Feeds

Highest point on the Moon found: Higher than Mount Everest

NASA probe-sat zeroes in on meteor lava eminence

The essential guide to IT transformation

Space boffins say they have identified the highest point on the Moon, and that it stands higher above the lunar surface than the summit of Mount Everest does above Earth's.

The highest point on the Moon. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

Top o' the moon, ma

According to Mark Robinson, chief of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) camera team:

The highest point on the Earth is at the summit of Mount Everest, which is 8,848 meters (29,029 feet) above sea level. The lunar high point is 1938 meters higher than that of the Earth!

The selenean summit was identified using an instrument known as the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) also mounted on the moon-circling LRO satellite. As the LRO sweeps along just 30 miles above the lunar surface (it can orbit so low due to the lack of any atmosphere) the LOLA laser generates a record of the peaks and troughs beneath.

Once the LOLA had identified the lunar highpoint's general vicinity, an allied team of boffins in charge of the spacecraft's camera took over for the final precision fix.

Once the LOLA team had the spot narrowed down to a small area, the LROC team commanded a NAC stereo pair (12 August 2010) to get an even higher resolution measurement of the elevation and coordinates of the highest point. Once the stereo pair was on the ground, the LROC team processed the images into a digital elevation model (DEM), or topographic map.

Though it is actually higher than the peak of Mount Everest, as the photo shows the moon's topmost spot is far less dramatic - more in the nature of a high plain or plateau, with the ground sloping away around it at no more than 3° according to Robinson (apart from impact craters). It lies near the Engel'gardt crater on the fringe of the Korolev plain, on the lunar far side. Robinson considers that it was probably formed by ejecta - molten rock - piled up during the cataclysmic South Pole-Aitken meteor impact over four billion years ago.

The LRO was launched back when NASA was still expecting to send humans back to the Moon in the near future, and perhaps to establish permanent inhabited bases there. Thus it was of the first importance to thoroughly map the surface, in order to avoid hairy landings into the unknown like those made by the early Apollo astronauts.

Though President Obama has now decreed that there will be no return to the Moon, the LRO has still made many interesting discoveries. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN Kickstarter push breaks TWELVE THOUSAND POUNDS
That's right, folks, you've stumped up OVER 9000 beer tokens - and counting
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?