Thursday, June 4, 2009

Kaguya at Perilune

Antoniadi From the montage of stills above (A. & B.) Kaguya HDTV video (1:01) from April 22 spies backward from an altitude of 21 kilometers (13 miles) as it zips over the far south lunar far side. Visible are sooth rolling plains to the north followed by the ejecta blanket rim and interior of Antoniadi. The sequence covers roughly an area between 64°S to 71°S by 184°to 188°E. Antoniadi is a transitional crater, just between being both an impact crater and basin, 143 km (84 miles) in diameter. It's steep collapsed walls are seen, surrounding an interior basin flooded with ancient mare. This region is well within the South Pole-Aitken (SPA) Basin, the last frames of the crater's interior are just under 600 km (355 miles) from the lunar South Pole.

The Full-Size video can be seen HERE.

Only 11 kilometers in altitude (6.3 miles, 36,000 feet) and closer to the Moon than at the moment, during Terminal Descent, that Apollo expeditions "tipped over" to first see their landing sites for the first time, Kaguya speeds over the southern western limb, just barely on the Moon's near side, and covers a 175 km (109 mile) path between 45°S and 52°S and 262°E to 263°E (older coordinates 82° to 81° W longitude) starting south of crater Baade, another very ancient, weathered impact is visible for a few moments in the upper right at the beginning. Baade (56 km, or 33 miles in diameter) is the only distinctive crater through yet another sequence of rolling terrain Kaguya covers in this sequence (1:11), both are areas Charles Wood described on June 4 as "Dullsville." The area was recorded in Lunar Orbiter photographs IV-186-H2, IV-193-H3 and IV-194-H2.

And, again, a superior 835 px wide version of this video can be seen HERE.

While in transfer orbits, with perigees only a handful of degrees east from their eventual landing sites, only the Apollo astronauts have experienced views this close to lunar surface, usually an orbit prior to the beginning of Terminal Descent. And it's hard to think of travel over any planet's surface, even Earth, at 1600 plus meters per second as anything close to being "dull."