(ORDO NEWS) — The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has revealed for the first time extraordinary images of the ancient Shackleton Crater, located at the lunar south pole. These photographs, taken using the unique ShadowCam camera, provide a never-before-seen look at an area that has remained in darkness for billions of years.
Shackleton Crater on the Moon
Shackleton Crater has long been known to astronomers as one of the most mysterious areas of our neighbor in space. Located in the mountainous part of the Moon‘s south pole, the region can be seen when light hits its highest ridges and peaks, leaving the rest in darkness.
This creates a unique environment called “cold traps” where water or ice can potentially exist in a frozen state.
However, now, thanks to the ShadowCam camera launched into orbit by the Korean lunar satellite in August 2022, we can finally look at this mysterious area in detail. The ShadowCam was found to be more sensitive to light in shadowed areas than any other lunar camera, allowing it to see even the darkest and most inaccessible parts of the Moon.
ShadowCam: A look into the dark side of the Moon
Researchers say Shackleton Crater represents an unexplored world. In this area, where temperatures drop to -173°C, water ice is likely to be present. If there are hidden reserves of water or ice in the area, they may hold clues to the origins of our Moon.
Importantly, astronomers in China plan to send a mini-flying probe to Shackleton Crater in 2026 to drill for evidence of lunar water ice. NASA is relying on its ShadowCam camera, which allows you to peer into the eternal darkness.
The specially developed ShadowCam device, which is now showing its first images, allows us to take a different look at our neighbor. Each image captured by this camera allows astronomers to study both the brightest and darkest parts of the Moon in more detail. By combining images from ShadowCam and other lunar cameras, analysts can create visual maps of the Moon’s terrain and geology.
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