Hundreds of craters on the moon identified

09:36, Jun 18 2013

Researchers at Western Australia's Curtin University say they have potentially identified hundreds of previously-unmapped craters on the moon.

The research team used a combination of satellite-collected gravity and terrain modelling to develop an ultra-high resolution gravity map of the moon, identifying what could be 280 lunar craters never mapped before.

They said 66 of those were categorised as distinctly visible from both a gravity and topographic perspective.

Professor Will Featherstone said computer modelling of the lunar gravity and topography data removed regional features to reveal more detailed basins that would otherwise be obscured using other techniques.

The work initially focused on the identification of two basins on the lunar far side, but was extended to cover the whole moon, Prof Featherstone said.

"The dark side of the moon is particularly challenging because moon-orbiting satellites cannot be tracked from earth when they are over the far side," he said.

Professor Featherstone said the team was optimistic about further discoveries after applying their techniques to new gravity data collected by NASA's GRAIL mission, which ceased when the two satellites - named Ebb and Flow - were deliberately crashed on the moon in December 2012.

The Curtin research team has also developed an ultra-high resolution gravity map of Mars.