Tour of the Moon in 4K

[music] The Moon. It’s our nearest
neighbor in space, and data we gather from its features can
tell us a lot about the rest of our solar system. And through
the eyes of the LRO spacecraft, we can explore the lunar surface
in all new ways in fascinating detail. Our tour begins on the
western border, where the near side of the Moon meets the far
side. The enormous feature is a lunar crater and it’s known as
the Orientale basin. Here, LRO’s terrain map combines with
surface gravity measurements from the GRAIL mission. This
data reveals structure in the lunar crust, beneath the
surface, giving us a window into the geologic features of the
Moon’s interior. Our next location receives little direct
sunlight and has some of the coldest recorded temperatures in
the solar system – the South Pole. The highlighted spots
signify potential water ice, based on temperature readings
from LRO’s Diviner instrument and reflectance from its laser
altimeter LOLA. LOLA also allows us to peer into the darkness of
Shackleton crater by bringing us this digital elevation model.
It’s 21 kilometers wide, and 4 kilometers deep, but it pales in
comparison to the largest known impact crater in the Earth-Moon
system – the South Pole-Aitken Basin. Sitting on the far side,
it’s 2500 kilometers across and 13 kilometers deep. We don’t yet
know exactly how old the basin is, but it was first seen in the
1960s by spacecraft flying around the far side. As much as
we use LRO data to investigate areas we can’t see from Earth,
we also probe familiar territory on the lunar near side, to bring
back images with an all-new level of detail. This is Tycho
crater; it’s around 100 million years old. Here, the Lunar
Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera captures the central peak with a
100 meter-wide bolder at the summit – the origins of which
are still a mystery. Continuing across Moon’s nearside, we will
arrive in an area ripe for future exploration, due to the
diversity of impact and volcanic materials. It features a
prominent crater so bright it’s not only visible through
telescopes, but also to the naked eye. Welcome to the
Aristarchus plateau. Here, infrared shows the mineral
pyroxene in orange, and a splash of plagioclase in blue from
Aristarchus crater. This region can tell us a lot about the rich
volcanic history of the Moon. As much as we study the Moon
looking for sites to visit, we also look back at places we’ve
already been. This is because the new data that LRO is
gathering helps us reinterpret the geology of familiar places,
giving scientists a better understanding of the sequence of
events in early lunar history. Here, we descend to the Apollo
17 landing site in the Taurus-Littrow valley, which is
deeper than the Grand Canyon. The path the astronauts took
over the course of three days is
shown. The Lunar Reconnaissance
Orbiter Camera is even able to capture a view of the bottom
half of the Apollo 17 Lunar Lander, which still sits on the
surface, as well as the rover vehicle. These images help
preserve our accomplishment of human exploration on the Moon’s
surface. Moving onward, we make our way to our final
destination. This location contains regions that exist in
permanent shadow, as well as ones that bask in nearly
perpetual light. It’s the North Pole. Detailed terrain
measurements by LOLA allow scientists to model sunlight and
shadow at the poles over decades and centuries. Sunlit peaks and
crater rims here may be ideal locations for generating solar
power for future expeditions to the Moon. This updated
visualization of the lunar landscape stands as a testament
to the functionality and abilities of the Lunar
Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft. And as the mission
continues to gather data, it will provide us with many more
opportunities to take a tour of our Moon. [beeping]


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