SMART-1's dancing shadows at lunar north pole

31 October 2005

These images, taken by the Advanced Moon Micro-Imager Experiment (AMIE) on board ESA’s SMART-1 spacecraft, shows interesting variations in shadows at the lunar north pole.

SMART-1 view of possible 'peaks of eternal light'
SMART-1 view of possible 'peaks of eternal light'

SMART-1 has been monitoring the variations of illumination in the polar areas during lunar rotation.

AMIE obtained the top image on 29 December 2004 from a distance of about 5500 kilometres. It shows an area of about 275 kilometres across close to the lunar nearside north pole (top left corner), with craters Byrd (upper left), Gioja (centre) and Main (bottom right).

Long shadows are projected by rim features towards the inside of the large Byrd crater.

The second image of the same area was taken on 19 January 2005 from the same altitude and shows how the winter shadows vary at this location due to crater rims and topography. Here the shadows are projected from a different direction and Gioja crater is almost completely dark.

Note that the top image was obtained with AMIE clear channel, while the bottom image was obtained through the colour filtered part of the AMIE CCD.

For more information:

Bernard H. Foing, ESA SMART-1 Project Scientist
E-mail: bernard.foing @

A review of SMART-1 results was discussed in the context of future missions, at the International Lunar Conference in Toronto, 18-23 September 2005, organised by the International Lunar Exploration Working Group (

Copyright 2000 - 2018 © European Space Agency. All rights reserved.