From Apollo Sites To The South Pole

  • Released Monday, July 20, 2020

The Apollo program landed six pairs of astronauts on the Moon between 1969 and 1972. All six landing sites are at low latitudes, near the equator. In this visualization, the Apollo sites are contrasted with the South Pole, an area with enormous potential for future exploration. Time passes as we zoom toward Shackleton crater at the South Pole, revealing illumination conditions quite different from those near the equator. While many craters remain in permanent shadow, some nearby mountains and ridges are in persistent sunshine, making them attractive candidates for solar power and long-term habitation.

The remaining visualizations on this page show the illumination at the lunar South Pole throughout 2024, at several different scales. The year begins in the middle of South Pole summer, with the subsolar latitude near its greatest southern extent. As the year progresses, the shadows begin to deepen until mid-year and South Pole winter, when the subsolar latitude is at its northern extreme. The full range of the Sun's apparent motion in latitude is only about 3 degrees, versus 47 degrees on Earth, but this is enough to have a substantial effect on the amount of sunlight reaching the lunar poles.

Illumination maps of the lunar South Pole. The shades of gray depict the amount of sunlight received during 2024. The floors of many of the craters receive no sunlight at all &ampmdash; they're permanently shadowed. Conversely, a small number of high spots on mountains and crater rims are in persistent sunshine. These were made by integrating (adding together) the frames of the above visualizations.

Illumination maps of the lunar South Pole. The shades of gray depict the amount of sunlight received during 2024. The floors of many of the craters receive no sunlight at all — they're permanently shadowed. Conversely, a small number of high spots on mountains and crater rims are in persistent sunshine. These were made by integrating (adding together) the frames of the above visualizations.



Credits

Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

Release date

This page was originally published on Monday, July 20, 2020.
This page was last updated on Monday, July 15, 2024 at 12:07 AM EDT.


Datasets used in this visualization

  • DEM (Digital Elevation Map) [LRO: LOLA]

    ID: 653
    Sensor: LOLA
  • LROC WAC Color Mosaic (Natural Color Hapke Normalized WAC Mosaic) [Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter: LRO Camera]

    ID: 1015
    Type: MosaicSensor: LRO Camera

    This natural-color global mosaic is based on the 'Hapke normalized' mosaic from LRO's wide-angle camera. The data has been gamma corrected, white balanced, and range adjusted to more closely match human vision.

    See all pages that use this dataset

Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details, nor the data sets themselves on our site.