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Gravity Field of the Moon from the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) Mission

Science  08 Feb 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6120, pp. 668-671
DOI: 10.1126/science.1231507

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Abstract

Spacecraft-to-spacecraft tracking observations from the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) have been used to construct a gravitational field of the Moon to spherical harmonic degree and order 420. The GRAIL field reveals features not previously resolved, including tectonic structures, volcanic landforms, basin rings, crater central peaks, and numerous simple craters. From degrees 80 through 300, over 98% of the gravitational signature is associated with topography, a result that reflects the preservation of crater relief in highly fractured crust. The remaining 2% represents fine details of subsurface structure not previously resolved. GRAIL elucidates the role of impact bombardment in homogenizing the distribution of shallow density anomalies on terrestrial planetary bodies.

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