March 23, 2009

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Last Century's Photo

image by LOIRP

Is this the Moon? The low oblique view looks unusual and the range of mountains is unfamiliar. Take a glance at the title of this LPOD to see if that ignites any ancient memory cells. In 1966 Lunar Orbiter 2, while dedicated to high res vertical imaging of possible Apollo landing sites, also took 12 oblique images including a famous view looking north across Copernicus. This was called one of the great photos of the century and indeed is spectacular. The image above is snipped from the middle and shows central peaks on the floor of Copernicus. Boulders outcrop near the summits of the peaks and there is a massive ridge exposed in the large peak in the center. This peak also opens out to the left and looks for all the world like a terrestrial cinder cone that has been breached by a flow of lava that rafted away part of its rim. In fact I made this interpretation once, because Copernicus is about 1 km more shallow that a fresh crater of its diameter should be. Since impact melt should not be a kilometer thick I boldly proposed that volcanic eruptions, from the central peak cinder cone, covered Copernicus' original floor with 1 km of lava. But as various earlier LPODs have shown the floor of Copernicus is partly covered with impact melt... So perhaps there is more variation in the depth/diameter ratios of fresh craters that I thought.

Chuck Wood

Technical Details
This version of the photo of the century is from the reading of the original Orbiter tapes using 40 year old tape drives - the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP).

Related Links
Rükl plate 31

Yesterday's LPOD: Natasha Hills

Tomorrow's LPOD: Lovely Rheita


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