Why is it so important to develop the capability to land in the dark on the Moon? This visualization produced by NASA Goddard gives the viewer a good sense of just how dynamic the lighting and thermal environments are in the resource-rich, permanently shadowed regions (PSR’s) near the Moon’s South Pole.
This visualization shows the unusual motions of Earth and the Sun as viewed from the South Pole of the Moon. The animation compresses three months (a little over three lunar days) into two minutes. The virtual camera is on the rim of Shackleton Crater, partially visible in the bottom right, and is aimed at the Earth. The mountain on the horizon, about 85 miles away, is unofficially known as Mons Malapert. Here, the Sun glides around the horizon, never more than 1.5 degrees above or below it, while the Earth bobs up and down, never veering far from 0° longitude. The Earth appears to be upside-down and rotating backwards. The perpetually low Sun angle produces extremely long shadows that rotate across the rugged lunar terrain. In the second month of the visualization, Earth passes in front of the Sun, creating an eclipse. For observers on Earth, this is a lunar eclipse, in which the Moon passes through the shadow cast by Earth. Viewed from the Moon, however, this is an eclipse of the Sun.