Polyaxial figures of the moon

H.B. Iz, Xiaoli Ding, C.L. Dai

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


This study investigates various models to represent the gross geometric shape of the Moon. Asymmetric polyaxial geometric models-namely three-, four- and six-axial lunar figure - are compared and contrasted with the axially symmetric three-axis ellipsoidal model derived from Chang'e 1 and SELENE laser altimetry data. All solutions confirm a hydrostatically stable lunar shape shifted with respect to the lunar center of mass by topography. Model solutions with increasing complexity offer additional information about the regional properties of the lunar topography. Solution statistics suggest that axially symmetric lunar figures and their center of figure parameters can be replaced by an equivalent asymmetric lunar shape centered at the center of mass of the Moon. Thus, using only three shape parameters, one can derive an "egg" shape that better accommodates the true geometry of the Moon.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-354
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Geodetic Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Polyaxial lunar figure
  • Lunar laser altimetry
  • Lunar orientation
  • Change'E-1


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