The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has released a new set of images of the surface of the Moon. The images, showing impact craters on the Moon surface, were captured by the Dual Frequency-Synthetic Aperture Radar (DF-SAR) on its Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter, the space agency said in a post on Twitter.
According to ISRO, the Moon has been continuously bombarded by meteorites, asteroids and comets since its formation. This has resulted in the formation of innumerable impact craters that form the most distinct geographic features on its surface.
#ISRO#Chandrayaan2's DF-SAR is designed to produce greater details about the morphology and ejecta materials of impact craters on the lunar surface. Have a look of initial images and observations made by DF-SARISRO (@isro) October 22, 2019
For more details please visit: https://t.co/1j7SBcXIplpic.twitter.com/SEHukoYJMV
Impact craters are circular depressions on the surface of the Moon. These include small, simple, bowl-shaped depressions to large, complex, multi-ringed impact basins.
"In contrast to volcanic craters, which result from explosion or internal collapse, impact craters typically have raised rims and floors that are lower in elevation than the surrounding terrain," ISRO said.
The study of the nature, size, distribution and composition of impact craters and associated ejecta - the material that gets thrown out on an impact - features reveal valuable information about the origin and evolution of craters.
According to ISRO, weathering processes result in many of the crater physical features and ejecta material get covered by layers of regolith (sand, dust, loose rock and soil over a hard surface) making some of them undetectable using optical cameras.
The space agency said the Synthetic Aperture Radar is a powerful remote-sensing instrument for studying planetary surfaces and sub-surfaces, due to its ability to penetrate the surface. It is also sensitive to the roughness, structure and composition of the surface material and the buried terrain.
Previous lunar-orbiting SAR systems - such as the S-band hybrid-polarimetric on ISRO's Chandrayaan-1 and the S & X-band hybrid-polarimetric on NASA's LRO - provided valuable data on the scattering characterisation of ejecta materials of lunar impact craters, ISRO said.
However, the L & S band SAR on Chandraayan-2 is designed to produce greater details about the morphology and ejecta materials of impact craters due to its ability of imaging with higher resolution (2 - 75m slant range) and full-polarimetric modes in standalone as well as joint modes in the S and L bands with a wide range of incidence angle coverage (9.5 degrees-35 degrees).
In addition, the greater depth of penetration of the L band (3-5 meters) enables probing the buried terrain at greater depths.
The L&S band Synthetic Aperture Radar payload helps in unambiguously identifying and quantitatively estimating the lunar polar water-ice in permanently shadowed regions, ISRO said.
"Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter's DF- SAR has been operated in full-polarimetry mode- a gold standard in SAR polarimetry, and is the first-ever by any planetary SAR instrument," ISRO said.
This image presents many interesting facts about the secondary craters of different ages and origins in the lunar south polar region, the agency said.
"The yellowish tone around crater rims in the image shows ejecta fields. The distribution of ejecta fields, whether uniformly distributed in all directions or oriented towards a particular side of a crater, indicates the nature of the impact," ISRO explained.
According to ISRO, the image shows craters of vertical impact and oblique impact on the top right and the bottom right, respectively.
Similarly, the roughness of the ejecta materials associated with the impact craters indicates the degree of weathering a crater has undergone.
Three similar sized craters along a row on the bottom-right of the image show examples of young crater, moderately weathered crater and an old degraded crater.
Many of the ejecta fields seen in the image are not visible in high-resolution optical image over the same region, indicating the ejecta fields are buried beneath regolith layers.