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Shackleton (south pole crater)

Lat: 89.63°S, Long: 132.32°E, Diam: 21 km, Depth: km, Rükl: 73



Earth-based radar views by (left) Campbell et al. and (right) Margot et al (1999): In the LPOD image from which this has been cropped, the Earth-based radar data was re-mapped to an aerial view with the Earthward side up. Shackleton is in the lower left, with only its lower rim illuminated by the radar waves. Shoemaker (Sh) and Faustini (Fa) are to its upper right (northeast). The Moon's mean limb (+/-90° longitude), if drawn, would pass roughly through the lower part of Faustini and the upper part of Shackleton. The Moon's central meridian (line of 0° longitude) would pass through Shackleton's far left side. This places Shackleton's center on the Moon's farside with the South Pole on its upper left rim (in this view). Although Shackleton is mostly in shadow even in this view, when the Moon's pole is tipped towards us, radar waves from Earth can penetrate farther into the bowls of the craters than sunlight ever can. This is because the sunlight always comes in at a very low angle, regardless of how the pole appears to be tipped. Until recently it was thought that even a spacecraft could not see into these craters with sunlight alone, but at least one of the cameras on Kaguya was sensitive enough to do so according to a brief presentation at the Lunar & Planetary Science Conference in March 2008 (see LPOD link, below).


LPOD Photo Gallery Lunar Orbiter Images


(LAC zone 144D4) USGS Digital Atlas PDF




Additional Information

  • IAU page: Shackleton
  • Shackleton is the IAU-named feature closest to the Moon's South Pole (rotation axis). The pole is thought to fall on, or just inside, Shackleton's rim.
  • The current official IAU coordinates for Shackleton (given in the title line) are almost certainly incorrect. The most likely coordinates are 89.69°S / 130.8°E. The rim diameter is probably also slightly underestimated. It appears to be in the range 20.5 to 21.1 km. - Jim Mosher
  • The south polar region as seen from Earth is nicely depicted in Ewen Whitaker's classic 1954 polar charts. But note that the elliptical crater shown just below the south pole is not Shackleton. With a favorable libration, Shackleton can indeed be seen from Earth, but it will be found between what Whitaker saw as overlapping ridges just to the left of the point he marks "S. Pole". - Jim Mosher
  • From crater counting Spudis and others (2008) estimate the crater to be 3.6 +/- 0.4 billion years old, much older than commonly assumed.
  • Kaguya Terrain Camera leader Junichi Haruyama notes its imaging of the interior of Shackleton as one of the highlights of the mission.


  • Named for Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton (1874-1922), an Irish-born British Antarctic explorer.
  • This name was proposed to the IAU by amateurs as part of their Luna Incognita project to fill in areas left blank on the Lunar Orbiter maps. It was approved in 1994 (IAU Transactions XXIIB). As noted by Whitaker (p. 236), Shackleton does not appear to replace any previous IAU-approved designation for this feature.
  • Strange to say, in Wilkins and Moore, Shackleton was assigned to Gioja A near the moon's NORTH pole. The IAU did not accept that designation, assigning it instead to the moon's SOUTH pole!

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