Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Tear Drop Peninsula



Context from the earth-bound perspective, shows the Montes Recti "island" near the far northwestern shore of the Imbrium basin, the right "eye" of the "Man in the Moon" [Virtual Moon Atlas v.4].

It's not a fair comparison (see below). Our best Lunar Orbiter photography (not yet remastered by LOIRP) of Montes Recti in far northwest Mare Imbrium were each shot from a relatively high vantage.

Lunar Orbiter V was 2872 kilometers over Rimae Maupertuis, over the tortured debris piled high between Imbrium's northwestern border and Mare Frigoris when the upper most image below was photographed (V-139-H3).

More than forty years later LRO was only in orbit 251, still it its commissioning phase, last July, and perhaps 100 kilometers or more over Montes Recti when the tear drop peninsula on the south central edge of the 90 kilometer-long rectangular mountain ridge was gathered in narrow angle camera strip M10229264L.

Mark Robinson and his remarkable LROC team at Arizona State University released the full image Monday December 14, spotlighting the wrinkle ridges further south.

In the full NAC image, a closer look at the tear drop formation is possible, and the surrounding terrain shows definitively that it is not encroaching on the wide Imbrium plain but rather the other way around. Whatever Recti's origin it clearly predates the last time Imbrium basin was flooded with basalt. A compression wave on the east side of the peninsula showing that hot flood stilled after coming very close to overrunning the tiny neck of the tear.

A careful study of the larger wrinkle ridge system over the past century and more has offered observers dependable clues about the sequence of the events now classified as "Pre-Imbrium, Imbrium, late Imbrium," etc.

As comprehensive imagery from LRO becomes available, the story of the Space Age will be retold once again, as old questions are answered and new questions take their place.

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