Monday, October 17, 2011

LROC Quickmap improvements dazzle

Roof top of the Moon (10,786 meters (35,387 feet) above global mean elevation), as determined by LRO investigators a year ago, is high on the lopsided eastern rim of Engel'gardt crater (5.7°N, 159.0°E), in the farside highlands; 44 km-wide and seen here immediately left of center in a field of view roughly 325 km wide and includes the northern Korolev basin (below). All these features are difficult to spot in cameras, not least of the reasons being in an area criss-crossed with superimposed bright rays. After this past weekend, however LROC premiered an overlay with a variable opacity showing their Global Wide Angle Camera (WAC) digital terrain model (DTM) in false color (here seen at the default 30% over the hybrid LROC NAC and WAC Global mosaic) is now an integral part of the ACT-REACT LROC Quickmap feature on their popular website, improving the map's usefulness when searching through LROC's vast data contribution to the Planetary Data System immeasurably [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].
An hour "playing" with the 'new and improved' LROC Quickmap enabled us to assemble this exploration of the tenuous connection between the Marius Hills and the Reiner Gamma albedo feature (with it's attendant crustal magnetic anomaly), both familiar features in Oceanus Procellarum. It's a place to begin digging deeper into the three dimensions of data from LROC already available to the public, especially with the new addition of the LROC DTM. Is Reiner Gamma's long swirl and it's intense local magnetism a result of a sub-surface flash flood of volcanic material? With the new LROC DTM overlay, it's much easier to demonstrate those features with little to no corresponding topographic expression and others nearly invisible except at very high sun angles [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].
Not very far from the Moon's highest point is what appears to be it's lowest, within the South Pole-Aitken basin, at the bottom of the large crater on the southern floor of Antoniadi (or, near 70.38°S, 187.2°E, over 9,000 meters below global mean elevation). This mix of LROC WAC imagery overlaid with the false-color WAC DTM adds more than just a feeling of depth of field. Most camera views of the floor of Antoniadi, and mare-filled features everywhere else on the Moon, the surface looks misleadingly flat. Even at 500 meter per pixel resolution, the wide deep flat floor of Antoniadi shows an uneven, almost "dune-like" roughness, lost in surveys based on albedo alone [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].
Another instant study increases the opacity of the LROC WAC DTM overlay from the base WAC optical mosaic of a nearside portion of the lunar south pole environs, offering an informative look at one of the Moon's last terra incognitas [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].
Related Post: LROC Quickmap

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