Lunar south pole

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Lunar south pole as imaged by Clementine.

The lunar south pole is of special interest to scientists because of the postulated occurrence of ice in permanently shadowed areas. Of the lunar poles, the south pole is of greater interest because the area that remains in shadow is much larger than that at the north pole.[1] The lunar south pole craters are unique in that sunlight does not reach the bottom. Such craters are cold traps that contain a fossil record of the early solar system.[2]


Lunar south pole as imaged by Diviner.

The rotational axis of the Moon lies within Shackleton Crater. Notable craters nearest to the lunar south pole include De Gerlache, Sverdrup, Shoemaker, Faustini, Haworth, Nobile and Cabeus.


Lunar south pole map.

Spacecraft from several countries have explored the lunar south pole. Extensive studies were conducted by the Lunar Orbiter, Clementine, Lunar Prospector, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, Kaguya, and Chandrayaan. NASA's LCROSS mission found a significant amount of water in Cabeus.[3]


Future planned exploration of the Lunar south pole includes a private mission by Shackleton Energy Company, no earlier than 2016. Shackleton intends to land a robotic precursor exploration rover to "identify and characterize the nature, composition and locations of the optimum ice concentrations at the north and Lunar south pole craters".[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "South Pole Region of the Moon as Seen by Clementine". NASA. June 3, 1996. Retrieved March 4, 2010. 
  2. ^ "NASA Takes Aim at Moon with Double Sledgehammer". February 27, 2008. Retrieved March 4, 2010. 
  3. ^ Chang, Kenneth (November 13, 2009). "LCROSS Mission Finds Water on Moon, NASA Scientists Say". The New York Times. Retrieved March 4, 2010. 
  4. ^ Shackleton Energy's cislunar economic development plans David Livingston interview with James Keravala, The Space Show, 14 Dec 2012, at 55:25-57:40, accessed 2012-12-22.

External links[edit]