The Earhart crater, a previously unknown lunar crater, is outlined in the magenta dash circle. A team of researchers at Purdue University found the crater through an analysis of data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory mission. The team provisionally named the crater Earhart, after the famous aviator Amelia Earhart. (Purdue University image/courtesy of Rohan Sood)

The Earhart crater, a previously unknown lunar crater, is outlined in the magenta dash circle. A team of researchers at Purdue University found the crater through an analysis of data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory mission. The team provisionally named the crater Earhart, after the famous aviator Amelia Earhart. (Purdue University image/courtesy of Rohan Sood)

THE WOODLANDS, Texas – You would think the battered Moon doesn’t need one more crater.

But thanks to data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission, a massive crater has been found, provisionally named the crater Earhart after the famous aviator Amelia Earhart.

A team from Purdue University has been testing a new technique that sharpens the GRAIL data to see smaller-scale features, like ridges and valleys. Diving into the data, they noticed an unusual circular feature, said Rohan Sood, a graduate student in Purdue’s School of Aeronautics and Astronautics who worked on the project.

Note: Go to the aeronautics and astronautics master’s program homepage (the department with which Mr. Sood is affiliated: https://engineering.purdue.edu/ProEd/programs/masters-degrees/aeronautics-astronautics

Sood presented the findings being held here March 16-20, here at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.

Zooming in

The crater discovered is 124-miles wide.

“The feature turned out to be the rim of an ancient crater, but it was so big we did not even recognize it as that at first,” Sood said. “We were zoomed in on one little piece of it. We first tried to model it as a small crater, but we had to go bigger and bigger and bigger to match what the data was telling us.”

More discoveries ahead?

The Purdue group plans to extend the search to the entire Moon to reveal other buried craters and small-scale features beneath the surface.

That search could uncover underground tunnels formed by lava flows — called lava tubes – that have been proposed as a possible shelter for human habitats on the Moon.

Crater Earhart is the provisional name as names of planetary features must be submitted and approved by The International Astronomical Union.

Famous aviator Amelia Earhart.

Famous aviator Amelia Earhart.

Notable alumni at Purdue include astronauts Neil Armstrong, Gus Grissom, and Eugene Cernan.Earhart was a Purdue career counselor and adviser to the Department of Aeronautics from 1935-1937.

Purdue is also home to the world’s largest compilation of Earhart-related papers, memorabilia and artifacts.

The collection includes documents related to Earhart’s 1932 solo Atlantic flight, her second and fatal attempt at a world flight in 1937, and items related to her time at Purdue.

 

 

One Response to “Crater Earhart: New Moon Feature Found”

  • There are some attention-grabbing cut-off dates in this article however I don’t know if I see all of them middle to heart. There’s some validity but I will take hold opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we wish more! Added to FeedBurner as effectively

Leave a Reply