Letter | Published:

Shape of the Moon from the Orbiter Determination of its Gravitational Field

Naturevolume 212page271 (1966) | Download Citation



AN analysis of the perturbations of the American Orbiter 1, revolving since August 14 in a 200 min orbit close to the Moon, has led to a satisfactory determination of the principal characteristics of the lunar gravitational field1, and it is of interest to compare these with previous predictions based on plausible physical assumptions. In a previous investigation2 one of us predicted the coefficients of a harmonic expansion of the lunar gravitational potential on the assumption that the mass of the Moon is distributed homogeneously. The volume of the Moon is defined by a surface obtained from the hypsometric data of the Aeronautical Chart and Information Centre of the U.S. Air Force3. We believe these data to be the best available at the present time, because the use of high-resolution sequential photographs from Pic du Midi enabled the ACIC investigators to minimize the atmospheric effects, which are the principal source of errors.

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  1. 1

    Michael, W. H., Tolson, R. H., and Gapcynski, J. P., Science, 153, 1102 (1966).

  2. 2

    Goudas, C. L., in Advances in Astronomy and Astrophysics, edit. by Kopal, Z. 27 (Academic Press, New York, and London, 1966).

  3. 3

    Meyer, D. L., and Ruffin, B. W., Icarus, 4, 513 (1965).

  4. 4

    Carson, D., Davidson, M., Goudas, C. L., Kopal, Z., and Stoddard, L. G., Icarus, 5, 334 (1966).

  5. 5

    Goudas, C. L., Icarus, 4, 528 (1965).

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  1. Z. KOPAL: Normally at the University of Manchester.

  2. Z. KOPAL: Normally at Stanford University.


  1. Boeing Scientific Research Laboratories, Seattle, Washington

    • C. L. GOUDAS
    • , Z. KOPAL
    •  & Z. KOPAL


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