An oblique view of the Moon’s Aitken Crater from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Aitken is on the far side of the Moon and is 135 km across; this photo looks over the southwest ridge of its central peak, with the northeast crater walls in the background. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University.
Maurice Collins has created mosaics from wide-angle imagery taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. “[Maurice] found that putting several images together in a mosaic removes a lot of the distortions and produces a much clearer image. The results are nothing short of stunning,” says Universe Today. Above, Maurice’s mosaic of Copernicus Crater.
The Moon may be essentially grey, but it does have colour. You can see it if you enhance a photo by setting the saturation or vibrancy control to maximum (as I’ve done here). Or you can use an orbiting spacecraft that images in seven different ultraviolet and visible wavelengths — i.e., the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. In this mosaic, the darker, bluer colour of the Sea of Tranquility (bottom left) is due to higher amounts of titanium dioxide in the lunar basalts. The red, green and blue channels have been assigned to 689 nm (red), 415 nm (violet) and 320 nm (near UV) wavelengths, respectively. Image credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University.
If you thought the last mosaic constructed from LROC images was something, wait until you see this. Yes, it’s a view of the full moon, so what? But it’s not just any view. One, it’s a view from the moon’s east side — the right half is never seen from the earth. And two, it’s composed of 3,700 images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s Wide-Angle Camera, so this is a high-resolution view of the full moon. (The black areas will be filled in in subsequent passes by the orbiter.) Via Bad Astronomy. Image credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University.
“Having officially reached lunar orbit on June 23rd, 2009, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has now marked one full year on its mission to scout the moon. […] In only the first year of the mission, LRO has gathered more digital information than any previous planetary mission in history. To celebrate one year in orbit, here are ten cool things already observed by LRO.”
This is incredible: a massive image mosaic of the Orientale basin on the Moon, constructed from images taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera. It’s incredible because the LROC takes fairly close, high-resolution views of the lunar surface, and Mare Orientale, Phil Plait points out, is bigger than Colorado. The full-sized image is at 100-metre resolution and covers an area 1,350 km wide, and results in a 122-megabyte, 185-megapixel image — that’s 13,590 × 13,590 pixels! (Instead of downloading the TIFF file, try the interactive version here.) The LROC team calls this a “preliminary large-area mosaic,” which is to say that there are a few gaps here and there. Still: wow. Credit: NASA/GSFC/University of Arizona.
On the Moon, the angle of the Sun can make a big impact on a surface feature’s appearance. These two images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter are of the very same thing, a relatively fresh impact crater 300 metres wide in the Mare Smythii. The Sun is lower in the sky in the image at right, casting shadows that provide definition. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University.