Telescope on Moon’s South Pole Will Give Unprecedented Views of our Galaxy

Telescope on Moon’s South Pole Will Give Unprecedented Views of our Galaxy

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Two private companies have announced plans to launch the first-ever journey to the moon’s South Pole where they plan to place a telescope in order to view our galaxy with unprecedented clarity. The telescope would be placed on top of a lunar peak where it would have a clear view of the Milky Way, unobstructed by the interference of our atmosphere, pollution and electromagnetic noise.

Astronomers have long proposed the idea of placing a telescope on the far side of the moon which faces away from our planet as this would be the prime position for capturing images far beyond what could be captured on Earth. However, those plans have been stifled by cost as such a telescope would need to be controlled by satellite rays.

However, the organisations behind the plan, which include the International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA), a non-profit aiming to build a scientific and commercial base on the moon, and startup company, Moon Express, have stated that placing a telescope at the South Pole is much more achievable as it has “a direct line of access to Earth”. It also has fairly stable temperatures and conditions, unlike other parts of the Moon. ILOA hopes to be able to launch the telescope as early as 2016, though Moon Express believes 2018 is more realistic.

But the ILOA and Moon Express have big plans and are not content to settle with just a telescope. They also believe the lunar poles hold possibility for eventual human settlement and the two organisations plan to do exploration at the lunar pole to extract minerals, metals and water, and to investigate the surrounding area with the hope that such valuable information could lead to future plans for a lunar base.

    • The first mission to the moon's south pole is being planned by the International Lunar Observatory Association and Moon Express
    • They plan on installing a radio antenna and optical telescope on the rim of the Malapert crater to get clearer pictures of the Milky Way
    • The mission is planned for 2016 and the companies believe the location could also be an ideal place for humans to settle on the moon

    Published: 11:43 BST, 19 July 2013 | Updated: 11:48 BST, 19 July 2013

    The first mission to the moon's south pole is being planned by two private companies that want to plant telescopes on top of a lunar mountain as early as 2016.

    The I nt ernational Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA) and a start-up called Moon Express have chosen the tricky location as they believe the telescopes will get a clear view of our galaxy.

    They plan on installing a two-metre radio antenna, plus a smaller optical telescope on the elevated rim of the Malapert crater.

    The first mission to the Moon's south pole is being planned by International Lunar Observatory Association and Moon Express. They want to plant telescopes on top of a lunar mountain (pictured) in as early as 2016 and believe the telescopes will get a clear view of our galaxy

    According to Wired , t he ILOA has set its sights on building a scientific and commercial base on the moon, while Moon Express wants to become a space courier service in the next 10 years.

    The companies have now joined forces with the intention of setting up two telescopes on the Moon's south pole as the instruments will not suffer our atmosphere's hazy interference.

    The location also has the observational benefit of not picking up any radio or electromagnetic noise created by modern technology.

    The idea to place a telescope on the moon is not new.

    Dark Energy at the South Pole

    If dark energy is pushing the universe apart at an accelerating clip, when did its effects begin to be felt? One way to study that question is through the Cosmic Microwave Background, whose infinitesimal variations in density and temperature give us an idea of what was happening a scant 400,000 years after the Big Bang. We should be able to find information in the CMB about how dark energy affected the formation of galaxy clusters by comparing CMB evidence against what we see in these clusters today.

    And that makes ‘first light’ at the National Science Foundation’s South Pole Telescope a noteworthy event. The 75-ft tall telescope has been under assembly and testing since November, and its February 16 test run was a success. Now the pole’s cold, dry air will allow long-term Earth-based study of the CMB with little interference from water vapor. The Sunyaev-Zeldovich effect, which distorts CMB radiation as it encounters the gases in intervening galaxy clusters, will help scientists image the gases in these clusters.

    Image: Backlit South Pole Telescope in profile, with sun dog (arc and rainbow), caused by ice crystals. Credit: Jeff McMahon.

    The potential data windfall from galaxy clusters is immense with this instrument. Says John Carlstrom (University of Chicago), who headed the team that tested the telescope:

    “To get a meaningful constraint on dark energy through measuring galaxy clusters, you need something like this South Pole Telescope. The cluster SZ [Sunyaev-Zeldovich] signals cover small patches in the sky relative to the intrinsic variations in the cosmic microwave background. To get the necessary resolution, you need a big telescope. Now we have one.”

    At an altitude of 3000 meters on the Antarctic ice sheet, the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station must be the nearest thing to a space-based telescope on Earth. The first major project for the instrument is a survey that is expected to reveal thousands of galaxy clusters, helping us to refine our knowledge of dark energy’s effects over time. More information is available at the South Pole Telescope homepage.

    Comments on this entry are closed.

    Is there a higher-rez version of the above photo with the sun dog? I tried the telescope’s website, but didn’t find any pictures like that.

    I imagine a higher-res version will eventually show up on the SPT site — check tomorrow, perhaps, as it’s bound to wind up there pretty quickly. For the moment, the one posted is as good as I can find. I’ll pass along any info if I find another one for you.

    I just wanted to ask a question about the so called Dark energy 0 if anyone know the answer.

    Current science tells us that the Universe’s rate of acceleration has recently increased, and current thinking says this is to do with the Dark Energy acting as a repulsive force.

    Do we know how we know that the repulsive force is accelerated?

    Rather we do not know how it is accelerated if that is the question. We do know about the acceleration because as we look at Type Ia supernovas that are further and further away we look back in time and we see these standard candles as being less bright than they ‘should’ be indicating that the universe is growing bigger at an accelerating rate.

    New telescope will let you view Earth from the Moon by 2015

    With our hundreds of telescopes and observatories, both here on Earth and floating in space, we have an amazing view of the universe around us, but starting in 2015, we're going to be able to look where no telescope has showed us before — our own planet.

    The International Lunar Observatory precursor (ILO-X) will be the first private telescope launched to the Moon, featuring an internet-access control system that will let anyone on Earth use it via their web browser, and, as suggested by the name, this telescope is just the precursor to a permanent telescope to be set at the Moon's south pole sometime after.

    The telescope was commissioned by the International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA), and was designed and built by the private corporation Moon Express Inc. Representatives of both were on hand during the announcement of the project at the ILOA Galaxy Forum Canada 2013, in Vancouver on Saturday.

    "The primary goal of the International Lunar Observatory is to expand human understanding of the Galaxy and Cosmos through observation from our Moon," said Steve Durst, the founder and director of the ILOA, in a press release. "We are extremely excited about sending the ILO-X to the Moon as soon as possible, and continuing our progress toward a permanent human presence on the Moon."

    Moon Express is the company behind the Google Lunar X Prize Competition, which is pitting privately-funded teams against each other in a race to see who can be the first to land a robot rover on the surface of the Moon. The prizes for the winning team will total $30 million, but Moon Express hopes that the payoff for humanity will be much larger. It's their goal to develop new, privately-funded missions to the Moon, not only to develop the Moon for our benefit here on Earth, but also to establish a permanent presence on our natural satellite.

    The way the IOLA and Moon Express are going about this is perfect, too. Private industry will be able to drive space exploration far faster than public organizations, especially when it's done by companies that are dedicated to the goal, rather than governments whose resource are usually pulled in numerous different and competing directions. It's the involvement of the public that will get them even further, though.

    We all saw Chris Hadfield's adventures on the International Space Station, as we checked out his Twitter feed for new photographs, and the Canadian Space Agency's YouTube channel for his latest videos. Having those views from orbit, and details about living in space, really got people's attention and caused renewed interest in the space program. By putting a telescope on the Moon, the public will be able to get a sneak-peak at the spectacular view they'd be afforded if they lived there or at least visited, generating a wave of interest for future lunar missions. Also, as an added bonus, having that awe-inspiring view may actually help us to save planet too.

    (Photos courtesy: NASA, The Canadian Press/HO-Moon Express)

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    “A Secret Agenda?” –China First to Explore Moon’s South Pole Frontier and Establish a Robotic Research Station

    “As only the Moon’s South Pole can receive sunlight in most of its area throughout the year, we want to land at such a place where there might be abundant sunshine and possibly water to build a robotic research station to carry out relevant research using resources there,” said Wu Weiren, chief designer involved in China’s Chang’e lunar exploration program. “Nobody has ever landed there yet. So it will be the first landing if we make it. But there are some other countries that are preparing for that.”

    In what will be a first for humanity, China is aiming to land at the Moon’s South Pole in order to establish a research station and investigate potential resources, a senior official with China’s lunar exploration program has said. The far side’s terrain is rugged, with a multitude of impact craters and relatively few flat lunar maria, including one of the largest craters in the Solar System, the South Pole–Aitken basin. With the first images appearing in 1959, it has never been explored.

    Earlier reports from the Xinhua news agency hinted that China may be considering the construction of a pioneering radio telescope on the moons virgin far side, which will give it an unobstructed window on the cosmos that was confirmed June, 2016 when an agreement was announced between the Netherlands and China, that a Dutch-built radio antenna will travel to the Moon aboard the Chinese Chang’e 4 satellite and usher in a new era of radio astronomy allowing for the study of objects that might otherwise be invisible or hidden in other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum.

    “Radio astronomers study the universe using radio waves, light coming from stars and planets, for example, which is not visible with the naked eye,” commented Heino Falke – a professor of Astroparticle Physics and Radio Astronomy at Radboud University. “We can receive almost all celestial radio wave frequencies here on Earth. We cannot detect radio waves below 30 MHz, however, as these are blocked by our atmosphere. It is these frequencies in particular that contain information about the early universe, which is why we want to measure them.”

    The Chang’e-4 probe — named for the goddess of the moon in Chinese mythology — will be launched to the moon in 2018, the official Xinhua news agency reported. “The Chang’e-4’s lander and rover will make a soft landing on the back side of the moon, and will carry out in-place and patrolling surveys,” according to the country’s lunar exploration chief Liu Jizhong.

    Beijing views its military-run, multi-billion-dollar space program as a marker of its rising global stature and mounting technical expertise, as well as evidence of the ruling Communist Party’s success in transforming the once poverty-stricken nation. “The implementation of the Chang’e-4 mission has helped our country make the leap from following to leading in the field of lunar exploration,” Liu added.

    In 2013, China landed a rover dubbed Yutu on the moon and the following year an unmanned probe completed its first return mission to the earth’s only natural satellite. Beijing has plans for a permanent orbiting station by 2020 and eventually to send a human to the moon.

    Space flight is “an important manifestation of overall national strength”, Xinhua cited science official Qian Yan as saying, adding that every success had “greatly stimulated the public’s… pride in the achievements of the motherland’s development.”

    Clive Neal, chair of the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group affiliated with NASA, confirmed that the Chang’e-4 mission was unprecedented. “There has been no surface exploration of the far side,” he told AFP. It is “very different to the near side because of the biggest hole in the solar system — the South Pole-Aitken basin, shown above, which may have exposed mantle materials — and the thicker lunar crust”.

    The basin is the largest known impact crater in the solar system, nearly 2,500 kilometers wide and 13 kilometers deep. Meanwhile, a ‘research station’ on the ‘peaks of eternal light’ at the Lunar South Pole would prevent anyone else from approaching.

    A Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics senior astrophysicist, Martin Elvis, has sounded the alarm of how an unfriendly power – the Chinese for example – could seize control of an important piece of lunar real estate. They could do it legally by exploiting provisions of the Outer Space Treaty, that bars any nation — and by extension, corporation — from owning property on a celestial body, but a loophole in the pact may amount to the same thing, warns Elvis.

    The real estate in question are the so-called “peaks of eternal light” around the permanently shadowed craters at the Lunar South Pole. Unlike the Earth, which is tilted so the poles are in six months of darkness and six months of light, the moon is almost perfectly aligned with its orbit around the sun. Because of the way the moon tilts, these peaks are bathed in sunlight for most if not all of the time, which means you can have an almost continuous power supply, ideal for a photovoltaic power station.

    Thus this part of the moon would be perfect places to erect solar power stations that would support mining operations in the nearby craters, where water and other valuable resources such as Helium 3 have been deposited over billions of years.

    Elvis said that provisions in the treaty allow nations to exploit resources, including through establishing research stations, and bar others from disrupting such endeavors. In some cases, this could amount to de facto ownership, Elvis said. As China and Japan plan moon landings, and corporate leaders eye their own space ventures, the loophole has gained in importance.

    During the 40th Anniversary Commemoration Event for Apollo 17, moonwalker and NASA retired astronaut and geologist Harrison Schmitt said “one of the most significant contributions of the Apollo Missions was confirming the presence of Helium-3 on the moon.”

    Helium-3 (He-3) is a light, non-radioactive isotope of helium with two protons and one neutron. Its presence is rare on Earth, it is sought after for use in nuclear fusion research, and it is abundant in the moon’s soil by at least 13 parts per billion (ppb) by weight.

    In 2007, shortly after Russia claimed a vast portion of the Arctic sea floor, accelerating an international race for the natural resources as global warming opens polar access, China announced plans to map “every inch” of the surface of the Moon and exploit the vast quantities of Helium-3 thought to lie buried in lunar rocks as part of its ambitious space-exploration program.

    Ouyang Ziyuan, head of the first phase of lunar exploration, was quoted on government-sanctioned news site describing plans to collect three dimensional images of the Moon for future mining of Helium 3: “There are altogether 15 tons of helium-3 on Earth, while on the Moon, the total amount of Helium-3 can reach one to five million tons.”

    “Helium-3 is considered as a long-term, stable, safe, clean and cheap material for human beings to get nuclear energy through controllable nuclear fusion experiments,” Ziyuan added. “If we human beings can finally use such energy material to generate electricity, then China might need 10 tons of helium-3 every year and in the world, about 100 tons of helium-3 will be needed every year.”

    Helium 3 fusion energy – classic Buck Rogers propulsion system- may be the key to future space exploration and settlement, requiring less radioactive shielding, lightening the load.

    Scientists estimate there are about one million tons of helium 3 on the moon, enough to power the world for thousands of years. The equivalent of a single space shuttle load or roughly 25 tons could supply the entire United States’ energy needs for a year.

    Thermonuclear reactors capable of processing Helium-3 would have to be built, along with major transport system to get various equipment to the Moon to process huge amounts of lunar soil and get the minerals back to Earth. The harvesting of Helium-3 on the could start by 2025.

    UN Treaties in place state that the moon and its minerals are the common heritage of mankind, so the quest to use Helium-3 as an energy source would likely demand joint international co-operation. Hopefully, exploitation of the moon’s resources will be viewed as a solution for the world, rather than an out-moded nation-state solution.

    Planetary scientist Paul Spudis is one of many that notes that China’s space activities are entwined with its military, despite a growing focus on space science, scientific discovery and deep space exploration. Spudis has warned that China’s lunar ambitions are veiled attempts to gain ‘cislunar space control’, and advocates for the United States to renew its interest in the Moon.

    Under the Trump administration and a newly-formed National Space Council, the United States has since stated its intention to return humans to the Moon, marking a shift from the Obama era roadmap for a ‘Journey to Mars’.

    The Daily Galaxy via NASA, GHB Times, Beijing (AFP) and Xinhua News Agency, and the The Harvard Gazette.

    Image credit: Peaks of Eternal Light with thanks to Monamour Natural Design

    Telescope on Moon’s South Pole Will Give Unprecedented Views of our Galaxy - History

    The advantage of using a telescope in space is that you don't have to look through the Earth's atmosphere. For very detailed observations the atmosphere is pretty murky and horrible so it's a real advantage to get above that. You've probably seen HST pictures, and they really are much more detailed than you can get from the ground.

    The disadvantages are mainly to do with the hassle of operating in space. It's much more expensive, so you can't have such a large telescope. If things go wrong it's much harder to repair them. You can't update the instruments so often so they quickly become out of date. Also with the modern technique of Adaptive Optics (basically correcting for the turbulence of the atmosphere as you observe), ground based telescopes are catching up with the HST.

    By the way, the above is for optical telescopes which I assume is what you mean. For other wavelenghts there is no choice as our atmosphere can block them completely (eg. Far infra-red and X-rays and Gamma-rays). Telescopes for these have to be in space. For most radio wavelengths the atmosphere is very little problem, so instruments like Arecibo and the VLA are not limited by the atmosphere at all.

    This page was last updated July 18, 2015.

    About the Author

    Karen Masters

    Karen was a graduate student at Cornell from 2000-2005. She went on to work as a researcher in galaxy redshift surveys at Harvard University, and is now on the Faculty at the University of Portsmouth back in her home country of the UK. Her research lately has focused on using the morphology of galaxies to give clues to their formation and evolution. She is the Project Scientist for the Galaxy Zoo project.

    9.1 General Properties of the Moon

    The Moon has only one-eightieth the mass of Earth and about one-sixth Earth’s surface gravity—too low to retain an atmosphere (Figure 9.2). Moving molecules of a gas can escape from a planet just the way a rocket does, and the lower the gravity, the easier it is for the gas to leak away into space. While the Moon can acquire a temporary atmosphere from impacting comets, this atmosphere is quickly lost by freezing onto the surface or by escape to surrounding space. The Moon today is dramatically deficient in a wide range of volatiles, those elements and compounds that evaporate at relatively low temperatures. Some of the Moon’s properties are summarized in Table 9.1, along with comparative values for Mercury .

    Property Moon Mercury
    Mass (Earth = 1) 0.0123 0.055
    Diameter (km) 3476 4878
    Density (g/cm 3 ) 3.3 5.4
    Surface gravity (Earth = 1) 0.17 0.38
    Escape velocity (km/s) 2.4 4.3
    Rotation period (days) 27.3 58.65
    Surface area (Earth = 1) 0.27 0.38

    Exploration of the Moon

    Most of what we know about the Moon today derives from the US Apollo program , which sent nine piloted spacecraft to our satellite between 1968 and 1972, landing 12 astronauts on its surface (Figure 9.1). Before the era of spacecraft studies, astronomers had mapped the side of the Moon that faces Earth with telescopic resolution of about 1 kilometer, but lunar geology hardly existed as a scientific subject. All that changed beginning in the early 1960s. Initially, Russia took the lead in lunar exploration with Luna 3, which returned the first photos of the lunar far side in 1959, and then with Luna 9, which landed on the surface in 1966 and transmitted pictures and other data to Earth. However, these efforts were overshadowed on July 20, 1969, when the first American astronaut set foot on the Moon.

    Table 9.2 summarizes the nine Apollo flights: six that landed and three others that circled the Moon but did not land. The initial landings were on flat plains selected for safety reasons. But with increasing experience and confidence, NASA targeted the last three missions to more geologically interesting locales. The level of scientific exploration also increased with each mission, as the astronauts spent longer times on the Moon and carried more elaborate equipment. Finally, on the last Apollo landing, NASA included one scientist, geologist Jack Schmitt, among the astronauts (Figure 9.3).

    Flight Date Landing Site Main Accomplishment
    Apollo 8 Dec. 1968 First humans to fly around the Moon
    Apollo 10 May 1969 First spacecraft rendezvous in lunar orbit
    Apollo 11 July 1969 Mare Tranquillitatis First human landing on the Moon 22 kilograms of samples returned
    Apollo 12 Nov. 1969 Oceanus Procellarum First Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Package (ALSEP) visit to Surveyor 3 lander
    Apollo 13 Apr. 1970 Landing aborted due to explosion in service module
    Apollo 14 Jan. 1971 Mare Nubium First “rickshaw” on the Moon
    Apollo 15 July 1971 Mare Imbrium/Hadley First “rover” visit to Hadley Rille astronauts traveled 24 kilometers
    Apollo 16 Apr. 1972 Descartes First landing in highlands 95 kilograms of samples returned
    Apollo 17 Dec. 1972 Taurus-Littrow highlands Geologist among the crew 111 kilograms of samples returned

    In addition to landing on the lunar surface and studying it at close range, the Apollo missions accomplished three objectives of major importance for lunar science. First, the astronauts collected nearly 400 kilograms of samples for detailed laboratory analysis on Earth (Figure 9.4). These samples have revealed as much about the Moon and its history as all other lunar studies combined. Second, each Apollo landing after the first one deployed an Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Package (ALSEP), which continued to operate for years after the astronauts departed. Third, the orbiting Apollo command modules carried a wide range of instruments to photograph and analyze the lunar surface from above.

    The last human left the Moon in December 1972, just a little more than three years after Neil Armstrong took his “giant leap for mankind.” The program of lunar exploration was cut off midstride due to political and economic pressures. It had cost just about $100 per American, spread over 10 years—the equivalent of one large pizza per person per year. Yet for many people, the Moon landings were one of the central events in twentieth-century history.

    The giant Apollo rockets built to travel to the Moon were left to rust on the lawns of NASA centers in Florida, Texas, and Alabama, although recently, some have at least been moved indoors to museums (Figure 9.5). Today, neither NASA nor Russia have plans to send astronauts to the Moon, and China appears to be the nation most likely to attempt this feat. (In a bizarre piece of irony, a few people even question whether we went to the Moon at all, proposing instead that the Apollo program was a fake, filmed on a Hollywood sound stage. See the Link to Learning box below for some scientists’ replies to such claims.) However, scientific interest in the Moon is stronger than ever, and more than half a dozen scientific spacecraft—sent from NASA, ESA, Japan, India, and China—have orbited or landed on our nearest neighbor during the past two decades. China has been especially active, with a landing on the far side and a sample return, and they have expressed interest in eventually sending Chinese Taikonauts to the Moon.

    Link to Learning

    Read The Great Moon Hoax about the claim that NASA never succeeded in putting people on the Moon.

    Lunar exploration has become an international enterprise with many robotic spacecraft focusing on lunar science. The USSR sent a number in the 1960s, including robot sample returns, and recently China has been active, with three landers and a sample return mission. Table 9.3 lists some of the most recent lunar missions .

    Launch Year Spacecraft Type of Mission Agency
    1994 Clementine Orbiter US (USAF/NASA)
    1998 Lunar Prospector Orbiter US (NASA)
    2003 SMART-1 Orbiter Europe (ESA)
    2007 SELENE 1 Orbiter Japan (JAXA)
    2007 Chang’e 1 Orbiter China (CNSA)
    2008 Chandrayaan-1 Orbiter India (ISRO)
    2009 LRO Orbiter US (NASA)
    2009 LCROSS Impactor US (NASA)
    2010 Chang’e 2 Orbiter China (CNSA)
    2011 GRAIL Twin orbiters US (NASA)
    2013 LADEE Orbiter US (NASA)
    2013 Chang’e 3 Lander/Rover China (CNSA)
    2018 Chang’e 4 Lander/Rover on Farside China (CNSA)
    2019 Chang-e 4 Lander/Rover (far side) China(CNSA)
    2020 Chang-e 5 Lander/Sample Return China(CNSA)

    Composition and Structure of the Moon

    The composition of the Moon is not the same as that of Earth. With an average density of only 3.3 g/cm 3 , the Moon must be made almost entirely of silicate rock. Compared to Earth, it is depleted in iron and other metals. It is as if the Moon were composed of the same silicates as Earth’s mantle and crust, with the metals and the volatiles selectively removed. These differences in composition between Earth and Moon provide important clues about the origin of the Moon, a topic we will cover in detail later in this chapter.

    Studies of the Moon’s interior carried out with seismometers taken to the Moon as part of the Apollo program confirm the absence of a large metal core. The twin GRAIL spacecraft launched into lunar orbit in 2011 provided even more precise tracking of the interior structure. We also know from the study of lunar samples that water and other volatiles have been depleted from the lunar crust. The tiny amounts of water detected in these samples were originally attributed to small leaks in the container seal that admitted water vapor from Earth’s atmosphere. However, scientists have now concluded that some chemically bound water is present in the lunar rocks.

    Most dramatically, water ice has been detected in permanently shadowed craters near the lunar poles. In 2009, NASA crashed a small spacecraft called the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) into the crater Cabeus near the Moon’s south pole. The impact at 9,000 kilometers per hour released energy equivalent to 2 tons of dynamite, blasting a plume of water vapor and other chemicals high above the surface. This plume was visible to telescopes in orbit around the Moon, and the LCROSS spacecraft itself made measurements as it flew through the plume. A NASA spacecraft called the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) also measured the very low temperatures inside several lunar craters, and its sensitive cameras were even able to image crater interiors by starlight.

    The total quantity of water ice in the Moon’s polar craters is estimated to be hundreds of billions of tons. As liquid, this would only be enough water to fill a lake 100 miles across, but compared with the rest of the dry lunar crust, so much water is remarkable. Presumably, this polar water was carried to the Moon by comets and asteroids that hit its surface. Some small fraction of the water froze in a few extremely cold regions (cold traps) where the Sun never shines, such as the bottom of deep craters at the Moon’s poles. One reason this discovery could be important is that it raises the possibility of future human habitation near the lunar poles, or even of a lunar base as a way-station on routes to Mars and the rest of the solar system. If the ice could be mined, it would yield both water and oxygen for human support, and it could be broken down into hydrogen and oxygen, a potent rocket fuel.

    Telescope on Moon’s South Pole Will Give Unprecedented Views of our Galaxy - History

    "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."

    With those eight words, astronaut Neil Armstrong let the world know that Apollo 11 had landed safely on the moon, beginning humankind's first exploration of another world. The landing certainly kept the mission operations crew in suspense as Armstrong maneuvered around the bouldery ejecta on the northeast flank of West Crater, finally settling down almost a kilometer to the west with only tens of seconds of fuel remaining.

    The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera team earlier released two pictures of the Apollo 11 landing site, each taken under different lighting conditions and at lower resolution than this image. This is LROC's first picture of Apollo 11 after LRO dropped into its 50 km mapping orbit. At this altitude, very small details of Tranquility Base can be discerned. The footpads of the LM are clearly discernible. Components of the Early Apollo Science Experiments Package (EASEP) are easily seen, as well. Boulders from West Crater lying on the surface to the east stand out, and the many small craters that cover the moon are visible to the southeast.

    The public can follow along with NASA on its journey of lunar discovery. On March 15, the publicly accessible Planetary Data System will release data sets from the seven instruments on board NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

    “The Planetary Data System is a NASA funded program to archive data from past and present planetary missions as well as astronomical observations and laboratory data,” said Dr. John Keller, LRO Deputy Project Scientist from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “The purpose of the Planetary Data System is to make available to the public the fruits of NASA funded research and to allow advanced research on solar system science.”

    Each of the seven instruments is unique and will provide data in different formats to the Planetary Data System. Much of the data will be in a relatively low level form, not highly processed, which allows researchers to maximize flexibility in working with the data. The instrument teams will also provide higher level data products in the form of maps and calibrated images for the general public. Many of the images can be accessed using a computer with an internet browser.

    Prior to the formal release of LRO data, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera team released several hundred images from the pair of Narrow Angle Cameras on-board the spacecraft. These images were released to give researchers a head start on using the data before the tidal wave of data was unleashed.

    “We're able to take advantage of the close proximity of the Moon, compared to other objects in the solar system, to transmit data from LRO back to Earth at a very high rate,” said Keller. “The first data release is 55 terabytes. The one year exploration mission will deliver 130 terabytes of data, enabling a more detailed study our nearest celestial neighbor. We expect LRO to provide more data than all of the previous planetary missions combined.”

    LRO was mandated to release data to the Planetary Data System beginning six months after initial operation. Some of the higher level data products require the full year of measurements and won't be released until after the end of the exploration mission. LRO will move into its science phase in September, when the program management responsibility moves from the Exploration Systems to the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters.

    LRO is scheduled for a one year exploration mission in a polar orbit about 31 miles above the lunar surface. During this time, LRO will produce a comprehensive map of the lunar surface in unprecedented detail, search for resources and potential safe landing sites for a potential future return to the moon and measure lunar temperatures and radiation levels.

    Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

    Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

    Bang! On April 14th 1970, the Apollo 13 Saturn IVB upper stage impacted the Moon North of Mare Cognitum, at -2.55° latitude, -27.88° East longitude. The impact crater, which is roughly 30 meters in diameter, is clearly visible in LROC NAC image M109420042LE.

    Rocket impacts recorded by the Apollo seismic network

    In April, the Apollo 13 Saturn V blasted off towards the Moon. The Saturn rocket consisted of a 3-stage launching system. While the first and second stage of the launch vehicle dropped back to Earth after launch, the third stage (S-IVB) was used to propel the docked Apollo Command Module and Lunar Module from Earth orbit into a lunar trajectory. The spent rocket booster then separated from the Command Module and later impacted the Moon. From the tracking of the radio signals of the rocket, the impact locations on the Moon and the impact times were fairly well known.

    Credit: Popular Science

    The impacts by the S-IVB stages represented unique calibration signals for the Apollo seismic station network, which operated on the lunar surface from 1969 - 1977. Since the rocket impacts occurred at known times and places, the seismic wave velocities, in particular those within the upper lunar crust could be measured directly.

    At the time of the Apollo 13 mission, only the seismometer at Apollo 12 was available, which had been deployed 5 months earlier. The S-IVB impact occurred at a distance of 135 km from that seismic station.

    Analysis by the LROC team now have identified the craters associated with most of the rocket impacts in their predicted areas. Taking advantage of the precise LRO orbit and LROC pointing knowledge, it is now possible to determine the impact coordinates of rockets and their distances from the seismic stations more accurately to within a few hundred meters, over time as the orbit calculations are improved these estimates will in turn become more accurate. The precise impact coordinates may warrant a reanalysis of the seismic calibration data for improved models of seismic wave propagation within the Moon and the Lunar interior structure. The seismograph network recorded more than 13,000 seismic events and delivered some of the most important scientific results of the Apollo missions.

    Find the Apollo 13 S-IVB impact crater in the full NAC image. Review an earlier LROC image posting of the Apollo 14 S-IVB impact crater.

    According to the Saturn V Launch Vehicle Flight Evaluation Report: AS-508 Apollo 13 Mission , the impact velocity was 2579 m/s (8461 ft/s), which works out to about 5769 mph.

    It's been nearly 40 years seen Apollo astronaut Eugene Cernan became the last man to walk on the lunar surface, but at you can take your own journey over lunar surface.

    The site is powered by the efforts of visitors to Moon Zoo - the latest project from the team that brought you Galaxy Zoo and Solar Stormwatch. Using the site, you'll see images from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter which show the lunar surface in unprecedented detail, and with a few clicks you can record what you find while exploring.

    Tidal forces between the moon and the Earth have slowed the moon' rotation so that one side of the moon always faces toward our planet. Though sometimes improperly referred to as the "dark side of the moon," it should correctly be referred to as the "far side of the moon" since it receives just as much sunlight as the side that faces us. The dark side of the moon should refer to whatever hemisphere isn't lit at a given time.

    Though several spacecraft have imaged the far side of the moon since then, LRO is providing new details about the entire half of the moon that is obscured from Earth. The lunar far side is rougher and has many more craters than the near side, so quite a few of the most fascinating lunar features are located there, including one of the largest known impact craters in the solar system, the South Pole-Aitken Basin.

    The image highlighted here shows the moon's topography from LRO's LOLA instruments with the highest elevations up above 20,000 feet in red and the lowest areas down below -20,000 feet in blue.

    NASA Science News: Newly-discovered pits on the Moon could be entrances to a geologic wonderland of underground caves and tunnels.

    NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is beaming back images of caverns hundreds of feet deep -- beckoning scientists to follow.

    "They could be entrances to a geologic wonderland," says Mark Robinson of Arizona State University, principal investigator for the LRO camera. "We believe the giant holes are skylights that formed when the ceilings of underground lava tubes collapsed."

    Japan's Kaguya spacecraft first photographed the enormous caverns last year. Now the powerful Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC, the same camera that photographed Apollo landers and astronauts' tracks in the moondust) is giving us enticing high-resolution images of the caverns' entrances and their surroundings.

    Back in the 1960s, before humans set foot on the Moon, researchers proposed the existence of a network of tunnels, relics of molten lava rivers, beneath the lunar surface. They based their theory on early orbital photographs that revealed hundreds of long, narrow channels called rilles winding across the vast lunar plains, or maria. Scientists believed these rilles to be surface evidence of below-ground tunnels through which lava flowed billions of years ago.

    "It's exciting that we've now confirmed this idea," says Robinson. "The Kaguya and LROC photos prove that these caverns are skylights to lava tubes, so we know such tunnels can exist intact at least in small segments after several billion years. "

    Newly discovered cliffs in the lunar crust indicate the moon shrank globally in the geologically recent past and might still be shrinking today, according to a team analyzing new images from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft. The results provide important clues to the moon's recent geologic and tectonic evolution.

    The moon formed in a chaotic environment of intense bombardment by asteroids and meteors. These collisions, along with the decay of radioactive elements, made the moon hot. The moon cooled off as it aged, and scientists have long thought the moon shrank over time as it cooled, especially in its early history. The new research reveals relatively recent tectonic activity connected to the long-lived cooling and associated contraction of the lunar interior.

    "We estimate these cliffs, called lobate scarps, formed less than a billion years ago, and they could be as young as a hundred million years," said Dr. Thomas Watters of the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, Washington. While ancient in human terms, it is less than 25 percent of the moon's current age of more than four billion years. "Based on the size of the scarps, we estimate the distance between the moon's center and its surface shrank by about 300 feet," said Watters, lead author of a paper on this research appearing in Science August 20.

    "These exciting results highlight the importance of global observations for understanding global processes," said Dr. John Keller, Deputy Project Scientist for LRO at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. "As the LRO mission continues in to a new phase, with emphasis on science measurements, our ability to create inventories of lunar geologic features will be a powerful tool for understanding the history of the moon and the solar system."

    The scarps are relatively small the largest is about 300 feet high and extends for several miles or so, but typical lengths are shorter and heights are more in the tens of yards (meters) range. The team believes they are among the freshest features on the moon, in part because they cut across small craters. Since the moon is constantly bombarded by meteors, features like small craters (those less than about 1,200 feet across) are likely to be young because they are quickly destroyed by other impacts and don’t last long. So, if a small crater has been disrupted by a scarp, the scarp formed after the crater and is even younger. Even more compelling evidence is that large craters, which are likely to be old, don't appear on top any of the scarps, and the scarps look crisp and relatively undegraded.

    Lobate scarps on the moon were discovered during the Apollo missions with analysis of pictures from the high-resolution Panoramic Camera installed on Apollo 15, 16, and 17. However, these missions orbited over regions near the lunar equator, and were only able to photograph some 20 percent of the lunar surface, so researchers couldn't be sure the scarps were not just the result of local activity around the equator. The team found 14 previously undetected scarps in the LRO images, seven of which are at high latitudes (more than 60 degrees). This confirms that the scarps are a global phenomenon, making a shrinking moon the most likely explanation for their wide distribution, according to the team.

    As the moon contracted, the mantle and surface crust were forced to respond, forming thrust faults where a section of the crust cracks and juts out over another. Many of the resulting cliffs, or scarps, have a semi-circular or lobe-shaped appearance, giving rise to the term "lobate scarps". Scientists aren't sure why they look this way perhaps it's the way the lunar soil (regolith) expresses thrust faults, according to Watters.

    Lobate scarps are found on other worlds in our solar system, including Mercury, where they are much larger. "Lobate scarps on Mercury can be over a mile high and run for hundreds of miles," said Watters. Massive scarps like these lead scientists to believe that Mercury was completely molten as it formed. If so, Mercury would be expected to shrink more as it cooled, and thus form larger scarps, than a world that may have been only partially molten with a relatively small core. Our moon has more than a third of the volume of Mercury, but since the moon's scarps are typically much smaller, the team believes the moon shrank less.

    Because the scarps are so young, the moon could have been cooling and shrinking very recently, according to the team. Seismometers emplaced by the Apollo missions have recorded moonquakes. While most can be attributed to things like meteorite strikes, the Earth's gravitational tides, and day/night temperature changes, it's remotely possible that some moonquakes might be associated with ongoing scarp formation, according to Watters. The team plans to compare photographs of scarps by the Apollo Panoramic Cameras to new images from LRO to see if any have changed over the decades, possibly indicating recent activity.

    While Earth's tides are most likely not strong enough to create the scarps, they could contribute to their appearance, perhaps influencing their orientation, according to Watters. During the next few years, the team hopes to use LRO's high-resolution Narrow Angle Cameras (NACs) to build up a global, highly detailed map of the moon. This could identify additional scarps and allow the team to see if some have a preferred orientation or other features that might be associated with Earth's gravitational pull.

    "The ultrahigh resolution images from the NACs are changing our view of the moon," said Dr. Mark Robinson of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz., a coauthor and Principal Investigator of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera. "We've not only detected many previously unknown lunar scarps we're also seeing much greater detail on the scarps identified in the Apollo photographs."

    The research was funded by NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, Washington. The team includes researchers from the Smithsonian, Arizona State, the SETI Institute, Mountain View, Calif., NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., Institut für Planetologie, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster, Germany, Brown University, Providence, R.I., and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.

    NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, completed the exploration phase of its mission on Sept. 16, after a number of successes that transformed our understanding of Earth's nearest neighbor.

    LRO completed a one-year exploration mission in a polar orbit approximately 31 miles above the moon's surface. It produced a comprehensive map of the lunar surface in unprecedented detail searched for resources and safe landing sites for potential future missions to the moon and measured lunar temperatures and radiation levels.

    The mission is turning its attention from exploration objectives to scientific research, as program management moves from NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate to the Science Mission Directorate at the agency's Headquarters in Washington.

    "LRO has been an outstanding success. The spacecraft has performed brilliantly," said Doug Cooke, associate administrator of the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. "LRO's science and engineering teams achieved all of the mission's objectives, and the incredible data LRO gathered will provide discoveries about the moon for years to come."

    The LRO team will continue to send data gathered during the last year to the Planetary Data System, which archives and distributes scientific information from NASA planetary missions, astronomical observations and laboratory measurements.

    By the time LRO achieves full mission success in March, and its data is processed and released to the scientific community, it will have sent more information to the Planetary Data System than all other previous planetary missions combined. During its new phase of discovery, LRO will continue to map the moon for two to four more years.

    "The official start of LRO's science phase should write a new and intriguing chapter in lunar research," said Ed Weiler, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate. "This mission is one more asset added to NASA's vast science portfolio."

    The spacecraft launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida carrying a suite of seven instruments on June 18, 2009. LRO formally began its detailed survey of the moon in September 2009.

    Results from the mission include: new observations of the Apollo landing sites indications that permanently shadowed and nearby regions may harbor water and hydrogen observations that large areas in the permanently shadowed regions are colder than Pluto detailed information about lunar terrain and the first evidence of a globally distributed population of thrust faults that indicates the moon has recently contracted and may still be shrinking.

    LRO also took high resolution pictures of the Lunokhod 1 rover that had been lost for almost 40 years. The rover, which carries a retroreflector, was located to within approximately 150 feet. The accurate position data enabled researchers on Earth to bounce laser signals off the retroreflector for the first time ever. The retroreflector is providing important new information about the position and motion of the moon.

    LRO also supported the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite impact, a companion mission sent to determine if the moon's poles harbor water ice, by helping to select a promising impact site. LRO observed both the expanding plume that arose after the impact and the evolving temperature at the site.

    NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., built and manages LRO for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. The Institute for Space Research in Moscow provides the neutron detector aboard the spacecraft.

    NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) team released Tuesday the final set of data from the mission's exploration phase along with the first measurements from its new life as a science satellite.

    With this fifth release of data, striking new images and maps have been added to the already comprehensive collection of raw lunar data and high-level products, including mosaic images, that LRO has made possible. The spacecraft's seven instruments delivered more than 192 terabytes of data with an unprecedented level of detail. It would take approximately 41,000 typical DVDs to hold the new LRO data set.

    "The release of such a comprehensive and rich collection of data, maps and images reinforces the tremendous success we have had with LRO in the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate and with lunar science," said Michael Wargo, chief lunar scientist of the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

    Among the latest products is a global map with a resolution of 100 meters per pixel from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC). To enhance the topography of the moon, this map was made from images collected when the sun angle was low on the horizon. Armchair astronauts can zoom in to full resolution with any of the mosaics -- quite a feat considering that each is 34,748 pixels by 34,748 pixels, or approximately 1.1 gigabytes.

    "Because the moon is so close and because we have a dedicated ground station, we are able to bring back as much data from LRO as from all the other planetary missions combined," said LRO Project Scientist Richard Vondrak of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

    LRO's Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment is providing new data relating to the moon's surface. These include maps of visual and infrared brightness, temperature, rock abundance, nighttime soil temperature and surface mineralogy. The data are in the form of more than 1700 digital maps at a range of resolutions that can be overlaid easily on other lunar data sets.

    The Lyman-Alpha Mapping Project, which collects information to help identify surface water-ice deposits, especially in permanently-shadowed regions of the moon, also has new data. This release includes new maps of far-ultraviolet (FUV) brightness, albedo and water-ice data as well as instrument exposure, illumination and other conditions.

    As a complement to the high-resolution digital elevation maps, representing 3.4 billion measurements already released by the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter team, the group is delivering new maps of slope, roughness and illumination conditions. New maps from the Lunar Exploration Neutron Detector, and the latest data from the Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation and the Miniature Radio Frequency instruments, also are featured.

    "All these global maps and other data are available at a very high resolution -- that's what makes this release exciting," said Goddard's John Keller, the LRO deputy project scientist. "With this valuable collection, researchers worldwide are getting the best view of the moon they have ever had."

    The complete data set contains the raw information and high-level products such as mosaic images and maps. The data set also includes more than 300,000 calibrated data records released by LROC. All of the final records from the exploration phase, which lasted from Sept. 15, 2009 through Sept. 15, 2010, are available through several of the Planetary Data System nodes and the LROC website.

    Harold Hill and the south polar region of the moon.

    HAROLD HILL (1920-2005) was the quintessential amateur astronomer. An Inspector of Mines by vocation and highly esteemed as an accomplished draughtsman, he belonged in many ways more to the nineteenth century, that time when first-rate amateurs laid the foundation of modern solar system astronomy. He was in fact, a man who, irrespective of the time of day or night, weather and leisure permitting, spontaneously yielded to the demands of his natural gift of transmitting to paper either by pen, pencil or brush, facsimiles of scenes and events his telescopes had disclosed on the Sun, Moon and planets, more particularly the Moon. (1) Indeed his combination of artistic skills, acute powers of observation, decades of close observational experience--and ready recall of that resource--render him unique among serious modern selenographers.

    Resolute and conscientious, of a modest retiring disposition, Hill was ever attentive to the queries of the novice and encouraging in his response. 'The lesson to be learned,' he wrote in 1991, 'is that no aspiring observer need feel outclassed by the larger, 'superior' equipment of his colleagues. It must not be forgotten that large telescopes are more prone to atmospheric vagaries besides being much less easy to operate--all things considered, it is the person 'at the small end' who really counts.' (2) But if a kindly mentor, he could be a severe critic (though always constructive), and did not lightly countenance what he termed 'time-wasters'. His aim was 'to stimulate and encourage those who are drawn to the study of our nearest neighbour in space,' he told his readers in 1991, bluntly adding, 'but not those whose preference is to do so only from the comfort of an armchair.' (3)

    Though an avid observer of the Sun--he served as Assistant Director, then briefly as Director of the Association's Solar Section (1972) (4)--Hill is today better known as a selenographer, renowned for his accurate transcriptions of lunar morphology, a sampling of which can be found in his acclaimed A Portfolio of Lunar Drawings (1991). (5) To eyes that have viewed the Moon chiefly through the imagery of Lunar Orbiter, Apollo, Clementine, and so on, the collection, if strikingly beautiful, may seem strange, perhaps bizarre, even to the point of being quaintly redundant. But in saying that we need to consider what it really represents to remind ourselves that the truth of the Moon's chiaroscuro is not to be captured in a few casual sessions at the eyepiece, as any seasoned selenographer will readily affirm, but rather through a protracted course of study extending over many years if not a lifetime. Thus to the informed it is not just a collection of finely executed pictures of lunar features, but a unique record--one man's attempt to accurately portray in some detail aspects of the surface under different angles of illumination as they appeared to him through telescopes of modest aperture, a tradition of drawing begun by Galileo and Harriot, and continued by Schroter, Madler, Schmidt, Elger, Krieger, Goodacre, Wilkins and others through to the present day, although we cannot help but think it may represent the last direct link with that chain.

    Hill too was not impervious to the changing climate of selenography. Yet he stood aloof. 'It might be supposed,' he wrote, 'that traditional selenography was all but redundant. The impression could have been given that a revolution had taken place in which the amateur's role, formerly regarded as of the greatest importance, had now Baum: Harold Hill and the South Polar Region of the Moon given way to a massive professional involvement.' (6) To the contrary he argued: 'Amateurs should not allow themselves to be deterred in their efforts by the excellence of professional results. As in so many fields of human endeavour, the qualities of patience, application, assiduity--all summed up in the word dedication--when coupled to experience, skill and, of course, suitable equipment, can still achieve a good deal even though the emphasis and direction of the observer's studies have had to change.' (7) This truism, so often overlooked nowadays, linked him both in spirit and substance to the telescopists of yesterday, who established the foundations of lunar cartography and pioneered the way to the Moon.

    This then was Hill at his best. He recognised the shortcomings of extant lunar cartography 'No man, even if he were to live to the age of Methuselah, could possibly observe effectively all the lunar formations and make a complete map of the Moon from his work alone,' H. P. Wilkins (1896-1960) had said. (8) Hill agreed, but he was not just a mapper of dead rocks, the surveyor of a celestial graveyard. Nor did he assign priority to geological interpretation or indicate interest in the history of the subject.

    To him the Moon was a perennial lure and a joy, a fascination he pursued with skill and expressed as an artist, vividly capturing the drama of its unfolding chiaroscuro in Indian ink wash--his first serious attempt using this technique was made on 1946 December 11, and depicts sunset on the famous Messier pair of craters. (9) Later he turned to stippling in black and white to accommodate photocopying, a style that promoted a cult following. It is not without interest therefore, to relay his private thoughts on the matter as given in a letter dated 1988 July 14: 'The stippling technique of my lunar work is tedious in the extreme as you can imagine, and was only adopted because it photocopies quite faithfully and does not suffer seriously from reproduction in the TNM [The New Moon, then the Bulletin of the Association's Lunar Section] magazine unlike my earlier Indian ink work (diluted for tone) which, in actual fact, I much prefer because it looks more like the lunar surface.' (10)

    All his drawings are annotated with date and time and technical data relative to the time of observation, such as seeing conditions, colongitude, selenographical latitude, and libration. In some cases they carry extensive inscriptions, while vignettes within the larger scene illustrate minutely observed differences in the aspect of small scale features due to changing sun angle during the course of the observation. An exquisite series shows the progress of illumination from sunrise to sunset on Messier and Messier A. There are similar studies of the crater Birt and the isolated mountains Pico and Piton. Needless to say, close observation of this nature highlights the merit of repeat observations at different sun angles, and demonstrates how interpretation of surface features is critically dependent on lighting.

    The absence of the familiar from the pages of the Portfolio is due, Hill explained, to: 'The almost total exclusion from my logbooks of old warhorses such as the Theophilus trio, the Ptolemaeus group, Posidonius, Gassendi etc., and even Plato'. These he said, 'have been ransacked to death by observers in the past. You see,' he continued, 'once my lunar programme was formulated I tended to concentrate on the lesser known regions--not necessarily those in the libratory zones. Even now, after so many years, I feel that my topographical knowledge of the moon is desperately limited.' (11) And so it may have been in an absolute sense, but not when compared to that of others his experience in fact allowed him to speak with considerable authority on topographical matters and to judge wisely on controversial aspects such as Transient Lunar Phenomena.

    In the year 1787 Baron Franz Xavier von Zach (1754-1832) proposed to search for the rumoured planet between Mars and Jupiter, but abandoned the idea when he found the preparatory work of charting and examining the zodiacal stars, in those pre-photographic days, too great a task for one man working alone. (12) In similar fashion, Harold Hill decided to map the poorly known region round the South Pole of the Moon. Undeterred by the obvious difficulties and a caution from the experienced British selenographer Alfred Noel Neate that, '. you will not finish it in my lifetime and will be hard-pressed to complete it to your satisfaction in even yours,' (13) Hill embarked on the adventure in 1951, making his first foray into the region on January 26. For the moment he was sustained by what to him held the promise of fulfilment of a shared interest in the region. It was in truth a counsel of perfection. Some thirty-seven years later with Neate dead, Hill's optimism, though undiminished and still goal-driven, lacked sparkle. 'The full realisation of just how truly vast is the place [Moon] only comes with long experience,' he wrote. 'My bulkiest files are those containing observations concentrated on the south polar regions.' But, 'at the moment, [these] are still in process of reduction and analysis, with a little revisional work at the telescope thrown in as opportunity arises.' Even so he admitted: 'This has proved to be a truly monumental task . to which I really think I should give priority until complete.' If, he added somewhat poignantly, '. such a survey could ever be regarded as complete.' (14) Four years later in 1992, his tone was even less ebullient: 'Whilst not exactly lacking in observational matter for any of the sectors which I shall be covering, . it is a monumental task to collate the whole, analyse it and set it down in a manner which will be comprehensible to the reader/student.' (15) Inertia alone now drove his interest. Meanwhile in 1990 professional geographer John Westfall of the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers (USA) completed and published his map of the region based on the results of a visual and photographic survey, the Lunar Incognita Project, begun in 1972, (16) while Clementine and ground-based radar studies have since considerably extended our coverage: Harold Hill's dream remained ethereal. Why? Had he done what some scholars do--spend their life in close study of a subject yet published little of their results?

    Time and the fading vision

    That of course is too simplistic. We cannot know what passed through Hill's mind so the real reason can never be known. Doubtless in the flush of enthusiasm with confidence in his abilities, Neate's warning fell on stony ground. Adopting Humboldtian principles Hill marched into the jumbled terrain of the South Pole and set about his Herculean task in a methodical and highly organised way, following the practice promulgated by J. H. Schroter (1745-1816) at the end of the eighteenth century--the close scrutiny of selected formations. At this Hill, with an eye for detail and a very precise way of working, became very proficient. Each year, he would purchase a copy of the Astronomical Ephemeris and in a diary bought especially for the purpose plan his observational programme for the coming months, noting down dates and times when objects germane to his endeavour would be favourably placed for study. Subject to the vagaries of weather he remained faithful to that diary. In this way he collected data in a precise and measured way and over the decades built up a large archive of eyepiece impressions, hence the reference to his 'bulkiest files'.

    As time passed however his meticulous approach, clearly evidenced by his interest in Clavius and a more subtle phenomenon spotted in the Dorfel Mountains on 1951 September 27, (17) though correct and wholly commendable, developed more into an incubus, a time consuming trait--a Trojan horse. Not only had he misjudged the complexity of what he proposed, but and perhaps more significantly, he had become strangely careless of the clock, viz., the length of time required to satisfy the strictures of his own demanding nature --the very trait of which A. N. Neate and H. P. Wilkins had warned.

    Yet behind the facade of the convoluted and technical, lies something else: Hill it is true, had the precise skills of a surveyor or a topographical draughtsman this is evident in each piece of work he produced. Take a closer look at his work however, and one becomes aware of something else, that his instincts more resembled those of an artist. He gifts the pictorial a moment unique and mysterious, with an interpretation outside the boundaries of science and lays before us a fact that transcends the familiar. Even a casual examination shows his drawings are not straight impressions--the difference is much like that between a drawing and a technical drawing. There is nothing remotely ubiquitous about them. Hill saw the apparent with new eyes and looked beyond to see what others had missed--the sublime in the ordinary a quality that goes beyond photographic realism. This arguably was one of his greatest functions. He saw features in context, defined their subtle nuances according to his own artistic aims, and unified them with a convincing atmosphere to produce images of arresting aspect a dimension that echoes the importance of landscape in the imagination of the great nineteenth century romantics.

    Significantly his studies in chiaroscuro, the play of light and shade across the region, exhibit a certain tension between art and science an imbalance in favour of aesthetics, a romantic proclivity exemplified by his interest in Clavius, the great crater near the south pole, '[my] own special interest,' he wrote, 'has been directed towards a study of the great east wall under sunset conditions when it is brilliantly lit and also to capture those rather infrequent opportunities of observing last light along the very crest itself.' (18) He was evidently possessed of a genuine sense of wonder, a desire to see what it was like on the other side of the hill. Such interest cannot be quantified. It is the kind that drives people to climb impossible mountains or trek across featureless deserts. Percival Lowell said it well in the opening sentence of Mars and Its Canals (1906): 'From time immemorial,' he wrote, 'travel and discovery have called with strange insistence to him who, wondering on the world, felt adventure in his veins.' (19) No matter if the undertaking is incorporeal, it still marks a departure point. William Herschel was less rhetorical when he resolved, 'to take nothing on trust, but to see with my own eyes all that other men had seen before.' (20)

    Both statements resonated in April 1988 when Hill wrote to say he had at last witnessed, 'the last lighting on the great E. wall of Clavius,' adding, 'that I have waited years to catch this right.' Here he alludes to 1973 April 11 when he was only able to capture the essentials of the visual picture. He continued, 'I still await an opportunity to follow the very last stages of illumination to see if the upper crests break into isolated peaks'. (21) Six months later in November 1988, five finely figured drawings excitedly spoke of success. Made during the chill early hours of the third day of that month, they show the crest breaking up into isolated spots and lineaments of light above ramparts cloaked in darkness. On the floor far below, small craters bask in a pool of light. The scene is moody and atmospheric and provides a significant insight into the thought, values and philosophy of the observer --his feelings wrapped up in the bland yet vibrant comment, 'a long awaited opportunity under reasonable conditions.' (22) Although this sequence takes place each lunation, observing it from the Earth is indeed a challenging assignment dependent on a number of factors, such as the exact position of the terminator, the Moon's declination, libration, local weather and the quality of seeing and so on.

    What is suggested by all this is neither surprising nor unexpected. Awed by the craggy irregularity and elemental splendour of the South Polar region, with its majestic peaks, some scalloped, others tooth-shaped, all rising against the pitch-black background to dazzle the eye--one can almost imagine them to be mountains of Eternal Light, as in the imaginations of the older observers--the artist in Harold Hill had unwittingly usurped the cartographer. In other words another influence had taken control of his ambition. And it is this which truly underpinned his intent right from the start. Without a system of measurement how could he construct a chart? Without photography how could he achieve complete or near complete accuracy? How indeed could he hope to prepare a map that was not a sketch map? His intent was not so much a map such as Beer and Madler and Schmidt produced, but a pictorial representation that gave a better picture of the South Polar region. Something that offered scope for his artistic abilities but which ultimately proved fatal to his plan.

    Yes, his professional instincts still shone in his meticulously figured charts and drawings, but his artistic sensibilities had succumbed to the Siren song of chiaroscuro, transforming his science-orientated survey into something else--a study in landscape appreciation. Couple this to the very high standards he set himself, add the time element evidenced by his waiting for a whole Saros cycle to verify an aspect, and through the mists of history we obtain a glimpse of the complex equation that may explain why Harold Hill's long anticipated chart of the Moon's South Polar region remains in embryo.

    South Pole reconnaissance

    The South Polar region of the Moon lies between the mean limb and the 75th parallel of south latitude, and includes a narrow strip of the averted hemisphere that shows at optimum libration the south pole itself lies behind the formation Malapert a. Apart from containing some of the highest mountains on the visible surface, the region which includes the formations Amundsen, Cabaeus, Demonax, Drygalski, Malapert, Newton, Schomberger, Scott, and Short, 'presents the usual appearance associated with 'continental' areas mountain-walled plains, ring plains, craters, irregular depressions, valleys, etc., . all jumbled up in apparent confusion, whilst typical mare features, such as clefts, domes, etc., appear to be entirely absent.' (23)

    'To compare how the classical authorities configured the region is to know the reason for Harold Hill's explorations. There is very little agreement between them,' Ewen A. Whitaker said in 1954, 'except where one selenographer has copied directly from another.' (24) Indeed, he elaborated, 'Madler's map gave the truest representation of the area Goodacre's map, on the other hand, proved to be hopelessly inaccurate, even the large formations being wrongly plotted and very inaccurately delineated.' (25) Hill was more forthright.

    He believed the reason why the pioneers, 'gave such inadequate accounts of these areas is chiefly because of the difficulties encountered . by the extreme foreshortening of limb features. They judged the placement of principal craters hereabouts but this work bore no comparison to their endeavours in charting the more readily accessible parts of the lunar globe and it is clear that they gave the polar regions a wide berth. Elger, Fauth, Goodacre and Wilkins showed the same avoidance of the representation of polar detail except to chart what were clearly non-existent features by the filling in of embarrassing gaps in the record by oval rings which, it has to be said, did not always obey the laws of perspective!' (26)

    After an initial survey in 1952 Whitaker constructed the first reliable map of the region. Two years later he published a more detailed chart. This was based on photographs taken with the 36-inch (0.914m) reflector at the Royal Greenwich Observatory under advantageous circumstances of altitude and southerly libration in the period 1951-1954. Numerous visual studies with smaller instruments were also made to check interpretation of detail in areas where viewing and illumination angles are always low. (27)

    Meanwhile the complex and greatly elevated region had caught the imagination of Harold Hill. Writing in 1970 as Coordinator of Selected Areas (Polar) of the Association's Lunar Section, he challenged serious observers by saying 'It is often quoted that the Moon is now so thoroughly covered photographically at close range by the Surveyor & Orbiter series of probes, that telescopic cartography is virtually at an end. This may well be so, but I have yet to see any close-up shots around the lunar poles. Furthermore, the blank patches marked 'unsatisfactory photography' in polar areas on charts compiled from Orbiter photographs, require some explanation. Could it be that these regions have been covered but ineffectually by either (a) sub-standard photography? Or (b) oblique exposures which have given insufficient data?'28 That, of course, is not to say Earth-based observers could compete in accuracy and resolution of detail with what had been achieved elsewhere on the lunar surface. Rather he was emphasising to those with 'a good eye and capable of recording faithfully what they see' the opportunities that exist in the notoriously difficult polar regions, particularly in the south. Sadly the response to his plea was depressingly negative.

    How much did Harold Hill owe to the influence of A. N. Neate? A great deal it seems. Not only did Hill dedicate his Portfolio to him but in so doing disclosed that 'he was my mentor in lunar studies in my early observing days, stressing the paramount importance of accurate positional work in selenography. Neate's measures ranked with those of Franz and Saunder.' (29) He published several papers in the Association's Journal and was noted for the accuracy of his work. It is thus more than reasonable to presume his role was seminal in the flowering of Hill's magnificent preoccupation, and in all likelihood partly responsible for his South Polar venture --one of the least known regions of the Moon in those days. Whether Hill himself conducted micrometrical measurements is uncertain, but from the wording of the dedication we can safely suppose his outlook and mode of working were shaped by contact with Neate.

    'A final note' found among Hill's papers tends to confirm this surmise. 'If a high degree of positional accuracy were to be aimed for--a desirable and indeed essential thing in itself --then precise ephemeris data is required to enable the student to put the micrometrical measures of his photography to effective use. This would certainly involve applying corrections to the geocentric librations for the effects of lunar parallax at his locality. Given the programming necessary for this, the computer would have no difficulty in dealing with the ephemeris data . One writes from experience.' (30)

    Some idea of what progress he had made may be gleaned from a private letter of 1971 September 19: 'You will appreciate that progress in this kind of work is necessarily slow and only to be measured over many years of application. Recently I compiled a catalogue of the more comprehensive observations made here since 1950 and I found that there were only about 130 drawings containing sufficiently positive data for charting. However, the present 90-inch polar map is a considerable advance on anything to which I have access. It covers an area east-west from Demonax to Legentil and down to about 75[degrees]S. latitude but the most detailed work is contained within the 80[degrees] circle and on the averted side as far as is practicable. The map is drawn for an optimum libration of -7[degrees] in latitude.' (31) Twenty-one years later, Hill added a tailpiece, 'thus enabling features which lie along the mean limb and beyond to be displayed to optimum advantage, although, strictly speaking, parallax does not allow such an extreme value to be realised from the northern hemisphere.' (32)

    A photocopy of a rough early draft of the map, what Hill called 'the embryo chart', was sent to me in 1992. This he said had still to be updated with data collected during the 1980s with the 10-inch (0.254m) reflector. It is on a scale of 94 inches to the Moon's diameter and may be the one he referred to in 1971. Principal features as laid down originally were deemed to be positionally correct. In general in parts it is slightly less informative than Ewen Whitaker's chart of 1954. Its chief aim is to identify the five zones into which Hill divided the southern limb. No further drafts have been seen, if they exist.

    Here as elsewhere Hill dates his interest from 1950, but in 1970 he wrote 'My observational interest in the Moon nowadays is confined to a few selected areas, chiefly in the more or less difficult librational regions in the higher latitudes, and more particularly around the lunar south pole. This is in pursuance of a survey which was first undertaken by me in the late 1940's and early 50's.' 'I am still intrigued,' he continued, 'by the problems of interpretation awaiting solution here where confusion is caused by the masking effects of shadows from the lofty elevations, cast by an always low Sun, moving, for the most part, in azimuth rather than altitude across the lunar sky.' (33)

    Though much still remained to be done, Hill had begun to consider what form his report might take. 'Apart from the observational, topographic findings,' he wrote on 1992 June 11, 'there will be introductory notes dealing with the history of previous work done in the surveillance of these notoriously difficult regions, with full acknowledgement of E. A. Whitaker whose map may rightly be said to be the first to lay the foundations of accurately charting the south polar regions. There will be references to the early selenographers and the inherent difficulties which they encountered in their efforts at cartography in the higher latitudes, but I have to admit that material available for an adequate discussion is scanty at this end. Needless to say, personal observations of extremely attenuated southern cusps showing feeble and diffuse strips of light along the limb of the averted hemisphere which may throw light upon Schroeter's belief in lunar atmospheric phenomena will be included . but all this is to look ahead.' (34)

    In 2004 he sent me five sheets of notes about the project, followed twenty-four hours later by a package of drawings. 'The facsimile[s] I had made proved to contain too many blemishes (minor for the most part) to consider sending, so the ones enclosed are the originals.' He said in a covering letter. 'I can always correct the faulty sheets by deletion with black and white where appropriate. On checking the enclosed I see my earliest observation of the region was made 26.1.51 so actually pre-dating Whitaker's photograph which was dated 1951 Dec. 11.'35 The drawings, which total 178, are divided into seven series, of which the key elements are termed Series 1 and 2. A list by series appears in the Appendix.

    Hill divided the southern limb into five equal zones, from Demonax in the east to Drygalski and the Doerfel Mts on the west. Moving east to west these are designated Zone A, Leibnitz y Zone B, Leibnitz P Zone C, Malapert Zone D, west from the prime meridian to the mountain M4, and Zone E, Drygalski to Hausen.

    Though a tiny amount of material relating to Zones A-C and E was sent, the bulk perhaps because of failing health and the distraction caused by the arrival of his new telescope and the start of the Mars opposition in 2005 remained unclassified and was never sent. Hill considered the fragment he sent at that time too marginal to discuss, therefore it is not described.

    Thus it was Zone D alone upon which he focused at the end. Long hours at the eyepiece had resulted in a mass of information, notably about the tall shadow-casting peaks he had struggled to define in the icy depths of winter and the humidity of summer. He was convinced of their true character and did not believe as some conjectured, that they were crater rims. Ironically the serrated profile of the South Pole with its prospect of hidden water ice is now targeted by NASA as a possible lunar base. The Leibnitz Mountains, as J. H. Schroter named them, no longer exist on modern maps. The appellation was erased because the nomenclature committee of the International Astronomical Union found it difficult to identify them. Nevertheless they exist. Visible in quite modest telescopes they are believed to form part of the rim of the South Pole Aitken basin. Ewen Whitaker accurately plotted the largest peaks on his 1954 map, and labeled them M1 to M5, designations retained by Hill.

    Now that we know the source of Hill's interest, and its relevance to contemporary selenography, I will conclude by quoting his thoughts about the mountains M4 and M5 which though located on the far-side, under favourable libration nevertheless are brought into view of the telescope. Notwithstanding the erasure of modern times they are without doubt among the most impressive mountains on the visible surface of the Moon.

    Harold Hill on the mountains M4 and M5

    'The elevations in the lunar north polar region have been referred to graphically, one might say romantically, as 'The Mountains of Eternal Light'--presumably on the supposition that they are receiving continual sunlight on account of their global position, but it would be more apt if this description were sacrificed to those mountains in the opposite hemisphere as they are unquestionably of much greater altitude.

    'Moreover, there is observational evidence to show that the summits of M5, for instance, enjoy almost perpetual illumination on their sunward-facing sides. Visual and photographic estimates of the vertical height of M5, endorsed further by direct micrometrical measures, give a figure of the order of 33,000ft., 6.25 miles or 10km. indicating that this mountain is, almost certainly, the highest on that part of the lunar surface visible from the Earth. Its great altitude is borne out also by the continued visibility of the summit(s) for several days following New Moon. Indeed, if the Sun's selenographical latitude, BQ, is favourable, it can be followed until just after the First Quarter phase providing that suitable southern libration allows the terrestrial observer access to the region.

    'Evidence is provided from data drawn up from the author's observational records at those times when the conditions of presentation were advantageous for such an enquiry.

    'Inspection of the data shows (with three exceptions only) that M5 could be traced until colongitude [C.sub.[dot in a circle]] = 10[degrees] but normally failed to be followed further until its emergence from shadow three days later at [C.sub.[dot in a circle]] = 45[degrees]. There is a recorded instance, however, at [C.sub.[dot] in a circle]] = 19[degrees].6 under [B.sub.[dot in a circle]] = -1[degrees].27 (1983 April 21) when a speck of light was visible in the position of M5, and yet another at [C.sub.[dot] in a circle]] = 33[degrees] under [B.sub.[dot in a circle]] = -1[degrees].49 (1984 March 12) when the two summit specks were seen in the correct position during the course of what was regarded as an unprecedented observation.

    'Both these observations serve to reinforce the view that the high points of M5 were lit temporarily on those occasions by sunlight directed through as yet unidentified passes or cols in the mountainous foreground. There can be little doubt that both M5 and M4 suffer eclipse by the enormous shadows thrown from the north-easterly situated elevations until the motion of the Sun in azimuth has carried it clear of these obstructions.

    'Examination of the principal chart points to the probability that the Malapert Alpha massif and its associated ranges and the Cabaeus ramparts are all in their turn responsible for excluding sunlight from the regions in question by reason of their selenographical position and very considerable elevation above the mean surface.

    'Drawings in the observational sequences Series 1 and Series 2 deal with Zone D and show clearly that the summit peaks of M5 and M4 begin to receive uninterrupted illumination from approximately [C.sub.[dot in a circle]] = 45[degrees] and, exceptionally, as early as [C.sub.[dot in a circle]] = 43[degrees] when BQ reaches its maximum value of -1[degrees]56.

    'The Series 1 and 2 sequences comprise some 90 aspects of the changing appearances of the region under consideration through 200[degrees] of solar azimuth. The last record to be obtained in which both M5 and M4 could be positively identified in a lunation was that of 1985 Sept

    12 at [C.sub.[dot in a circle]] =241[degrees], when optimum libratory conditions for that section of the lunar limb occurred. On that exceptional occasion the 'contre-jour' lighting, to use a photographic term, showed the far upper slopes of both mountains to be clearly visible.

    'There is no particular reason to suppose that they would not remain so until the beginning of yet another lunation, so the contention that both M5 and M4 may be regarded as Mountains of almost Eternal Light is held to be fully justified.' (35)

    Comment on M5 by Ewen A. Whitaker

    'I was interested in Harold Hill's idea that M5 might be high enough to be a mountain of Eternal Light. The best test of this is the Orbiter 4 series of frames that include the south polar regions. So I have made a pretty thorough examination of these to see whether M5 was illuminated in all or only part of these. This was quite a test, due mainly to the varying viewing angles and low angles of illumination. The Sun's sel[enographical] latitude increased from 0.25 to 0.7 deg. North during the Orbiter's imagery. Despite this, Shackleton, the 'South Pole Crater', has at least a small part of its rim illuminated in all images. However, M5 does not share this property, and is in darkness for about 8 or 9 days. Even with the Sun at its maximum southerly latitude of 1.32 deg., M5 would still undergo only intermittent illumination. I suspect that Shackleton's rim would also experience a period of prolonged darkness when the Sun's latitude was greater than about 1 degree north.' (36)

    Did Hill fail? His dream of charting the South Polar region was not realised, but neither did Johann Hieronymous Schroter's much publicised map of the near side of the Moon become a reality. Both were projects of their day. The former conceived his plan in the twilight of the old ways at the dawn of the Space Age, when the south pole of the Moon was, to use a phrase of the time, Lunar Incognita. Diana called Harold Hill responded to the challenge with enthusiasm in his own inimitable way. He tied up the various strands with the ribbon of his talent and policed the chaos of light and shade with no more resources at his command than a telescope and his own native abilities. It was all he had and in his eyes quite enough. His was the approach of the rugged individual facing the wilderness, sans photography, sans a filar micrometer. He was in truth a pioneer, no different in fact from those who opened up the North American wilderness in colonial times and later in the days of Westward Expansion.

    The obstacles he had to overcome were immense if not immediately obvious they rarely are when embarking on a serious study, yet after time it becomes only too obvious there are infinite riches in a small room that no two views are ever the same and so one slowly begins to realise that a detailed appraisal would take a lifetime of observing opportunity, especially when the uncertainties of weather, windows of opportunity and the geometry of the system are factored into the equation. It was a bold gesture, one that would have yielded the most convincing of results, given enough time. But it was ever a dream destined to remain a dream, or better the ghost of a dream. The secret must be in knowing when and where to 'draw the line' and leave things for others to take up ultimately this is what let Hill down, his reluctance to give up. Yet in a sense he did succeed. In a collection of drawings that is singularly unique he left us a legacy--a testament that signals his dedication and is a beacon to all no matter what their level of interest one that is quite the equal of the inspirational qualities that shone in J. H. Schroter and the Revd T. W. Webb.

    So did Harold Hill really fail? The most obvious of answers is yes. That however overlooks the spirit in which the adventure was undertaken. If visual observers allow themselves to be intimidated by developments in technology they basically airbrush themselves out of the picture. And yet what is the importance of any of it, except insofar as the Moon, its features, its beauty registers on the consciousness of people like Harold Hill? At one level, the Iliad can be reduced to a matter of force and projectile physics. What need for Homer? Harold Hill, skilled observer of the physical world that he was, reminds us of the human element in the equation that is to say the romance, the golden thread that weaves its way through the tapestry of knowledge. It is that which set Harold Hill apart and is his real legacy to selenography. And when mankind is established at the Moon's South Pole, perhaps someone will acknowledge the part he played along with others like Ewen Whitaker and Alfred Noel Neate, as North Americans remember the pioneers of the old Frontier. Perhaps then we may finally understand what drove them, and Harold Hill in particular, to spend inordinate amounts of time clarifying the confusion of light and shadow that alternately eclipses then reveals mysteries, in realms the majority will never travel and whose interpretation ever remains in doubt.

    No work is written in isolation. I therefore thank Bill Leatherbarrow for kindly reading through successive drafts, highlighting infelicities and bringing information to my attention. Ewen A. Whitaker willingly provided substantial information from his own research, and courteously gave of his time to answer numerous questions. To Richard McKim who as ever proved a mine of information, I extend gratitude for his ever quick and courteous response to requests irrespective of their complexity. I am greatly indebted to Julian Baum who gave generously of his time to scan, size and arrange all the illustrations that accompany the paper. Nigel Longshaw is thanked for his patience and many useful suggestions. I also have to thank Roger Pickard and Nick James for time spent on answering a number of enquiries. Last but certainly not least I have to acknowledge with gratitude the help Edward Hill afforded me in working through his father's papers.

    Address: 25 Whitchurch Road, Chester CH3 5QA. [richard]

    Observational sequences of M4 and M5 by

    As noted earlier Harold Hill made hundreds of drawings of formations at and around the South Pole, many finished, others not. Just how many is not known. The set sent to me in 2004, inventoried below, is focused on the mountains M4 and M5 and consists of 91 consecutively numbered vignettes of these features. Hill's numbering has been retained throughout, which explains breaks in continuity. This procedure has been adopted to facilitate future reference and to avoid the need for cross-indexing.

    1.--Zone D. Series 1. Original drawings, comprising 1 (one) title sheet, and 8 (eight) A4 size sheets of cartridge paper containing 43 (forty-three) drawings, numbered 1-43 consecutively and is described as follows: 'The progress of illumination during the lunar day showing the changing aspects in the high south latitude region embraced by the mountains designated M1 to M5 and arranged in order of solar colongitude. This is an early sequence compiled from observations made chiefly between the 1950 & 1970 decades using Newtonian reflectors of 6[1/2]" & 7[1/4]" apertures. (The significance of the changing values of the Sun's selenographical latitude on the lighting is discussed in the accompanying notes wherever relevant.)'

    2.--Zone D. Series 2. Original drawings, consists of 13 (thirteen) A4 sheets of cartridge paper containing 49 (forty-nine) drawings, numbered 44-91 consecutively. Described thus: 'A recapitulation of the changing appearances during the lunar day of the region embracing the mountains designated M1-M5 which are all contained within the south polar circle down to 84[degrees] latitude. These impressions obtained with reflectors of 8.25 and 10 inches aperture, are in continuation of the previous series which was made during earlier Saros periods when conditions were also favourable for study. They therefore admit of direct comparisons being made.'

    3.--3 (three) drawings. (Photocopies).

    (a) The Casatus-Klaproth Region at Sunset. 1989 October 24, 04:45-06:05 UT.

    (b) Newton to Casatus & Klaproth. 1989 December 7, 17:5018:55 UT.

    (c) Moretus to Scott & Amundsen. 1993 October 23, 18:25-19:05, then to 1925 UT.

    4.--Vignettes of limited portions of the Leibnitz p/Malapert regions and the mountains beyond arranged according to the progression of lighting from solar colongitudes 60[degrees]-88.6[degrees]. Comprises 5 (five) A4 sheets. Consists of 13 drawings. Photocopies.

    5.--Observations on three mornings showing M1 and M3 in pro file at the southern limb but under advancing afternoon lighting and with increasing northerly libration--the Sun's selenographical latitude being near its maximum positive value. 1 (one) A4 sheet of cartridge paper containing 3 (three) drawings. Original.

    6.--Six profile studies of the mountain masses M1 & M3 showing the successive presentations as they are carried towards, onto, and over the southern limb with the increasing value of northern libration in latitude. Approx. scale: 95 inches to the Moon's diameter. Instrument 6[1/2]" Refl. x 165.1 (one) A4 sheet of cartridge paper containing 6 (six) drawings.

    7.--14 (fourteen) A4 sheets containing 18 (eighteen) drawings of Mountains M1-M5. Photocopies.

    (1) Strach E. H. & Baum R. M., 'Obituary: Harold Hill (1920-2005)', J. Brit. Astron. Assoc., 116(4), 203-204 (2006)

    (2) Hill H., A Portfolio of Lunar Drawings, Cambridge University Press, 1991, xx. Hereafter the Portfolio

    (4) Heath A. W., 'Solar Section', in McKim R. J. (ed.), 'The British Astronomical Association, The Second Fifty Years', Mem. Brit. Astron. Assoc., 42(2), 54-59 (1990). Hill served as Director of the Solar Section following the death of W. M. Baxter (18961971). Having constructed a prominence spectroscope he made a great many fine drawings of prominences. Later he built a spectrohelioscope and recorded Ha features. After a year in office (1972) he relinquished the position of Director as he found the job too arduous, and it seriously interfered with his own observing programme. He was the recipient of the Association's Merlin Medal in 1969. His solar archive, which contains many fine drawings of prominences, is housed with the Liverpool Astronomical Society. See Harold Hill, 'The Sun: An Observing Primer', Sky & Tel., 95(3) (1998 March), 105-110. Copies of Hill's Mars drawings are lodged with the Mars Section of the BAA.

    (10) Harold Hill to Richard Baum, Private communication 1988 July 14, handwritten note on obverse side

    (11) Hill to Baum, Private communication 1988 April 22

    (12) Baum R. M., The Haunted Observatory, Prometheus, New York, 2007, 24-25

    (13) Hill to Baum, op.cit., ref.11

    (15) Hill to Baum, Private communication, 1992 June 11

    (16) Westfall J. E., 'Mapping Lunar Incognita', J. Assoc. Lunar & Plan. Obs., 34(4), 149-159 (1990). See also J. E. Westfall, 'Luna Incognita: Completing the Map of the Moon', Sky & Tel., 67(3), 284-286 (1984 March), and Westfall, 'The Luna Incognita Project', Sky & Tel., 82(5), 556-559 (1991 November)

    (17) Portfolio, 130-131. 'The eastern slopes of the Doerfels were seen to be dimly lit and capped by five separate summit peaks still shining brightly in the sunlight. Earthshine was very conspicuous that morning and the query raised was: 'Are the dimly lit slopes an effect of earthshine? If so why do not the shadowed western [eastern, new orientation] ramparts of Bailly appear likewise?' The effect was confirmed on 1969 October 8, one Saros later, earthshine again very bright. A Saros later cloud prevented verification. The Doerfel mountains so-called, actually form the ramparts of the formation Hausen and other large craters in the region.

    (19) Lowell P., Mars and Its Canals, Macmillan, 1906, 3

    (20) Quoted from Holden E. S., Sir William Herschel, His Life and Works, W. H. Allen, 1881, 4

    (21) Hill to Baum, op.cit., ref.11

    (22) Hill to Baum, Private communication 1988 November 7

    (23) Whitaker E. A., 'The Lunar South Polar Regions', J. Brit. Astron. Assoc., 64(6), 234-242: 239

    (26) Hill H., Some Considerations in the Study of the Lunar South Polar Regions, MSS in Hill papers.

    (27) op. cit., ref.23. The 1952 map is to be found in H. Percy Wilkins & P. A. Moore, The Moon: A complete description of the surface of the Moon, containing the 300-inch Wilkins Lunar Map, Faber and Faber, 1955, 320.

    (28) Hill H., 'Observing in the Librational Regions', BAA Lunar Section Circular 5(11), 103 (1970 November)

    (29) Neate's contributions to the Journal date back to the fourteenth volume (1904) and include 'The Use of Photographs in the measurement of Lunar Altitudes', 46, 41 'Relative Lunar Altitudes', 46, 71 'Region of Cichus', 47, 21 'The Crater Ptolemaeus', A 47, 73 B 64, 132-135 'The Lunar Formation Sven Hedin and beyond' 59, 102 and 'The Lunar Formation Newton and the evidence of photography', 62, 197. The other astronomers mentioned in the dedication are Samuel Arthur Saunders (1852-1912) and Julius Heinrich G. Franz (18471913) obituaries may be found in the MNRAS 73(4), 214-217, and 74(4) 281-282 respectively. Both are important figures in the history of selenography, the former in connection with positional studies and lunar nomenclature, the latter with the figure and libration of the Moon.

    National Science Foundation - Where Discoveries Begin

    October 5, 2016

    This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date please see current contact information at media contacts.

    Numerous scientific discoveries of global significance have been made in Antarctica by scientists supported by the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP), the national research effort on the southernmost continent. The National Science Foundation (NSF) administers the Antarctic Program and coordinates almost all U.S. science on the continent. For more information about the Antarctic Program, see:

    Recent USAP discoveries and landmarks in reverse chronological order.

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    The new dating system is expected to allow scientists to identify ice that is much older, thereby reconstructing climate much farther back into Earth's history and potentially leading to an understanding of the mechanisms that cause the planet to shift into and out of ice ages.

    Unmanned aircraft successfully tested as tool for measuring changes in polar ice sheets

    Scientists studying the behavior of the world's ice sheets--and the future implications of ice sheet behavior for global sea-level rise--may soon have a new airborne tool that will allow radar measurements that previously would have been prohibitively expensive or difficult to carry out with manned aircraft.

    In a paper published in the March/ April edition of IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Magazine, researchers at the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS) at the University of Kansas noted that they have successfully tested the use of a compact radar system integrated on a small, lightweight Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) to look through the ice and map the topography underlying rapidly moving glaciers.

    NSF-funded researchers say Antarctic telescope may have provided the first direct evidence of cosmic inflation and the origins of the universe

    Researchers with the National Science Foundation-funded BICEP2 Collaboration today announced that their telescope in Antarctica has allowed them to collect what they believe is the first direct evidence for cosmic inflation.

    Inflation is the cataclysmic event in which, in a fleeting fraction of a second following the Big Bang, the infant universe expanded exponentially, stretching far beyond the view of the best telescopes.

    Computer model predicts vastly different ecosystem in Antarctica's Ross Sea in the coming century

    The Ross Sea, a major, biologically productive Antarctic ecosystem, "clearly will be extensively modified by future climate change" in the coming decades as rising temperatures and changing wind patterns create longer periods of ice-free open water, affecting the life cycles of both predators and prey, according to a paper published by researchers funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

    Analysis indicates that North and tropical Atlantic warming affects Antarctic climate

    The gradual warming of the North and tropical Atlantic Ocean is contributing to climate change in Antarctica, a team of New York University (NYU) scientists supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) has concluded.

    Their work draws from more than three decades of atmospheric data and shows new ways in which distant regional conditions are contributing to Antarctic climate change.

    New sea anemone species discovered in Antarctica

    January 16, 2014

    National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, while using a camera-equipped robot to survey the area under Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf, unexpectedly discovered a new species of small sea anemones that were burrowed into the ice, their tentacles protruding into frigid water like flowers from a ceiling.

    NSF-funded IceCube Neutrino Observatory provides first indication of high-energy neutrinos from outside the solar system

    Researchers with the IceCube Collaboration have announced that a National Science Foundation (NSF)-built detector at the South Pole allowed them to observe 28 very high-energy neutrinos that constitute the first solid evidence for astrophysical neutrinos from cosmic accelerators.

    "This is the first indication of high-energy neutrinos coming from outside our solar system," says Francis Halzen, principal investigator of IceCube and the Hilldale and Gregory Breit Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "It is gratifying to finally see what we have been looking for. This is the dawn of a new age of astronomy."

    Early career investigator discovers current volcanic activity under West Antarctica

    Scientists funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) have observed "swarms" of seismic activity--thousands of events in the same locations, sometimes dozens in a single day--between January 2010 and March 2011, indicating current volcanic activity under the massive West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS).

    Measurements of Antarctic ice-shelf melt help to greatly refine models of global climate change

    In a finding that is expected to vastly improve models of the global effects of climate change on sea-level rise, a National Science Foundation- (NSF) funded research team, working in one of Antarctica's most challenging environments, has produced the first direct measurements of how relatively warm sea water undercuts a floating ice shelf that normally retards the movement of glaciers from the Antarctic continent to the sea.

    Antarctic ice core sheds new light on how the last ice age ended

    Analysis of an ice core taken by the National Science Foundation- (NSF) funded West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide drilling project reveals that warming in Antarctica began about 22,000 years ago, a few thousand years earlier than suggested by previous records.

    NSF-funded telescopes in Antarctica and Chile discover bursts of star formation in the early universe

    Distant, dust-filled galaxies were bursting with newborn stars much earlier in cosmic history than previously thought, according to newly published research.

    So-called "starburst galaxies" produce stars at the equivalent of a thousand new suns per year. Now, astronomers have found starbursts that were churning out stars when the universe was just a billion years old.

    Antarctic and Arctic insects use different genetic mechanisms to cope with lack of water

    Although they live in similarly extreme ecosystems at opposite ends of the world, Antarctic insects appear to employ entirely different methods at the genetic level to cope with extremely dry conditions than their counterparts that live north of the Arctic Circle, according to National Science Foundation- (NSF) funded researchers.

    Earth is warmer today than during 70 to 80 percent of the past 11,300 years

    With data from 73 ice and sediment core monitoring sites around the world, scientists have reconstructed Earth's temperature history back to the end of the last Ice Age.

    The analysis reveals that the planet today is warmer than it's been during 70 to 80 percent of the last 11,300 years.

    Results of the study, by researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) and Harvard University, are published this week in a paper in the journal Science.

    Antarctic ice core contains unrivaled detail of past climate

    A team of U.S. ice-coring scientists and engineers in Antarctica, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), has recovered from the ice sheet a record of past climate and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that extends back 68,000 years.

    In a scientific and engineering breakthrough, NSF-funded team samples Antarctic lake beneath the ice sheet

    In a first-of-its-kind feat of science and engineering, a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded research team has successfully drilled through 800 meters (2,600 feet) of Antarctic ice to reach a subglacial lake and retrieve water and sediment samples that have been isolated from direct contact with the atmosphere for many thousands of years.

    Scientists and drillers with the interdisciplinary Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling project (WISSARD) announced Jan. 28 local time (U.S. stations in Antarctica keep New Zealand time) that they had used a customized clean hot-water drill to directly obtain samples from the waters and sediments of subglacial Lake Whillans.

    Study finds that portions of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet are warming twice as fast as previously thought

    A new study funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) finds that the western part of the massive West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) is experiencing nearly twice as much warming as previously thought.

    The findings were published online this week in the journal Nature Geoscience. NSF manages the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) and coordinates all U.S. research and associated logistics on the southernmost continent and in the surrounding Southern Ocean.

    Trio of complex Antarctic science projects reaches significant technological milestones "on the Ice"

    Three very large-scale, National Science Foundation-funded Antarctic science projects--investigating scientifically significant subjects as varied as life in extreme ecosystems, the fate of one of the world's largest ice sheets and the nature of abrupt global climate-change events--have recently each reached important technological milestones that will advance cutting-edge research.

    Ancient microbes survive beneath the icy surface of Antarctic lake

    Researchers funded by the National Science Foundation describe in a new publication a viable community of bacteria that ekes out a living in a dark, salty and subfreezing environment beneath nearly 20 meters of ice in one of Antarctica's most isolated lakes.

    The finding could have implications for the discovery of life in other extreme environments, including elsewhere in the solar system.

    Changing climate, not tourism, seems to be driving decline in chinstrap penguin populations

    The breeding population of chinstrap penguins has declined significantly as temperatures have rapidly warmed on the Antarctic Peninsula, according to researchers funded in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

    The study indicates that changing climatic conditions, rather than the impact of tourism, have had the greatest effect on the chinstrap population.

    Researchers recover recorder from Antarctic waters containing critical baseline on acidification

    A research team supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) has retrieved data from a sensor in Antarctic waters that will provide critical baseline data on the changes in chemistry or acidification in those remote seas.

    NSF's South Pole Telescope discovers a galaxy cluster creating stars at a record pace

    A National Science Foundation-funded radio telescope in Antarctica has found an extraordinary galaxy cluster that may force astronomers to rethink how galaxy clusters and the galaxies that inhabit them evolve.

    Blue ribbon panel unveils findings on logistical improvements to support Antarctic science

    Today, the 12-member U.S. Antarctic Program Blue Ribbon Panel, commissioned by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) released their report, More and Better Science in Antarctica through Increased Logistical Effectiveness. The report is a comprehensive document based on several months of research, containing numerous specific recommendations for the U.S. logistics system for improved support of scientific research in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.

    IceCube Neutrino Observatory provides new insights into origin of cosmic rays

    Analysis of data from the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, a massive detector deployed in deep ice at the U.S. Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica at the geographic South Pole, recently provided new insight into one of the most enduring mysteries in physics, the production of cosmic rays.

    Scientists determined first-ever census for emperor penguins

    A new study using satellite mapping technology reveals there are twice as many emperor penguins in Antarctica than previously thought.

    The results provide an important benchmark for monitoring the impact of environmental change on the population of this iconic bird, which breeds in remote areas that are very difficult to study because they often are inaccessible with temperatures as low as -58 degrees Fahrenheit.

    South Pole Telescope provides new insights into dark energy and neutrinos

    Analysis of data from the National Science Foundation- (NSF) funded 10-meter South Pole Telescope (SPT) in Antarctica provides new support for the most widely accepted explanation of dark energy, the source of the mysterious force that is responsible for the accelerating expansion of the universe.

    The results begin to hone in on the tiny mass of the neutrinos, the most abundant particles in the universe, which until recently were thought to be without mass.

    First-ever use of airborne resistivity system in Antarctica allows researchers to look beneath surface in untapped territories

    National Science Foundation- (NSF) funded researchers have successfully tested equipment to map the hidden distribution of groundwater and ice in the McMurdo Dry Valleys region for the first time in Antarctica.

    The mapping technique, an airborne electrical resistivity instrument, will enable researchers to study microbial ecosystems in sub-glacial environments.

    NSF awards logistical support contract for U.S. Antarctic Program

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a multi-year contract to Lockheed Martin for logistical support for the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP). NSF provides funding for scientific research as well as for the necessary associated infrastructure and logistics, which includes three year-round research stations in Antarctica and two science vessels in the Southern Ocean. Lockheed Martin will begin providing logistical support on April 1, 2012.

    Antarctic icebergs play a previously unknown role in global carbon cycle, climate

    In a finding that has global implications for climate research, scientists have discovered that when icebergs cool and dilute the seas through which they pass for days, they also raise chlorophyll levels in the water that may in turn increase carbon dioxide absorption in the Southern Ocean.

    An interdisciplinary research team supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) highlighted the research this month in the journal Nature Geosciences.

    NSF/NASA scientific balloon launches from Antarctica

    NASA and the National Science Foundation launched a scientific balloon on Monday, December 20, Eastern Standard time, to study the effects of cosmic rays on Earth. It was the first of five scientific balloons scheduled to launch from Antarctica in December.

    The Cosmic Ray Energetics And Mass (CREAM VI) experiment was designed and built at the University of Maryland. CREAM is investigating high-energy cosmic-ray particles that originated from distant supernovae explosions in the Milky Way and reached Earth. Currently, CREAM VI is floating 126,000 ft above Antarctica with nominal science operations.

    NSF, University of Wisconsin-Madison complete construction of the world's largest neutrino observatory

    Culminating a decade of planning, innovation and testing, construction of the world's largest neutrino observatory, installed in the ice of the Antarctic plateau at the geographic South Pole, was successfully completed December 18, 2010, New Zealand time.

    Dome away from home

    After more than three decades of service to researchers and staff stationed at the bottom of the world, the dome at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station was deconstructed this austral summer.

    Unusual Antarctic microbes live life on a previously unsuspected edge

    An unmapped reservoir of briny liquid chemically similar to sea water, but buried under an inland Antarctic glacier, appears to support unusual microbial life in a place where cold, darkness and lack of oxygen would previously have led scientists to believe nothing could survive, according to newly published research.

    New evidence from NSF-funded ANDRILL demonstrates climate warming affects Antarctic ice sheet stability

    A five-nation scientific team has published new evidence that even a slight rise in atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, one of the gases that drives global warming, affects the stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS). The massive WAIS covers the continent on the Pacific side of the Transantarctic Mountains. Any substantial melting of the ice sheet would cause a rise in global sea levels.

    On April 6, the National Academy of Sciences and NSF jointly host a celebration of the early research accomplishments of the International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008. IPY fieldwork, a two-year deployment of scientists from more than 60 nations into the polar regions, officially concluded on March 1, 2009, but science results from IPY-funded research can be expected to be published for many months and even years to come. For the full story, see:

    Microbes Thrive Under Glacier--An unmapped reservoir of briny liquid chemically similar to sea water, but buried under an inland Antarctic glacier, appears to support unusual microbial life in a place where cold, darkness and lack of oxygen would previously have led scientists to believe nothing could survive. For the full story, see:

    Space Weather Observatories--An international scientific consortium has successfully developed a series of autonomous observatories in Antarctica that for the first time provide critical year-round "space weather" data from the Earth's harshest environment. For the full story, see:

    Carbon-Dioxide Levels and Ice-sheet Stability--A five-nation scientific team has published new evidence that even a slight rise in atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, one of the gases that drives global warming, affects the stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS). The massive WAIS covers the continent on the Pacific side of the Transantarctic Mountains. Any substantial melting of the ice sheet would cause a rise in global sea levels. For the full story, see:

    Autosub Launched--A team of British and American scientists successfully deploys an autonomous robot submarine on six missions beneath an Antarctic ice shelf using sonar scanners to map the seabed and the underside of the ice as it juts out over the sea. The research is part of a larger, NSF-funded project to study the dynamic Pine Island Glacier and to understand how increasing ocean temperatures triggered by a warming climate may affect the melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) and global sea-level rise. For the full story, see:

    Antarctic Treaty Events--The Maryland Science Center in Baltimore is the focal point of a range of public events April 4 and 5 that highlight federally funded Arctic and Antarctic research programs. The public events are being held in conjunction with a meeting on the international treaty governing international cooperation and scientific research in Antarctica. For the full story, see:

    Peninsula Warming--Scientists have long established that the Antarctic Peninsula is one of the most rapidly warming spots on Earth. Now, new research using detailed satellite data indicates that the changing climate is affecting not just the penguins at the apex of the food chain, but simultaneously the microscopic life that is the base of the ecosystem. For the full story, see:

    Mountain Range Under the Ice--Flying twin-engine light aircraft the equivalent of several trips around the globe and establishing a network of seismic instruments across an area the size of Texas, a U.S.-led, international team of scientists verified the existence of a mountain range that is suspected to have caused the massive East Antarctic Ice Sheet to form and created a detailed picture of the rugged landscape buried under more than four kilometers (2.5 miles) of ice. For the full story, see:

    New Balloon Flight-tested--NSF and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) successfully launch and demonstrate a newly designed super pressure balloon prototype that will one day enable a new era of high-altitude scientific research. The super-pressure balloon is expected to ultimately carry large scientific experiments to the brink of space for 100 days or more. For the full story, see:

    Antarctic Fossils--NSF-funded scientists working in an ice-free region of Antarctica discover the last traces of tundra-in the form of fossilized plants and insects--on the interior of the southernmost continent before temperatures began a relentless drop millions of years ago. For the full story, see:

    Continental Connection--A lone granite boulder found against all odds high atop a glacier in Antarctica may provide additional key evidence to support a theory that parts of the southernmost continent once were connected to North America hundreds of millions of years ago. For the full story, see:

    Glacial Earthquakes--New research that integrates seismic recordings with Global Positioning System (GPS) measurements indicates that a 7,000-square-mile region of the Whillians Ice Stream in West Antarctica moves more than two feet twice every day in an earthquake-like pattern equivalent to a Magnitude 7 temblor. For the full story, see:

    New Antarctic Ice Core--NSF-funded researchers closed out the inaugural season on an unprecedented, multi-year effort to retrieve the most detailed record of greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere over the past 100,000 years. Working as part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide (WAIS Divide) Ice Core Project, the team recovered a 580-meter (1,900-foot) ice core--the first section of what is hoped to be a 3,465-meter (11,360-foot) column of ice detailing 100,000 years of Earth's climate history. For the full story, see:

    New South Pole Station Dedicated--The United States dedicated a new scientific station at the geographic South Pole--the third since 1957--officially ushering in a new support system for sophisticated large-scale experiments in disciplines ranging from astrophysics to environmental chemistry and seismology. The dedication of the new Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station took place on Jan. 12. For the full story, see:

    Scientific Balloons Achieve Flight Record--NSF and NASA jointly achieve a new milestone in the almost 20-year history of scientific ballooning in Antarctica, by launching and operating three long-duration sub-orbital flights within a single Southern-Hemisphere summer. For the full story, see

    New Satellite Map of Antarctica--Three federal agencies and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) unveiled a uniquely detailed and scientifically accurate satellite mosaic map of Antarctica that is expected to become a standard geographic reference and will give both scientists and the general public an unmatched tool for studying the southernmost continent. For the full story, see:

    Lunar Habitat Tested--NSF and NASA used the Antarctic's frigid, harsh, isolated landscape to test a new architecture for astronaut housing on the moon. The agencies sent a prototype inflatable habitat to the southernmost continent to see how the habitat stands up to a year of use. For the full story, see:

    Climatologists Honored--Two NSF-funded scientists, a U.S. Antarctic Program glaciologist and a recipient of the National Medal of Science, received the Lowell Thomas Award from the New York-based Explorers Club in recognition of their work at the frontiers of climate research. For the full story, see:

    Glaciers Contribution to Sea Level Rise--Ice loss from glaciers and ice caps is expected to cause more global sea rise during this century than the massive Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, according to a University of Colorado at Boulder study. For the full story, see:

    Antarctic Icebergs: Unlikely Oases for Ocean Life--According to a paper published in Science magazine, scientists have discovered that these floating ice islands--some as large as a dozen miles across--have a major impact on the ecology of the ocean around them, serving as "hotspots" for ocean life, with thriving communities of seabirds above and a web of phytoplankton, krill and fish below. For the full story, see:

    Lakes Buried Under Antarctic Ice Sheet--NSF should work within the environmental framework of the international Antarctic Treaty system to develop a global scientific consensus on minimally disruptive ways to investigate one of the "last unexplored places on Earth"--a unique system of lakes, and the aquatic systems that may connect them, buried thousands of meters under the Antarctic ice sheet. For the full story, see:

    Completion of South Pole Telescope--Just days before nations around the world were set to begin a coordinated global research campaign called the International Polar Year, scientists at the South Pole aimed a massive new telescope at Jupiter and successfully collected the instrument's first test observations. For the full story, see:

    Juvenile Fossil Plesiosaur Found--Amid 70-mile-an-hour winds and freezing Antarctic conditions, an American-Argentine research team recovered the well-preserved fossil skeleton of a juvenile plesiosaur--a marine reptile that swam the waters of the Southern Ocean roughly 70 million years ago. The fossil remains represent one of the most-complete plesiosaur skeletons ever found. For the full story, see:

    Antarctic Snowfall Unchanged in 50 Years--The most precise record of Antarctic snowfall ever generated shows there has been no real increase in precipitation over the southernmost continent in the past half-century, even though most computer models assessing global climate change call for an increase in Antarctic precipitation as atmospheric temperatures rise. For the full story, see:

    South Pole Supply Missions-A four-year project to test the possibility of transporting scientific equipment and material by ground from a field station located on Antarctica's coastal edge to another deep in the continent's center ended in success. The NSF convoy returned to McMurdo Station on Jan. 14, after logging more than 2,056 miles (3,300-kilometers) during its round trip. For the full story, see:

    Penguin Microevolution--By comparing the genetic code retrieved from 6,000-year-old remains of Adelie penguins in Antarctica with that of modern Adelies living at the same site as their ancestors, an international team of researchers has shown that microevolution, the process of evolutionary change at or below the species level, has taken place in the population. They also speculate that the remarkable lack of genetic differentiation among Adelie populations from around Antarctica may have been prompted by changes in migration patterns caused by giant icebergs. For the full story, see:

    Martian Meteorite--NSF-funded researchers uncover a new Martian meteorite in Antarctica. A field party from the U.S. Antarctic Search for Meteorites program (ANSMET) found the new specimen on Dec. 15, 2003, on an icefield in the Miller Range of the Transantarctic Mountains, roughly 750 kilometers (466 miles) from the South Pole. This 715.2 gram (1.5 pound) black rock, officially designated MIL 03346, was one of 1358 meteorites collected by ANSMET during the 2003-2004 austral summer. For the full story, see:

    Lake Vostok--NSF-funded scientists develop the first-ever map of water depth in Lake Vostok, which lies between 3,700 and 4,300 meters (more than 2 miles) below the continental Antarctic ice sheet. The new comprehensive measurements of the lake--roughly the size of North America's Lake Ontario--indicate it is divided into two distinct basins that may have different water chemistry and other characteristics. The findings have important implications for the diversity of microbial life in Lake Vostok and provide a strategy for how scientists study the lake&rsquos different ecosystems should international scientific consensus approve exploration of the pristine and ancient environment. For the full story, see:

    Undersea Volcano--Scientists working in the stormy and inhospitable waters off the Antarctic Peninsula find what they believe is an active and previously unknown volcano on the sea bottom. The international science team from the United States and Canada mapped and sampled the ocean floor and collected video and data that indicate a major volcano exists on the Antarctic continental shelf, they announced in a May 5 dispatch from the NSF's research vessel Laurence M. Gould. For the full story, see:

    Dinosaurs--Against incredible odds, researchers working in separate sites, thousands of miles apart in Antarctica find what they believe are the fossilized remains of two species of dinosaurs previously unknown to science. One of the two finds, which were made less than a week apart, is an early carnivore that would have lived many millions of years after the other, a plant-eating beast, roamed the Earth.

    Climate--Steven D. Emslie, of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, publishes results of his NSF-funded research indicating that a previously unnoticed cooling trend that persisted for a millennium caused enough ice to build up in Antarctica's Ross Sea that thousands of Adelie penguins abandoned their colonies beginning about 2,000 years ago. His techniques, he says, can also help to refine our understanding of climatic change on the southernmost continent. For the full story, see:

    2003 -- Data collected by a new seismic observatory at NSF's Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station indicate that it is the quietest listening post on the planet for observing shudders produced by earthquakes around the world as they vibrate through the Earth. The South Pole Remote Earth Science Observatory (SPRESO) is located eight kilometers (five miles) from the South Pole and the new seismometers were installed roughly 300 meters (1000 feet) beneath the surface of the continental East Antarctic ice sheet in specially drilled boreholes. For the full story, see:

    2002 -- NSF-supported researchers drilling into Lake Vida, an Antarctic "ice-block" lake, find the lake isn't really an ice block at all. In the December issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team reveals that Lake Vida may represent a previously unknown ecosystem, a frigid, "ice-sealed," lake that contains the thickest non-glacial lake ice cover on Earth and water seven times saltier than seawater. Because of the arid, chilled environment in which it resides, scientists believe the lake may be an important template for the search for evidence of ancient microbial life on Mars and other icy worlds. For the full story, see:

    -- Using a powerful new instrument at the South Pole, a team of cosmologists produces the most detailed images of the early Universe ever recorded. The information was assembled from measurements of the subtle temperature differences in the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation. The CMB is the remnant radiation that escaped from the rapidly cooling Universe about 400,000 years after the Big Bang. The new results provided additional evidence to support the currently favored model of the universe in which 30 percent of all energy is a strange form of dark matter that doesn't interact with light and 65 percent is in an even stranger form of dark energy that appears to be causing the expansion of the universe to accelerate. Only the remaining five percent of the energy in the Universe takes the form of familiar matter like that which makes up planets and stars. For the full story, see:

    -- The movements of two gigantic Antarctic icebergs appear to have dramatically reduced the number of Emperor penguins living and breeding in a colony at Cape Crozier, according to two NSF-funded researchers who visited the site. The colony is one of the first ever visited by human beings early in the 20th century. For the full story, see:

    -- In a paper published in the journal Nature, Robin E. Bell, an NSF-funded researcher at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, and her colleagues argue that the hydrodynamics of Lake Vostok, a subglacial lake deep in the Antarctic interior, may make it possible to search for evidence of life in the layers of ice that accumulate on the lake's eastern shore. Scientists say such a possibility would provide another avenue for exploring the lake's potential as a harbor of microscopic life, in addition to actually exploring the waters of the lake itself. Lake Vostok is thought to be one of the world's largest, 48 kilometers (30 miles) wide by 225 kilometers (140 miles) long and 914 meters (3,000 feet) deep. Its waters have been sealed from air and light for perhaps as long as 35 million years under the tremendous pressure of the continental ice sheet. For the full story, see:

    -- Doug MacAyeal, an NSF-funded researcher at the University of Chicago, lands on iceberg B-15A, perhaps for the final time, to update weather station information that will allow scientists to track the gyrations of the berg and its microclimate. MacAyeal notes that collisions between the berg and a smaller, but still sizeable berg, dubbed C-16, will probably cause B-15A to break up. Data previously collected on the icebergs' movements have helped scientists to understand what propels icebergs as they move along the ice shelf and eventually out to sea. For the full story, see:

    2001 -- An eight-member team at NSF's McMurdo Station equipped Weddell seals with cameras and data recorders, providing a rare glimpse into the habits of two very important Southern Ocean species, the Antarctic silverfish and the Antarctic toothfish, which is prized by commercial fishing fleets. Their methods could have wider applications for studying other species that thrive at great depths. For the full news release, see

    -- Peter Doran of the University of Illinois at Chicago argues in a Nature paper on behalf of researchers with NSF's (NSF) Long-term Ecological Research (LTER) site in Antarctica's Dry Valleys that long-term data from weather stations across the continent, coupled with a separate set of measurements from the Dry Valleys, confirm that Antarctica overall has cooled measurably during the last 35 years. For the full news release, see

    -- NSF-funded scientist David Ainley finds that enormous grounded icebergs and an unprecedented amount of sea ice in Antarctica's Ross Sea combined to nearly isolate one of the continent's most populous Adelie penguin colonies. At the same time, NSF-funded researcher Gerald Kooyman discovers that the icebergs' presence also caused a small colony of Emperor penguins to fail to reproduce. For the full news release, see

    -- A team of authors, including John Priscu, an NSF-funded researcher at Montana State University, argue in a paper published in Nature that liquid lakes buried thousands of meters below the Antarctic ice sheet are likely the home to unique habitats and creatures that thrive in them. They also note that exploration of those lakes will require extreme care and international cooperative effort. For the full news release, see

    -- Two teams of cosmologists release spectacular images of the cosmic microwave background (CMB), taken with instruments operating from Antarctica, that reveal the strongest evidence to date for the theory of inflation, the leading model for the formation of the universe. For the full news release, see

    -- NSF-funded researchers install monitors on one of the largest icebergs ever to break away from the Ross Ice Shelf, to track its microclimate and movements.

    2000 -- Balloon-borne instruments provide first detailed images of the early universe.

    -- Evidence is discovered of microbes that can survive the extremes of darkness, cold, and ultraviolet radiation at the South Pole.

    -- Studies show that diverse marine mammals employ the same physiological mechanism to dive to great depths.

    1999 -- Four new fish species are found in Antarctic waters, giving biologists new insights into the processes of evolution in ecological niches.

    -- Research shows that microorganisms can survive in subglacial Lake Vostok, thousands of meters below the Antarctic ice cap.

    1998 -- Measurements show that possible instabilities in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet could increase its discharge, raising world sea level more rapidly than at present.

    1996 -- A meteorite collected in Antarctica is confirmed to have come from Mars and offers possible evidence for ancient primitive Martian life.

    1994 -- Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station provides images of the crash of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 into Jupiter.

    1992 -- An estimated six to 12 percent reduction in Antarctic marine primary production is reported as a result of increases in ultra violet radiation from the Antarctic "ozone hole."

    1991 -- Fossil of 25-ft-long dinosaur discovered 350 miles from the South Pole proves dinosaurs were on every continent.

    1988 -- Sea-floor drilling shows that a much larger Antarctic ice sheet existed 35 million years ago.

    1986 -- Research at McMurdo Station, the main U.S. scientific station in Antarctica, establishes chlorofluorocarbons as the probable cause of the Antarctic ozone hole.

    1984 -- At the South Pole, a sensitive ground-based detector records the largest solar cosmic ray event since 1956.

    1982 -- A fossil mammal discovered on Seymour Island proves Antarctica and South America were connected as recently as 40 million years ago.