UCL News


Mapping the Moon

2 December 2003

PhD student Ms Katherine Joy (Earth Sciences) has been awarded a studentship to work on the first-ever global map of the Moon in x-rays, providing a valuable dataset for both the UK and international planetary community.

Ms Katherine Joy will create a map of the moon The map will be compiled from data retrieved by a D-CIXS (demonstration of a compact x-ray spectroscope) currently heading towards a lunar orbit as part of the European Space Agency's SMART-1 mission to the Moon. Once in its polar elliptical orbit, SMART-1 will investigate lunar geochemistry.

The D-CIXS has been designed and built by the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and represents a new generation of x-ray instruments for planetary observation. Katherine and supervisor Dr Ian Crawford, from the joint Birkbeck-UCL Research School of Earth Sciences, will work with the D-CIXS team to provide a working, calibrated dataset of the Moon using lunar samples, theoretical modelling, the D-CIXS data and information from previous NASA missions.

Dr Crawford said: "The Moon is one of the most important test-beds for theories relating to the origin of planetary bodies and the Solar System as a whole. The D-CIXS will be able to provide absolute measurements of elemental abundances, especially magnesium, aluminium and silicon. This will allow for advances in several areas of lunar science, including an improved estimate of the Moon's composition and the nature of its crust."

Katherine was awarded her studentship from the Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council in the 'Cooperative Awards in Science & Engineering' category, in which recipients receive experience in industry as well as at an academic institution. She said: "This is a very exciting project, in which we hope to provide clues to some of the fundamental questions about the origin and evolution of the Moon."

To find out more about the project use the links below.


UCL Earth Sciences