Monday, March 21, 2016

Desolate magnificence -The Space Review

LRO images on display at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum [Dwayne Day/The Space Review].
Dwayne Day

Right now Washington, DC’s museums are filled with the noise of hormonal teenagers on their spring break trips to the nation’s capital. They run around aimlessly, oblivious to their surroundings, or sprawl on the dirty carpet absorbed in their own little worlds. Later, in May, the senior class trips will show up, and those older students are a little less noisy, a little more focused, but they too will probably not be all that interested in the actual museums, even if they take their noses out of their cellphones for more than a second or two. But just maybe, perhaps, one or two of them may accidentally wander into one of the National Air and Space Museum’s new exhibits and they might quiet down for a moment and see something both familiar and alien.

The exhibit is titled “A New Moon Rises” and it is a display of large format photographs from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter featuring the Moon in all its panchromatic glory. You could look at most of these photos on your computer screen, but seeing them enlarged and displayed on a museum wall like works of art is an entirely different experience.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, was launched in 2009 and has been chugging away ever since. If nothing breaks, in four or five years the spacecraft will probably run out of fuel and, because the Moon’s gravity field is uneven, it will ultimately fall and silently crash into the surface after more than a decade in orbit.

- Read the full article online, in the latest issue of The Space Review, HERE.