Monday, September 6, 2010

Lunar superlatives from LROC WAC

The 'Rooftop of the Moon' appears to be on the wide, flat northwest rim of 43 km-wide Engel'gard, the largest crater in this monochrome sample from the LROC Wide Angle Camera. The actual spot (5.44°N, 201.36°E) is not immediately distinct, as are Everest or Denali, for example. A future traveler standing there, 10.75 km above the global mean elevation might notice little beyond a close horizon. A brief 'bunny hop' may be necessary to get to an overlook, to see breathtaking views of astounding depths and distances. LROC WAC observation M103209735ME, field of view roughly 100 km; LRO orbit 379, July 26, 2009; alt. 112.88 km, res. 178.3 meters, phase angle 66.22° [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

Barely 2400 km from the Moon's highest point is it's lowest point, invisible above, inside the shadows of the 12 km crater at middle-left, within the wide interior of 143 km-wide Antoniadi, not far from the center of 4 billion year old South Pole-Aitken basin. From Kaguya the smaller crater's interior (70.43°S, 187.42°E) was measured to a depth of 9.06 km below global mean (19.85 kilometers below the high point at Engle'hardt and 2 km more than the range gauged as recently as 2005). This image was processed using LROC WAC Previewer (v.1.2) from LROC WAC observation M103254154ME; field of view approximately 150 km; LRO orbit 385, July 26, 2009; alt. 42.68 km, res. 66.03 meters, phase angle 82.5° [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

The bright, highest of the Moon's highlands as seen from Kaguya as the orbiter sailed under a late morning Sun. [JAXA/NHK/SELENE].

Also from Kaguya, the Moon's lowest place (70.43°S, 187.42°E) is briefly seen at the bottom of the bowl-shaped crater in wider Antoniadi. All the scenery in this late mission Terrain Camera image averages a few kilometers lower in lunar elevation than anything we can see of the Moon's near side from Earth. [JAXA/SELENE].

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