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LRO Image of the Week: The Rolling Stones Wish You Were Here? May 23, 2010

Posted by Nick Azer in : Apollo, LRO Image of the Week, Lunar Reconaissance Orbiter, Schmitt, selenography , add a comment

For this edition of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Image of the Week, we summit the central peak of Tsiolkovskiy— a conspicuously dark crater on the far side of the Moon.

The location of Tsiolkovskiy, via Google Moon.

The darkness, like the mare, comes from a floor that filled with lava. The unusual nature of Tsiolkovskiy led it to be considered as a landing site for Apollo 17 or the later Apollo missions that were cancelled. As no Apollo missions ended up going to the far side, that’s still a cookie left to be had—the first man to ever reach the far side of the moon. (Side note: the dark side of the moon and the far side are actually separate concepts; the Moon does rotate, just perfectly in sync with Earth, so the far side does have day and night, with the lunar night at any given time being ‘the dark side’.)

The LRO image at top shows a litany of boulders, many with trails behind them visible (rolling stones on the far side…all we need are beetles and a zeppelin-shaped craft, and we’ve got a true rock odyssey). For these locales where no man has gone before, the incredible hi-def eye of the LRO can finally take us deep into the places we longed to explore 40 years ago.

LRO Image of the Week #3: It's a Zoo Out There May 16, 2010

Posted by Nick Azer in : LRO Image of the Week, Lunar Reconaissance Orbiter, Moon Zoo, selenography , add a comment

This week’s image is the most interesting selection I received upon my initial perusings for Moon Zoo. Moon Zoo’s a new citizen science project, recruiting you to help sort through images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and identify items of interest in them.

This section, near the notable crater Aristarchus (brightest on the Moon by a wide margin), is brimming with all kinds of rocky activity! A rather unusual landscape.

Check out my post from this week on Moon Zoo and head over there to get your own selection of images (and the interactive lunar map made from LRO images—super hi def!—under the “My Moon Zoo” section).

LRO Image of the Week #2: Eagle Has Landed May 7, 2010

Posted by Nick Azer in : Apollo, hoax theories, LRO Image of the Week, Lunar Reconaissance Orbiter , add a comment

This week’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Image of the Week is perhaps the Orbiter’s most famous (already): it is an image of the Apollo 11 lunar lander (Eagle) on the surface of the moon!

This image (and others of Apollo landing sites) is a nail in the coffin of the various Apollo hoax theories still floating around out there. As long as these images (and the entire LRO mission) are not themselves hoaxes ( ;) ), this snapshot of the Eagle’s final lunar aerie serves as clear proof that we did, in fact, actually land people up there.

The module is tiny amongst the Sea—located by the long shadow it casts in the early dawn light (center of image).

For more on those long lunar shadows, check out my first LRO Image of the Week; and, be sure to check back next week for #3 :)

LRO Image of the Week #1!: Good Morning April 29, 2010

Posted by Nick Azer in : LRO Image of the Week, Mare Nubium, selenography , 1 comment so far

Today, I’m starting up a new weekly feature here at Luna C/I: The LRO (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter) Image of the Week!

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is an ongoing NASA mission, which as a part of its goal to prepare NASA (or, as the case may now be,  private space or international interests) for eventual moon bases by scouting the moon in new detail has taken tons and tons of groundbreaking photos. Detail never before seen has probed scientific mysteries, found lost property, and even disproved a hoax or two.

Each week, I’ll pick an image with a good story or item of interest to it and explore its tale in brief.

So, without further ado, here’s the first image of the week. Which, fittingly, is the first image the LRO took:

This first image is of an area near Mare Nubium, which is the southernmost of the great near side maria (about 350 miles south of the Apollo 12 and 14 landings).

What’s interesting here is, as LROC Principal Investigator Mark Robinson puts it best below, is the time of day at the location:

“Our first images were taken along the moon’s terminator — the dividing line between day and night — making us initially unsure of how they would turn out. Because of the deep shadowing, subtle topography is exaggerated, suggesting a craggy and inhospitable surface. In reality, the area is similar to the region where the Apollo 16 astronauts safely explored in 1972.”- LROC Principal Investigator Mark Robinson, “LRO’s First Moon Images”, NASA

The Apollo astronauts reported the striking differences the landscape took on as the sun came around the surface, creating dramatic sights. The lunar dawn is a unique sight, and a perfectly fitting study for the dawn of a new chapter of lunar understanding :)

Check back next week as I delve into an important discovery that came about in part by way of those long shadows…