednesday.

Features never before seen in detail include tectonic structures, volcanic landforms, basin rings, crater central peaks and numerous simple, bowl-shaped craters, JPL scientists said.

Data from the two washing machine-sized GRAIL spacecraft also shows the moon's gravity field is unlike that of any terrestrial planet in our solar system, they said.

"What this map tells us is that more than any other celestial body we know of, the moon wears its gravity field on its sleeve," GRAIL Principal Investigator Maria Zuber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge said. "When we see a notable change in the gravity field, we can sync up this change with surface topography features such as craters, rilles or mountains."

Gravity data from the GRAIL mission could also provide a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed and evolved, scientists said.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Recommended UPI Stories
Featured UPI Collection
trending
2014: The Year in Music [PHOTOS]

2014: The Year in Music [PHOTOS]

Most Popular
1
Audi gets permit to test self-driving cars in California Audi gets permit to test self-driving cars in California
2
Say goodbye to Chinese sturgeon Say goodbye to Chinese sturgeon
3
First 3D-printed car unveiled in Chicago First 3D-printed car unveiled in Chicago
4
Apple's latest operating system rolls out Wednesday afternoon Apple's latest operating system rolls out Wednesday afternoon
5
Dogs are the favorite food of leopards in rural India Dogs are the favorite food of leopards in rural India
Trending News
Video
x
Feedback