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Solar System Exploration
Gravity Map of the Moon
Gravity Map of the Moon (click to enlarge)

Gravity Map of the Moon
Date: 1 Jan 1998

Pictured here is a gravity map of the Moon made by the Lunar Prospector spacecraft in 1998-99.

Mascons are shown in orange-red. The finding of mascons on the Moon in the late 1960s changed scientists ideas about the interior structure of the Moon.

The five largest mascons all correspond to the largest lava-filled craters or lunar "seas" visible in binoculars on the near side of the Moon: Mare Imbrium, Mare Serenitatus, Mare Crisium, Mare Humorum, and Mare Nectaris.

What Scientists/Engineers Say About This Image:

"The most exciting planetary finding for me was the discovery of mascons on the Moon and Mars with my colleague, Paul Muller; for it changed geologists and geophysicists' ideas about the interior structure of these bodies. Gravity highs were supposed to be in the mountains and highlands, and not in the lowlands or large basins with depressed topography -- a completely new phenomenon. Many new ideas emerged to explain these results. "

William Sjogren: Senior Research Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Last Update: 8 Mar 2012 (AMB)

Credit: Alex S. Konopliv et al, Icarus 150, 1-18 (2001)

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Last Updated: 12 Oct 2012