A 124 mile crater, one of the widest craters on the moon’s surface was discovered by a research team at Purdue University. The crater is present on the earth facing side of the moon, and it was undetected by lunar observations from centuries. The craters discovery was announced at the annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas.
The team comprises of Professor Jay Melosh and fellow researchers Rohan Sood and Loic Chappaz. They used the data from the NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission. GRAIL determines the interior structure of the moon by using high-quality gravitational field mapping.
The main reason behind the crater being unnoticed is that most of the crater is buried under the lunar surface although the small portion of it was visible. This was only possible with the detailed maps provided by GRAIL. This discovery was by chance, the team was zooming in the data to study the ridges and valleys on the surface but this turned out to be one of the widest craters.
The crater is named after the American aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart. Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean in 1937. She was a career counselor and adviser to the Department of Aeronautics at Purdue from 1935 to 1937. She set many other records but disappeared during an attempt to fly over the world in 1937.
“This is one of the biggest craters on the Moon, but no one knew it was there,” Jay Melosh said and further added “Craters are named after explorers or scientists, and Amelia Earhart had not yet received this honor. She attempted a flight around the world, and we thought she deserved to make it all the way to the Moon for inspiring so many future explorers and astronauts.”
This naming of the crater as Earhart crater is unofficial and must be examined and approved by International Astronomical Union.