Journey to the Bottom of the Moon

Take a ride on a lunar lander to the rim of the Shackleton Crater

Using the highest-resolution mapping data of the moon's south pole ever obtained, NASA has created an animation that shows what it would look like to descend to the rim of the Shackleton Crater—which has been proposed as a landing site for a future human mission.

NASA collected the mapping data using a radar dish in the Mojave Desert that is about three-quarters the size of a football field. From the new maps, which show features as small as a house, scientists have learned that the moon's south pole is a lot more rugged than they had realized.

"We now know the south pole has peaks as high as Mt. McKinley and crater floors four times deeper than the Grand Canyon," says Doug Cooke, deputy associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters. No wonder they need a rover with six-wheel drive.