New technology enables images of the moon to be captured with unprecedented accuracy

Radar waves manage to capture the exact location where Apollo 15 landed in 1971. (Sophia Dagnello, NRAO / GBO / Raytheon / AUI / NSF / USGS) in amazing detail.

Powerful new spatial image capture tool nThis gave you the opportunity to explore where Apollo 15 landed in stunning detail, The ninth manned mission to fly to the moon, which was launched in 1971.

To obtain the images, the device bounces a strong radar signal on the surface of the moon. This new tool achieved unprecedented accuracy, being able to display objects up to 5 meters in size.

Made for The Greenbank Telescope in West Virginia by Raytheon Intelligence & Space, This proof-of-concept technology paves the way for more powerful radar images in the future, which could allow scientists to study things as far as Neptune.

Radar images of the moon are not a new idea. It is a very useful tool for detecting fine structures on the surface, and at longer wavelengths, even searching more than 10 meters below the surface to notice differences in regolith density (here on the ground, this technique can help us find buried debris).

The moon is seen in the sky during the closest visible conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in 400 years, in Tejeda, on the island of Gran Canaria, Spain, December 21, 2020 (Reuters / Borja Suarez) The moon is seen in the sky during the closest visible conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in 400 years, in Tejeda, on the island of Gran Canaria, Spain, December 21, 2020 (Reuters / Borja Suarez)

But the Greenbank Observatory, the National Observatory of Radio Astronomy, and Raytheon for Intelligence and Space They are trying to push the technology even further.

During a test in November last year, the new transmitter sent a radar signal to the moon, specifically targeting the Apollo 15 landing site, a small patch of the moon, 3,474.2 kilometers (2,158.8 miles) in diameter, in the hundreds of thousands. Of kilometers. Instrument.

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This signal was collected, once retrieved, by Too long core matrix; A group of radio telescopes in the United States essentially combines to create a continent-sized assembly plate.

The result is the image below, which shows an indentation at the top that corresponds to a lunar crater called Hadley Sea, which is about four miles wide. On the winding side is the Hadley River, which scientists believe is a collapsed lava tube.

This image shows the Hadley Sea crater, which is about four miles wide, and next to it is meandering, the Hadley River, which scientists believe is a collapsed lava tube.  (NRAO / GBO / Raytheon / NSF / AUI) This image shows the Hadley Sea crater, which is about four miles wide, and next to it is meandering, the Hadley River, which scientists believe is a collapsed lava tube. (NRAO / GBO / Raytheon / NSF / AUI)

While the level of detail is indeed impressive, what happens in the future is more promising and more prominent. With these tests successful, the team will work on a more powerful transmitter: a high-powered 500-kilowatt radar system that allows them to see more detail.

This tool will be useful for all kinds of science. We can see our moon up close, of course. We can see the moons of other planets. It can even be used to photograph asteroids and space debris, which are too dim to be seen with optical telescopes, but we can explore them using radar technology.

The moon in the sky as seen from Earth (EFE / Jodson Alves / File) The moon in the sky from Earth (. / Jodson Alves / File)

This can help us better understand groups of objects, whether natural or man-made, in near-Earth space, which in turn can help defend planets against potentially dangerous objects.

“The planned system will be a leap forward in radar science, allowing unprecedented features of the solar system to be accessed from here on Earth,” said site manager Karen O’Neill of the Greenbank Observatory.

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