LAMP Reveals Lunar Surface Features

New maps produced by the Lyman Alpha Mapping Project aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter reveal features at the Moon’s northern and southern poles in regions that lie in perpetual darkness. LAMP, developed by Southwest Research Institute, uses a novel method to peer into these so-called permanently shadowed regions (PSRs), making visible the invisible. The LAMP maps show that many PSRs are darker at far-ultraviolet wavelengths and redder than nearby surface areas that receive sunlight. The darker regions are consistent with large surface porosities, indicating “fluffy” soils, while the reddening is consistent with the presence of water frost on the surface.

Earth Makes Closest Approach to Sun

The orbital milestone is known as perihelion, and it marks the time when the distance between the Earth and the sun is at its smallest. The event occurs every year in early January, and in 2012 it took place on January 4 at 8 p.m. EST. On average, the Earth orbits the sun at a distance of about 93 million miles (150 million kilometers).

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