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: Meteorites yield clues to Martian early atmosphere

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

Meteorites yield clues to Martian early atmosphere

2 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Geologists who analyzed 40 meteorites that fell to Earth from Mars unlocked secrets of the Martian atmosphere hidden in the chemical signatures of these ancient rocks. Their study, published ...

Let's put a sailboat on Titan

5 hours ago

The large moons orbiting the gas giants in our solar system have been getting increasing attention in recent years. Titan, Saturn's largest moon, is the only natural satellite known to house a thick atmosphere. ...

Image: Rosetta's Philae lander snaps a selfie

5 hours ago

Philae is awake… and taking pictures! This image, acquired last night with the lander's CIVA (Comet nucleus Infrared and Visible Analyzer) instrument, shows the left and right solar panels of ESA's well-traveled ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Meteorites yield clues to Martian early atmosphere

(Phys.org) —Geologists who analyzed 40 meteorites that fell to Earth from Mars unlocked secrets of the Martian atmosphere hidden in the chemical signatures of these ancient rocks. Their study, published ...

Let's put a sailboat on Titan

The large moons orbiting the gas giants in our solar system have been getting increasing attention in recent years. Titan, Saturn's largest moon, is the only natural satellite known to house a thick atmosphere. ...

ESO image: A study in scarlet

This new image from ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile reveals a cloud of hydrogen called Gum 41. In the middle of this little-known nebula, brilliant hot young stars are giving off energetic radiation that ...

How kids' brain structures grow as memory develops

Our ability to store memories improves during childhood, associated with structural changes in the hippocampus and its connections with prefrontal and parietal cortices. New research from UC Davis is exploring ...

Gate for bacterial toxins found

Prof. Dr. Dr. Klaus Aktories and Dr. Panagiotis Papatheodorou from the Institute of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology of the University of Freiburg have discovered the receptor responsible ...