Lunar Global Shape and Polar Topography Derived from Kaguya-LALT Laser Altimetry

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Science  13 Feb 2009:
Vol. 323, Issue 5916, pp. 897-900
DOI: 10.1126/science.1164146

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A global lunar topographic map with a spatial resolution of finer than 0.5 degree has been derived using data from the laser altimeter (LALT) on board the Japanese lunar explorer Selenological and Engineering Explorer (SELENE or Kaguya). In comparison with the previous Unified Lunar Control Network (ULCN 2005) model, the new map reveals unbiased lunar topography for scales finer than a few hundred kilometers. Spherical harmonic analysis of global topographic data for the Moon, Earth, Mars, and Venus suggests that isostatic compensation is the prevailing lithospheric support mechanism at large scales. However, simple rigid support is suggested to dominate for the Moon, Venus, and Mars for smaller scales, which may indicate a drier lithosphere than on Earth, especially for the Moon and Venus.

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