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Earth’s natural satellite—the Moon—is currently under observation by the NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft.  The Astrogeology science team is involved in a number of studies featuring the LRO Camera, which is obtaining hundreds of terabytes of high-resolution (0.5–2 m/pixel) images of the Moon’s surface; the DIVINER infrared imaging spectrometer; and the Mini-RF radar system, which produces 7.5 m/pixel views inside the permanently shadowed polar craters where ice may be found.  Controlled mosaics of the optical and radar images produced by Astrogeology are the largest products of these types in the history of lunar exploration. Astrogeology scientists are playing a leading role in cataloging and interpreting the diversity of explosive volcanic features on the Moon, some of which could contain high concentrations of materials useful for future astronauts. Several previously unrecognized small lunar volcanoes have been identified recently, suggesting that these kinds of eruptions were much more common on the Moon than earlier believed.



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Lisa Gaddis
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