Saturday, April 21, 2012

Forty years ago

Lunar module pilot Charlie Duke captured this view, through Apollo 16 commander John Young's window, April 21, 1972 (UT). To the left is Stone Mountain, northwest extreme of the Descartes Formation, where the astronauts would gather samples during their second of three EVA's. On the right is the bright ejecta blanket of South Ray crater, easy to spot through modest amateur telescopes from Earth, and a relatively recent impact that had conveniently excavated some of the oldest rocks in the lunar highlands. AS16-113-18300 [NASA/JSC].

Follow the Mission at the Apollo 16 Lunar Surface Journal

The latest released and indexed LROC Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) image of the Apollo 16 landing site was swept up in local morning lighting (incidence angle = 69.64°) not very different than the conditions encountered by Young and Duke forty years ago. The Orion descent stage, the astronaut's dusty boot-trails churned through optically immature regolith just exposed by the descent stage engine and the lunar rover parked just to the east are all visible. LROC NAC M177535538L, orbit 11299, December 3, 2011 from 38.6 kilometers [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].
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