Spectacular view of Aitken Crater from sideways LRO glance

Jan 20, 2011 By Nancy Atkinson
LROC NAC oblique view of Aitken crater, including the central peak, northern walls, and the Constellation Region of Interest. Scene is about 30 km wide. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

When people look out of the corner of their eyes, they often don't see things very clearly. But that's not the case for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's cameras. Occasionally LRO's cameras are commanded to look off to the side at extreme angles, and the results, thought not frequent, are incredible. This stunning image of the central uplifts inside of Aitken Crater was taken on January 11, 2011.

Here, LROC was looking over the southwest ridge of its central peak, and in the distance the lower portion of the northeastern walls of Aitken itself is just visible. To quote the Fred Haise character in the movie Apollo 13, this image makes me tempted to take a down and "do some prospecting."

Mostly, LRO looks straight down for its images, but has collected a limited number of these oblique views of the . They are very useful for engineering purposes, but also provide a unique view for visualizing key on the lunar surface — like Aitken. And usually, they are beautiful shots.

Aitken Crater(~135 km in diameter) is of interest because it is is one of the most geologically diverse settings on the farside. The floor of the crater is covered in mare basalt, which are quite rare on the lunar farside, and lunar scientists are still trying to figure out why. Aitken is also on the northern rim of the great South Pole-Aitken basin, the oldest and largest impact basin on the Moon and one of the oldest and largest impact basins in the whole Solar System! Further exploration of the South Pole-Aitken basin is one of the highest priorities for planetary science in the next decade.

Explore further: Lockheed Martin successfully mates NOAA GOES-R satellite modules

More information: Check out more images from this view of Aitken Crater at the LROC website, where you can “Zoomify” and take a closer look.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New lunar south polar maps from SMART-1

Mar 11, 2008

Newly-released images of the lunar south-polar region obtained by ESA’s SMART-1 are proving to be wonderful tools to zero-in on suitable study sites for potential future lunar exploration missions.

An oblique look on the north lunar far west

Aug 09, 2006

This image, taken by the Advanced Moon Imaging Experiment (AMIE) on board ESA’s SMART-1 spacecraft, provides an 'oblique' view of the lunar surface towards the limb, around the Mezentsev, Niepce and Merrill ...

Biggest, Deepest Crater Exposes Hidden, Ancient Moon

Mar 04, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Shortly after the Moon formed, an asteroid smacked into its southern hemisphere and gouged out a truly enormous crater, the South Pole-Aitken basin, almost 1,500 miles across and more than ...

Recommended for you

Internet moguls Musk, Bezos shake up US space race

20 hours ago

The space race to end America's reliance on Russia escalated this week with a multibillion dollar NASA award for SpaceX's Elon Musk and an unexpected joint venture for Blue Origin's Jeff Bezos.

Winter in the southern uplands of Mars

Sep 19, 2014

Over billions of years, the southern uplands of Mars have been pockmarked by numerous impact features, which are often so closely packed that they overlap. One such feature is Hooke crater, shown in this ...

Five facts about NASA's ISS-RapidScat

Sep 19, 2014

NASA's ISS-RapidScat mission will observe ocean wind speed and direction over most of the globe, bringing a new eye on tropical storms, hurricanes and typhoons. Here are five fast facts about the mission.

User comments : 0