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The NASA Lunar Prospector probe made an approach to closely observe the moon. The mission entered a longer phase, and the controllers reduced the altitude of this lunar orbiter from 100 to 30 kilometers, allowing spectacular and very detailed photographs, such as this one. Global properties have already been observed and evidence of the existence of water ice in the lunar poles.
This 'zoom' of the moon was captured from the European Southern Observatory with the new WFI camera. It shows very realistic shadows and terrain with many contrasts near the outstanding Gassendi crater, in the northern part of Mare Humorum.
The origin of lunar craters has been debated for a long time. The latest studies show that most were formed by explosive impacts of meteorites traveling at high speed or small asteroids, especially during the primary era of lunar history, when the Solar System still contained many of these fragments.
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