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amelia earhart

A large crater on the Earth-facing side of the Moon has been named after aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart – the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.

This the first detection of its kind in at least a century, scientists said.

The 200km-wide buried crater was found in data from NASA’s Grail spacecraft, which mapped the Moon’s gravity field.

The results were presented at a major scientific meeting in Texas.

The discovery was the outcome of work by Rohan Sood, Loic Chappaz and Prof. H. Jay Melosh at Purdue University, where Amelia Earhart was a member of the academic faculty from 1935 until her death in 1937.

The find was made while the scientists were searching the data for evidence of hollow underground structures known as lava tubes.

Speaking at the 46th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) in The Woodlands, Prof. H. Jay Melosh said: “No-one to our knowledge has ever recognized this as the broken rim of a crater, and we wouldn’t have either except that gravity shows it up very clearly as a big circular anomaly [in the Grail data].”Amelia Earhart Moon crater

The Serenitatis Basin is thought to have been created by a giant impact about 3.9 billion years ago. So Earhart crater, which lies partially buried under the debris, must be at least that age, but how much older is not known at this stage.

Grail measured variations in the acceleration of gravity, which can provide a window into the Moon’s internal structure.

The researchers used a mathematical correction that takes away the part that is due to the topography of the lunar surface, in order to show what was underneath.

Further mathematical modeling carried out by Loic Chappaz revealed that the signature picked up near the Serenitatis Basin could be best explained by a crater 200km in diameter.

The team members chose Amelia Earhart because of her association with Purdue and her contribution as a female aviation pioneer.

Amelia Earhart became the first woman to complete a solo transatlantic flight in 1932, piloting a single-engined plane from Newfoundland to County Derry in Northern Ireland.

She set many other records during her lifetime.

Amelia Earhart disappeared in 1937 during an attempt to circumnavigate the globe in a Lockheed Model 10 Electra aircraft.

The name is technically temporary, since the naming of astronomical objects and features needs to be approved by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). But the team is hopeful that the name will stick.

The LPSC runs from March 16 to 20 in The Woodlands, near Houston.

TIGHAR’s expedition to find out what happened to celebrated pilot Amelia Earhart is returning to Hawaii without the evidence it was looking for.

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) believes Amelia Earhart and her navigator crashed on a Pacific island and died soon after.

The $2.2 million expedition was searching for evidence of the wreckage in the waters around Nikumaroro.

Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, in 1932.

“This is just sort of the way things are in this world,” TIGHAR president Pat Thrasher said.

“It’s not like an Indiana Jones flick where you go through a door and there it is. It’s not like that – it’s never like that.”

Next year TIGHAR is planning a return voyage to the island, where they believe Amelia Earhart may have survived for a short time.

The research team collected video and sonar data, and is expected to begin analysing it on the return journey to Hawaii, Pat Thrasher said.

Updates from her husband, Ric Gillespie, who founded TIGHAR, suggested the search was cut short to five days from 10 because of “nightmare terrain”, and accidents with equipment.

On 2 July 1937, Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan took off from Papua New Guinea in their Electra 10E aircraft, en route to Howland Island

On 2 July 1937, Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan took off from Papua New Guinea in their Electra 10E aircraft, en route to Howland Island

On 2 July 1937, Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan took off from Papua New Guinea in their Electra 10E aircraft, en route to Howland Island.

Many experts think a navigational error caused the pair to run out of fuel over the sea. They were never seen again.

They were three-quarters of the way through an unprecedented circumnavigation of the globe around the equator.

On 3 July, the USS Colorado departed from Hawaii in search of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan.

The research team set sail 75 years to the day after search teams went looking for the pair.

TIGHAR’s expedition had the approval of the US state department and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Artefacts that could have belonged to Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan have been found on earlier visits to the island and a photograph of the coast from October 1937 could show a blurred image of part of the plane.

Amelia Earhart

• Born in Kansas in 1897

• First woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean

• Helped form the Ninety-Nines, a professional aviation group for women, and became their first president

• Held multiple speed records