A test of a powerful new space imaging device has given us a wonderfully detailed new view of the Apollo 15 Moon landing site.
By bouncing a powerful radar signal from the lunar surface, the new device has been able to achieve spectacular resolution, showing objects as small as 5 meters (16.4 ft).
Created by Raytheon Intelligence and Space for the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, this proof-of-concept technology paves the way for even more powerful radar imaging in the future, possibly even allowing scientists to study objects as distant as Neptune. Allows to do.
Radar imaging of the moon is not a new idea though. It is an exceptionally useful tool for revealing fine structures on the surface, and is now probing at wavelengths, even up to 10 m below the surface, to observe variations in the density of the regolith. Saka (Here on Earth, this technique can help us find buried ruins).
But Green Bank Observatory, National Radio Astronomy Observatory and Raytheon Intelligence and Space are trying to extend this technology even further.
In a test in November of last year, the new transmitter sent a radar signal to the moon, specifically targeting the Apollo 15 landing site – a small patch of the moon, 3,474.2 kilometers (2,158.8 mi) in diameter, hundreds of thousands of kilometers away. is.
This signal, when it bounces back, was collected by the Very Long Baseline Array. It is a collection of radio telescopes across America, originally combining to form a continent-shaped collection.
The image below is the result. A crater located in the top center is a crater called Hadley C, which is about 6 kilometers away. This Hadley Reale, sniffing the past, is believed to be a collapsed lava tube.
Believe it or not, however, it is not even half. Now that they have successfully proven the concept, the team will be working on an even more powerful transmitter: a 500 kW, high-power radar system that will enable them to see even more incredible detail.
This tool will be useful for all types of science. We could see our moon more closely, sure. We can see the moon of other planets. It can also be used to image passing asteroids and space debris, which are too faint to see using optical telescopes, but we can investigate using radar technology.
This can help us better understand populations of both natural and anthropogenic objects – in near-Earth space, which in turn can help protect the planets against potentially dangerous objects.
“The planned system would be a leap forward in radar science, which would not allow access to the solar system’s previously visited facilities on Earth,” said Green Bank Observatory’s site director Karen O’Neill.
And if this gives us even more incredible pictures of the moon, we are here for it.