SMART-1 view of crater Sulpicius Gallus
European Space Agency
12 July 2006
This mosaic of three images, taken by the advanced Moon Imaging
Experiment (AMIE) on board ESA’s SMART-1 spacecraft, shows the area
close to the Sulpicius Gallus crater on the Moon.
AMIE obtained this sequence on 18 March 2006, from a distance of 1200
kilometres from the surface, with a ground resolution ranging from 110
to 114 metres per pixel.
The area shown in the top image is centred at a latitude of 19.7?
and longitude 12.2? East; the image in the middle is centred at a
latitude of 18.2? North and longitude 12.3? East; the bottom image
centred at a latitude of 16.7? North and longitude 12.5? East.
The prominent crater on the upper left area of this mosaic is called
Sulpicius Gallus. It is a fairly fresh, bowl-shaped crater with a
diameter of roughly 12 kilometres. The flat lava plains surrounding it
belong to the Mare Serenitatis (the ‘Sea of Serenity’) on the
north-eastern side of the Moon facing Earth. The mountains going
diagonally through the middle part of the mosaic are called Montes
Haemus. They are denoting the edge of the huge impact crater which
formed the Mare Serenitatis.
The area around Sulpicius Crater is very interesting for lunar
scientists - it is one of the most geologically and compositionally
complex areas of the nearside of the Moon. The geologic history of this
region has been shaped by impacts of different scales and epochs, by
volcanism of variable style and composition with time, and by limited
tectonics. Specific findings (Bell and Hawke, 1995) include the
detection of relatively fresh highlands materials in the crater.
Good spectroscopic data (that is relative to the mineralogical
composition) are available both from the Clementine mission and from
ground-based observations, allowing to better constrain the geological
evolution of our closest cosmic neighbour.
The area has been suggested to contain mixtures of glassy and black
beads generated when large impacts melted part of the lunar surface.
However, modelling the spectral properties of material similar to lunar
material does not allow to unambiguously match the composition of the
material to the measured data.
Colour observations of the AMIE camera will help in further clarifying
these issues. So, the combination of high spatial resolution imaging
high spectral resolution spectroscopy from datasets from SMART-1,
Clementine and ground based telescopes will finally allow to better
model mineral mixtures on the Moon.
Anaglyph view of Sulpicius Gallus crater
The stereo anaglyph view is composed from the set of images taken on 18
March 2006 (orbit 2083) and another one of the same area taken on the
same day, two orbits or about 10 hours later (orbit 2085), from 1200
The crater Sulpicius Gallus is named after a Roman general, state man
and orator. He is famous for having predicted an eclipse of the moon on
the night before the battle of Pydna (168 BC). A man of great learning,
in his later years he devoted himself to the study of astronomy.
For more information
Bernard H. Foing, ESA SMART-1 Project Scientist
Email: bernard.foing @ esa.int
Jean-Luc Josset, SPACE-X Space Exploration Institute
Email: jean-luc.josset @ space-x.ch