Caltech alumni help make over the moon

Apr 19, 2012 By Katie Neith
Credit: Sky & Telescope magazine

An entirely new globe of the moon—the first in over 40 years—is now available, thanks, in part, to Caltech alumni. Using images from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, a team at Sky & Telescope magazine, including senior contributing editor Kelly Beatty (BS '73), developed the updated model. In addition to publishing a monthly astronomy magazine, S&T also develops a variety of space-related products like globes, sky atlases, books, and posters. 

Previous moon globes have used artistic renderings of the surface. As Beatty noted in an S&T article, the surface detail on older models "doesn't look anything like what you'd see in the eyepiece [of a telescope]—there's little distinction between the dark lunar maria and the brighter highlands, for example. That old globe, while serviceable, just wasn't satisfying. So for years I've been prowling around for a suitable database of lunar photos to make a new one."

The hi-res photos that the team eventually used came from a modified version of the cameras designed for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and developed by Malin Space Science Systems, headed by Michael Malin (PhD '76). The Lunar Camera, launched aboard a NASA spacecraft in 2009, was used, in part, to assess meter-scale features of the moon and complete a global mapping effort with 100-meter resolution.

"The final mosaic consisted of more than 15,000 images acquired between November 2009 and February 2011, with the sun shining on the surface at incidence angles between 55° and 70° at the equator, lighting favorable for identifying surface features," writes Beatty.

After nearly a year of planning, the final result is an illustrated globe that actually looks like the , says Beatty, and includes over 850 labeled lunar features including craters, valleys, Apollo landing sites, and many more.

Explore further: Bright points in Sun's atmosphere mark patterns deep in its interior

More information: www.skyandtelescope.com/news/Sky-and-Telescope-New-Moon-Globe-145987805.html

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA tests moon orbiter components

Jan 12, 2008

U.S. engineers are testing the components of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to make sure it is ready for its mission to the moon.

Scientist to Work With NASA's Lunar Orbiter

Jan 25, 2005

NASA has selected Mark S. Robinson, research associate professor of geological sciences in Northwestern University’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, as one of six scientists to provide instrumentation and associated ...

Send Your Name to the Moon Aboard LRO

May 01, 2008

NASA invites people of all ages to join the lunar exploration journey with an opportunity to send their names to the moon aboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, spacecraft.

NASA Tests Moon Imaging Spacecraft at Goddard

Aug 01, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, also known as LRO, has completed the first round of environmental testing at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. These tests ensure the ...

NASA Spacecraft to Carry Russian Science Instruments

Oct 03, 2007

NASA and the Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos have agreed to fly two Russian scientific instruments on NASA spacecraft that will conduct unprecedented robotic missions to the moon and Mars.

Recommended for you

Astronauts to reveal sobering data on asteroid impacts

6 hours ago

This Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22, three former NASA astronauts will present new evidence that our planet has experienced many more large-scale asteroid impacts over the past decade than previously thought… ...

Rosetta instrument commissioning continues

7 hours ago

We're now in week four of six dedicated to commissioning Rosetta's science instruments after the long hibernation period, with the majority now having completed at least a first initial switch on.

Astronaut salary

7 hours ago

Talk about a high-flying career! Being a government astronaut means you have the chance to go into space and take part in some neat projects—such as going on spacewalks, moving robotic arms and doing science ...

Red moon at night; stargazer's delight

Apr 16, 2014

Monday night's lunar eclipse proved just as delightful as expected to those able to view it. On the East Coast, cloudy skies may have gotten in the way, but at the National Science Foundation's National Optical ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Cosmologists weigh cosmic filaments and voids

(Phys.org) —Cosmologists have established that much of the stuff of the universe is made of dark matter, a mysterious, invisible substance that can't be directly detected but which exerts a gravitational ...

Hubble image: A cross-section of the universe

An image of a galaxy cluster taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope gives a remarkable cross-section of the Universe, showing objects at different distances and stages in cosmic history. They range ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

Deadly human pathogen Cryptococcus fully sequenced

Within each strand of DNA lies the blueprint for building an organism, along with the keys to its evolution and survival. These genetic instructions can give valuable insight into why pathogens like Cryptococcus ne ...