Moon map reveals titanium treasure trove

October 16th, 2011 - 3:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Hubble Space Telescope Washington, Oct 16 (IANS) A map of the moon shows a treasure trove of areas rich in titanium ores, which is helping scientists unravel the mysteries of the satellite’s interior.

“Looking up at the moon, its surface appears painted with shades of grey — at least to the human eye. But with the right instruments, the moon can appear colourful,” said Mark Robinson of Arizona State University.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) Wide Angle Camera (WAC) is imaging the surface in seven different wavelengths at a resolution of between 100 and 400 metres per pixel, to help scientists better understand moon’s chemical composition.

Robinson and his team previously developed a technique using Hubble Space Telescope images to map titanium abundances around a small area centred on the Apollo 17 landing site, according to an Arizona statement.

By comparing the Apollo data from the ground with the Hubble images, the team found that the titanium levels corresponded to the ratio of ultraviolet to visible light reflected by the lunar soils.

Robinson’s team constructed a mosaic from around 4,000 LROC WAC images collected over one month.

They used the WAC ratio of the brightness in the ultraviolet to visible light to deduce titanium abundance, backed up by surface samples gathered by Apollo and Luna missions.

“We still don’t really understand why we find much higher abundances of titanium on the Moon compared to similar types of rocks on earth,” said Robinson.

Robinson prepsented these results with Brett Denevi at the joint meeting of the European Planetary Science Congress and the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences.

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