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ESA photo shows lunar north pole

ESA says the process of weaving together the mosaic of lunar images was tedious.

By Brooks Hays
A composite image shows the moon's pothole-filled north pole. Photo by ESA/SPACE-X
A composite image shows the moon's pothole-filled north pole. Photo by ESA/SPACE-X

PARIS, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- On Tuesday, the European Space Agency released a composite photo of the moon's north pole, sourced from archival imagery captured by the agency's SMART-1 mission between 2004 and 2006.

For two years, ESA's SMART-1 probe orbited the moon collecting thousands of images, most focusing on small portions of the moon's surface.

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The newly released image is a combination of several hundred images of the lunar north pole. These images were stitched together by computer scientists at ESA.

Because these images were taken a different times of the day over the course of SMART-1's two-year mission, the lighting in each image is slightly different. This explains some of the conflicting shadow directions and the square-like angles marking delineations between differently lit images.

ESA says weaving these hundreds of photos together in a cohesive manner -- working to meld conflicting lighting scenarios while still providing context for the pole's craters and crags -- was incredibly tedious.

"The overall effect however, was worth the labor," the agency wrote in a press release, "and the resulting image gives us a fresh perspective on our natural satellite."

After imaging much of the lunar surface, SMART-1 was purposefully smashed into the moon's surface in 2006.

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