A Before and After image of the area of the Chinese Chang’e lander (large white dot in the center of the second image) and Yutu rover (smaller white dot below the lander). The individual images were taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera Narrow Angle Camera. Image Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter took a before and after image of the area where China set down the rover Yutu (Jade Rabbit). The before and after shots are what you see above.
The distance from camera to rover is about 150 km / 93 miles. The rover itself is only 150 cm / 5 feet. Apparently the reason it shows up, because the pixel size in the image is also 150 cm, is the solar panels reflect light efficiently and the shadow is evident. NASA tells all about the image below.
Hopefully we will get to see if the rover moves about in the future.
Chang’e 3 landed on Mare Imbrium (Sea of Rains) just east of a 450 m diameter impact crater on 14 December 2013. Soon after landing, a small rover named Yutu (or Jade Rabbit in English) was deployed and took its first tentative drive onto the airless regolith. At the time of the landing LRO’s orbit was far from the landing site so images of the landing were not possible. Ten days later on 24 December, LRO approached the landing site, and LROC was able to acquire a series of six LROC Narrow Angle Camera ( NAC ) image pairs during the next 36 hours (19 orbits). The highest resolution image was possible when LRO was nearly overhead on 25 December 03:52:49 UT (24 December 22:52:49 EST). At this time LRO was at an altitude of ~150 km above the site, and the pixel size was 150 cm.
LROC’s look at the area of Sinus Iridum. Click for larger. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University
LROC gives us this view of the Sinus Iridum and the general area. China is planning on putting a lander in this region and have just successfully put the spacecraft carrying their rover in lunar orbit to do just that.
The Chang’e-3 entered a 100 km high circular orbit on Friday after a braking by a variable thrust engine of 361 seconds.
Speculation is the Chang’e 3 will be in the area of the crater Laplace A in the center of the picture. The area has been visitied by a rover before, the arrow in the lower left shows where the Soviet Lunokhod 1 landed. The Lunokhod 1 landed on 17 November 1970 and operated until contact was lost on 14 September 1971.
Moscow University Lunokhod 1 page
Boulder tracks on a lunar crater. Image: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University
I mentioned the other day some of my favorite LROC images featured boulder tracks and as luck would have it I found another one on the LROC site. I say YAY! There is activity up there every now and then – mostly then. These probably created from the crater making impact?
This one is pretty cool not just because of the curved tracks, these tracks are located on the far side of the moon. The associated crater is called Van Gent U.
Have a look at the LROC site for a full description and a link to a zoomable version of the image.
A fresh looking crater with a beautiful eject pattern. Image Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University
Here is what looks from the bright material to be a fresh crater on the moon, this one isn’t named yet.
According to the LROC team, the dark center in the otherwise bright ejecta is either a different type of material or could be impact melting. The black dots in the ejecta plume could be either again a different material type or they could be from secondary craters.
It is located on the northern part of Mare Fecunditatis. Specifically the location is 3.64°N, 48.93°E. As bright as this crater is it could be tough to spot; it’s small only about 180 meters (590 feet) in diameter. For scale, the image is 930 meters (2962 feet) across.
You can click the image to enlarge it, better yet click here and go to the LROC site to the zoomable version of the crater and surrounding area.