280 new moon craters identified

Sydney, June 18 (IANS) Using ultra-high resolution mapping techniques, scientists from Australia have identified 280 craters on the moon that have never been mapped before.

The researchers at Curtin University in Western Australia used computer modelling of lunar gravity and topography data to explore detailed basins that would be obscured using other methods, Xinhua reported.

A total of 66 of the craters identified were described as "distinctly visible" from a gravity and topographic view.

Will Featherstone, professor at Curtin's Institute for Geoscience Research, said curiosity drove the scientists to extend their original search from the identification of two basins on the lunar far side to the entire surface of the Moon.

Such an undertaking did not come without difficulties.

"The dark side of the Moon is particularly challenging because Moon-orbiting satellites cannot be tracked from Earth when they are over the far side," Featherstone said.

The researchers fine-tuned their techniques in the initial development of an ultra-high resolution gravity map of Earth, for which they received multiple Australian Research Council grants.

The team is now planning to apply their techniques to new gravity data collected by NASA's GRAIL mission, which used high-quality gravitational field mapping to look at the Moon's interior structure and surface.

GRAIL's two satellites, Ebb and Flow, crashed on the Moon Dec 17, 2012.

The researchers have also developed an ultra-high resolution gravity map of Mars, preparing the way for landing missions, inertial navigation and high-resolution mapping of the red planet.

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