Researchers identify 280 new craters on the Moon

Media release

Curtin University researchers have identified what could be an additional 280 craters on the Moon, using a combination of gravity and terrain modelling.

Professor Will Featherstone, Dr Christian Hirt and Associate Professor Michael Kuhn of Curtin’s Institute for Geoscience Research received Australian Research Council grants to use satellite-collected gravity and elevation data to develop an ultra-high resolution gravity map of Earth.

Curiosity taking over, the team then applied these techniques to the Moon, identifying 280 lunar craters never mapped before, 66 of those categorised as distinctly visible from both a gravity and topographic perspective.

Professor Featherstone said that identifying such a large number of lunar craters was a result of using computer modelling of the lunar gravity and topography data, where regional features were removed to reveal more detailed basins that would otherwise be obscured using other techniques.

“Our curiosity-driven work initially focused on the identification of two basins on the lunar far side, but was extended during the peer-review process of scientific papers so as to cover the whole Moon,” Professor Featherstone said.

“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.”

Professor Featherstone said the team was optimistic about further discoveries after applying their techniques to the new gravity data collected by NASA’s GRAIL mission, which ceased when the two satellites – named Ebb and Flow – were deliberately crashed on the Moon on 17 December 2012.

Beyond the Moon and Earth, the team has also developed an ultra-high resolution gravity map of Mars.

This research on the 280 new lunar craters will soon be published in the Journal of Geophysical Research – Planets.  Images are available from the contact below.