A beautful look at the central peaks of Tycho from the LRO. Click for a larger view. Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University
Todays moon post is from close to home, our own moon. The image above is the central peaks in the crater Tycho as seen by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. The central peak complex above is about 15 km / 9.3 miles wide, left to right (southeast to northwest in this view). A very popular target with amateur astronomers, Tycho is about 82 km / 51 miles in diameter. The central peak’s summit is 2 km / 1.24 miles above the crater floor.
You have seen Tycho if you ever looked up that the full moon on a clear sky. A pair of binoculars will show the central peak. Here’s a look at Tycho from the Simon Fraser University.
Central craters generally form from an impact of a large body onto in this case the lunar surface. The heat generates surface melt and the “liquid” is pushed from the point of impact and then rebounds from the edges back to the center and freezes in place. Rock freezes at a much higher temperature than water as you well know.
Impact craters are a whole study on their own and there are many different types. The University of Wisconsin at Green Bay has a nice web page looking at the different types of craters and central peak formation. Depending on what body the craters are on they may appear a little different than lunar craters, for example: craters on Mercury generally are a little more muted the walls and central peaks don’t seem to reach out as much as lunar craters, this is because in part, Mercury has more gravity than the moon.
Click here to visit the source page for the image and more information about Tycho.
The LRO view of the Apollo 15 landing site. Click for larger. Image credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University
This image from the LRO shows the Apollo 15 landing area and the EVA routes drawn in. The great thing about this is you can go to The Project Apollo Image Gallery and see images of the area taken from the mission, including photos taken from the surface along the route marked above. note: you may have to click the Apollo 15 link once the page opens.
See that small bright crater on the St. George crater rim? it was there in July 1971 when Commander David Scott and Lunar Module Pilot James Irwin landed. Alfred Worden remained in orbit in the Command Module and was no doubt the source of many of these great shots. Do check the archive photos out – there are a lot of them.
The NASA caption puts it all in perspective nicely I think. You can read it below or at the NASA site where you can get a larger version of the image too.
More images and information from Arizona State University’s LRO Camera website
The NASA caption:
This image from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter shows the area surrounding Apollo 15’s landing site, annotated with the traverse plots of the mission’s first two moonwalks, abbreviated as EVAs (extra-vehicular activities). Numbers indicate elevations in meters above the landing site (indicated by the arrow labeled “LM” — lunar module). Astronauts David Scott and James Irwin ventured to the lower slopes of Mons Hadley Delta (center left). The distance they travelled from the lunar module to Elbow crater along the edge of Hadley Rille (EVA 1) is about 2.8 miles. Apollo 15 was the first mission on which the “lunar rover” was used.
The north pole of our moon. Image Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University
You have to check this out!
Scientists at NASA used the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has released the first high resolution interactive mosaic of the lunar north pole. What a bit of work, some 10,581 images went into the making of the image. You can pan and zoom down to an image resolution of two meters (six-and-a-half feet) per pixel.
Here’s the link.
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.
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.