Monday, February 21, 2011

Nearside Spectacular!

LROC Wide Angle Camera (WAC) "no slew" mosaic of the lunar nearside, December 2010. See the Full-Size image release HERE [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

Mark Robinson
Principal Investigator
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera
Arizona State University

For two weeks in mid-December 2010, the LRO spacecraft remained nadir looking (straight down) so that the LROC Wide Angle Camera (WAC) could acquire ~1300 images, allowing the LROC team to construct this spectacular mosaic. As the Moon rotated under LRO's orbit, the ground track progressed from east to west (right to left in this mosaic), and the incidence angle at the equator increased from 69° to 82° (at noontime the incidence angle is 0°).

Same LROC WAC mosaic of the lunar nearside with major mare basins and craters labeled. The Moon's diameter is 3474 km (2159 miles). View the Full-Size annotated image HERE [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

The LROC WAC is quite small, easily fitting in your hand. It weighs in at only 900 grams (2 lbs). Despite its diminutive size, the WAC maps nearly the whole Moon every month, in 7 wavelengths. The LROC WAC was designed, built, and calibrated at Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS) in San Diego, CA.

LROC WAC mounted on a rotation stage at the MSSS calibration facility in July 2008. The width of the VIS (Visible Light) baffle, indicated with arrow, is only 15.5 cm (6.1 inches) [M. Robinson photo].

Find your favorite nearside features in the 24,000 sample by 24,000 line WAC mosaic.

Previous large-scale WAC mosaic postings:
Eastern Hemisphere
North Pole
South Pole
South Pole illumination
Orientale Basin
South Pole-Aitken (SPA) Basin

Zoom in sample of the LROC Featured Image, February 21, 2011, the LROC WAC nearside mosaic, to maximum resolution. Readily picked out are the familiar landmarks of the Descartes Formation southeast of the Apollo 16 landing site, north of the battered, ancient 30 km wide Descartes Crater. [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

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