Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Astronaut's eye view of the Apollo 16 landing site

Oblique LROC Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) image of the Apollo 16 landing site, viewed from east to west.  Brighter South Ray crater is center left and North Ray crater center right, and the distance between the two landmark crater centers is 10.5 km. LROC NAC montage M192817484LR, LRO orbit 13442, May 28, 2012. View the 1600 x 1600 full-size 4 meter resolution LROC Featured Image HERE [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].
Mark Robinson
Principal Investigator
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera
Arizona State University

On May 28 LRO was slewed 59° to the west, from an altitude of 92 km (57 miles) and captured a dramatic view of the Apollo 16 landing site.

During the Apollo 16 mission Ken Mattingly passed over the site several times at an altitude of 120 km (75 miles).  If you imagine yourself in the Command Module, then this view is close to what you would have seen.

The lighting is nearly identical to that of when the Lunar Module Orion set down on the Moon.

Subsampled subimage centered on Apollo 16 site, key craters and astronaut sampling stations are labeled (arrow shows location of lunar module descent stage and lunar rover), field of view 11 km across. View the 1600 px, full-size annotated image HERE [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University]
On the second day of surface activities John Young and Charlie Duke headed south to sample material from Stone mountain and ejecta from South Ray crater. They headed south and turned east climbing up the flank of Stone Mountain. Imagine the view that Young and Duke had from Cinco crater (Station 4)! From their vantage point some 300 meters above the LM, the astronauts could see all the way from South Ray crater to North Ray crater.

Full resolution details from the Apollo 16 oblique image. Upper left: Lunar Module descent stage above and to the left of the forever parked Lunar Rover (arrows). Upper right: House Rock on the rim of North Ray crater. Lower left: Baby Ray crater. Lower Right: Shadow Rock (arrow). Each view is 530 meters wide and 1240 meters deep [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].
Full resolution field of view from a LROC Wide Angle Camera (WAC) monochrome (604nm) montage, swept up from a mere 38.27 kilometers, in orbit 11299, December 3, 2011; 52.3 meters resolution. Like the Featured Image, the illumination from the east, at a 69.57° angle of incidence, is similar to the lighting during the Apollo 16 expedition in April 1972 [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].
With the annotated version you can easily retrace the routes followed by Young and Duke as they spent three days exploring this highland landing site. Read a detailed reconstruction of the astronaut activities through the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal

What did they find at House Rock? Why was Shadow Rock an important science target? Is Baby Ray crater older or younger than South Ray crater? Then imagine yourself picking up where the Apollo astronauts left off over forty years ago!

When will we return to the Moon?

Dive into the full resolution oblique shot of the Apollo 16 site, HERE.

Retrace the astronaut traverses in an annotated version of oblique image, HERE.

Previous Apollo 16 LROC Featured Images
How Young is Young?

No comments: