When I first saw the words microwave and moon in a sentence, I thought of dinner – not about the very first microwave map of the entire moon. That was a shame, because the latter is actually a great achievement:
The first complete microwave image of the Moon taken by Chinese lunar satellite Chang’E-1 has been revealed. Chang’E-1 is China’s first scientific mission to explore planetary bodies beyond Earth and the on-board Lunar Microwave Radiometer has made it possible for the first time to globally map the Moon in microwave frequencies.
Radar observations of the Moon are unable to provide thermal information, and microwave observations taken from Earth cannot reach the far side of the moon. So Chang’E-1’s (CE-1) orbit was conducted at an altitude of 200km (124 miles) and allowed it to observe every location of the moon with a nadir view and at high spatial resolution.
Basically, this map gives us more detail than ever before and might even help “estimate distribution and amount of helium 3 which has been suggested as a nuclear fuel for in-situ fusion energy production in possible future human settlements on the moon”. [GizMag via Wired UK]