Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Kaguya captures Hadley Rille - Apollo 15

Hadley Rille Valley and Mount Hadley - smaller scale HDTV still of the Palus Putredinis
(the Marsh of Decay) amidst the Lunar Apennines and southwest of Imbrium Basin;
and Aristillis and Autolycus Craters by Japan's (JAXA)
KAGUYA, February 2008

At five meter resolution, the Lunar Community, still Earthbound, has marveled at the HDTV stills beamed home by Japan's Kaguya(Selene) Lunar Orbiter. Unfortunately, it has also whetted appetites for the half-meter resolution promised by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. LRO is still slated for launch in October.

Meanwhile JAXA continues to serve up appetizers from multiple instruments, and an orbital view Senator Jack Schmitt (Apollo 17) describes as "the closest thing to being there" he's experienced since December 1972.

After releasing tight shots of Tranquillity Base from 200 kilometers overhead and the high phase angle & high altitude images of Taurus-Littrow, the first and last places humans scratched the surface of Earth's Moon, respectively, JAXA has today released perhaps the best shots yet of an Apollo landing site.

The image above hardly does the release justice, as Junya Terazono explained earlier today:

Hello lunatics,

JAXA announced today that Kaguya successfully captured images of Apollo 15 landing site. And they confirmed some remnant of thrusted gas (helo) near the landing point. This is the world's first of discovery of Apollo evidence since the cessation of the mission.

* JAXA press release (Japanese, as usual) The image captured on 24 Feb 2008. Also, they released composite 3D images of the landing site using stereo pairs. The images show remarkable coincidence with photographs taken in Apollo 15 mission.

FIGURE ONE: Brief explanations of each image.

FIGURE TWO: The stereoscopic view of the Apollo 15 landing site. You can clearly see the meandering Hadley
Rille in the middle of the photograph.

FIGURE THREE: The topographic map of the landing site (
LPI). The red arrow shows
the viewing direction of Figure 1.

Magnified view of the image near the landing site. The area surrounded by red lines are considered as the remnant of the halo, the exposed surface after blowing of the thrusted gas.

FIGURE FIVE: The difference of the landing site before and after the landing, from the Apollo 15 Preliminary Science Report. Left one is AS15-87-11719, taken before landing. Right one is AS15-9430, taken from the command module after two circulation of the moon.

FIGURE SIX: The comparison between stereoscopic view composed from
Kaguya images (left) and Apollo 15 view (right). As any viewpoint is available from Kaguya TC images, JAXA staff composed the image simulated the view from Apollo 15 landing site. Hills and other topography are remarkably same.

FIGURE SEVEN: A HDTV image of Apollo 15 landing site.

Close-up view of the Hadley
rille. The stacked lava flows are clearly seen.
Junya Terazono (