lunar image of the month

october: the lunar south pole

This composite of some 1500 images taken by the Clementine lunar probe in 1994 is centered on the Moon's south pole. The top half of the image is the side which faces the Earth. In reality only about half of the pole could ever by illuminated at any one time.

This area of the Moon has been of great interest recently, following the discovery of ice, probably of cometary origin, which has accumulated in some of the pockets of permanent darkness around the poles.

In an unnamed crater at 87.7 S, 42.1 E (just inside the dark zone at the centre of the image), NASA's Lunar Prospector probe was recently crashed into the lunar surface in an attempt to produce a cloud of material which could be studied spectroscopically. The crater may be given the name of the late Gene Shoemaker, whose ashes travelled with the probe.

Image: Clementine Project.