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LRO's First Moon Images

Published by Matt on Thu Jul 2, 2009 4:54 pm
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NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has transmitted its first images since reaching the moon on June 23. The spacecraft’s two cameras, collectively known as the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, or LROC, were activated June 30. The cameras are working well and have returned images of a region in the lunar highlands south of Mare Nubium (Sea of Clouds).

1994 Clementine image of the moon with Mare Nubium labeled. LRO's first lunar images show an area near this region. Credit: NASA

LRO's first lunar images show an area near this region. Credit: NASA

As the moon rotates beneath LRO, LROC gradually will build up photographic maps of the lunar surface.

“Our first images were taken along the moon’s terminator — the dividing line between day and night — making us initially unsure of how they would turn out,” said LROC Principal Investigator Mark Robinson of Arizona State University in Tempe. “Because of the deep shadowing, subtle topography is exaggerated, suggesting a craggy and inhospitable surface. In reality, the area is similar to the region where the Apollo 16 astronauts safely explored in 1972. While these are magnificent in their own right, the main message is that LROC is nearly ready to begin its mission.”

These images show cratered regions near the moon’s Mare Nubium region, as photographed by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s LROC instrument. Each image shows a region 1,400 meters (0.87 miles) wide. the bottoms of both images face lunar north. The image below shows the location of these two images in relation to each other.

Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University

Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University

Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University

Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University

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