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Asteroid 3251?

Originally published May 16, 2004


Image & Text Credit: Phillip Stooke

Asteroid 3251?

No, its not a close up of The Little Princes' Asteroid 3251. This is the Moon as you've never seen it before. It is one of the panoramas photographed by the Apollo 14 astronauts, but re-projected into a circle to approximate an overhead view. The white space at center is the unphotographed area around the astronaut's feet. His shadow extends to the west, cast by the sun just rising over the nearby Cone Ridge, which the crew later climbed. The ridge itself, its height greatly exaggerated by the reprojection, runs from north through east to south. The Lunar Module (Antares) stands just north of the astronaut, its height also grossly exaggerated. Just above left of center is the solar wind experiment, and the flag can just be seen behind and to the left of the LM. Images such as these are useful for mapping the landing site.

Technical Details:
The panorama was constructed in Photoshop, using images scanned at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston. Great care was taken to match the tones and the surface features at each frame boundary (most assembled panoramas fudge the seams to get around the problem of distortion at the edges of each frame). Then the image was stretched top to bottom, and the foreground was progressively compressed back towards its true perspective. This has the effect of enlarging distant features relative to the foreground to counter the usual perspective distortion. Finally the invaluable Photoshop filter 'polar coordinates' was used to wrap the rectangular image into a circle.

Related Links:
Apollo 14 at NSSDC

Yesterday's LPOD: The Golden Triad

Tomorrow's LPOD: Clementine Atlas

Author & Editor:
Charles A. Wood



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