Best-illuminated locations near the lunar south pole
Robotic exploration missions provide NASA vast amounts of data to prepare for future human exploration missions and learn more about the universe.
Research Objective: The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s (LRO’s) Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) delivers elevation data which can be used to accurately simulate illumination conditions over long time periods.
Description: The image shows the average illumination of the south pole region over four lunar precession cycles (each approximately18.6 years), in percent (grayscale). Permanently shadowed regions appear in black. The locations with highest average illumination, highlighted in pink, are distributed in a few clusters. The best-illuminated point is near the Shackleton crater, indicated by the arrow (222.69°E, 89.45°S), with an average sun visibility of greater than 92% at surface level, and approximately 96% 10 meters above the surface. Every year, the sun is continuously visible for approximately 243 days, and the longest period of total darkness is less than one day.
Application: Better information about the lunar topography and the lunar illumination conditions will enable mission planners to make informed decisions about mission options and technology development.
› About the LRO mission
› Download PowerPoint file