Improved Gravity Field of the Moon from Lunar Prospector

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Science  04 Sep 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5382, pp. 1476-1480
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5382.1476


An improved gravity model from Doppler tracking of the Lunar Prospector (LP) spacecraft reveals three new large mass concentrations (mascons) on the nearside of the moon beneath the impact basins Mare Humboltianum, Mendel-Ryberg, and Schiller-Zucchius, where the latter basin has no visible mare fill. Although there is no direct measurement of the lunar farside gravity, LP partially resolves four mascons in the large farside basins of Hertzsprung, Coulomb-Sarton, Freundlich-Sharonov, and Mare Moscoviense. The center of each of these basins contains a gravity maximum relative to the surrounding basin. The improved normalized polar moment of inertia (0.3932 ± 0.0002) is consistent with an iron core with a radius of 220 to 450 kilometers.

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