Sunday, December 15, 2013

LRO: Finding Chang'e-3

In more than four years in lunar orbit, the LRO LROC Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) system has released to the Planetary Data System (PDS) ony a few observations that include the Chang'e-3 landing site. From the earliest of these, acquired July 15, 2009, in only orbit 250 comes this sample of LROC NAC observation M102285549, centered on the area seen in descent images acquired by Chang'e-3 while closing in on the surface of Mare Imbrium. The field of view is 1700 meters, resolution 1.66 meters per pixel, late afternoon angle of incidence 80.85° from 168.17 km [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].
Mark Robinson
Principal Investigator
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC)
Arizona State University

Chang'e-3 successfully landed on the Moon on 14 December 2013. The touchdown occurred on the far eastern edge of the commonly reported landing zone (44.12°N, 340.49°E), in the northwestern portion of Mare Imbrium. By correlating features seen in the nested series of Chang'e-3 descent images it appears the spacecraft landed just to the east of a 450 meter diameter crater.

Boxes indicate areas in Chang'e-3 descent images. The spacecraft is probably in, or very near, the smallest box. Field of view 4700 meters wide, from LROC NAC M181302794L orbit 11832, January 15, 2012; angle of incidence 71.7° at 1.57 meters resolution, from 158.79 km [NASA/GSFC/ASU/JHUAPL].
The exact landing site will be known when the Chang'e-3 flight team has time to correlate features seen in surface images with orbital images, and tracking data are refined.

Chang'e-3 descent images used to locate landing site in LROC NAC images [CNSA/CLEP].
LRO will next be above western Mare Imbrium on 24 and 25 December, and LROC will image the Chang'e-3 landing site.

Meanwhile, why not evisit previous LROC posts of other hardware still on the Moon, and check out the LROC Featured Sites, HERE.

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