May 31, 2012

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Silvery Spendor

Apollo 15 mosaic processed by Maurice Collins, New Zealand

The WAC mosaics have become the workhorse images of my lunar work, but I love the silvery splendor of the low Sun views of the Moon from the Metric Cameras of the last three Apollo missions. Maurice has here mosaicked together some of the most spectacular examples - the Apollo 15 images of the northern half of the Aristarchus Plateau. Today's large LPOD view is only 25% of the scale of the full res images but is big enough to cause most jaws to drop. The Quick Map and other mosaics from the LRO WAC were specifically obtained with a high enough illumination angle to depict most of the lunar surface, but the Metric Camera simply ran continuously so that illumination ranged from a hyper bright full Moon to these magnificent terminator views. The shame of Apollo is that the last three missions were cancelled so that we lost half of the total Metric Camera coverage that might have been obtained, including the southern half of the Plateau. The LRO WAC team is collecting many images at low Sun angles so perhaps someday they will surprise us with new mosaics that look as dramatic as this. And maybe, if we can dream, there will be a high Sun mosaic too so tiny albedo features can be compared to topo views to better improve understanding. In the meantime feast on half of the great Plateau, noticing probable buried craters and super sinuous rilles.

Chuck Wood

Related Links
Rükl plate 18

Yesterday's LPOD: A Bump in an Ocean

Tomorrow's LPOD: Why?


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