Sunday, June 02, 2024

Rotating The Moon | NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

Rotating The Moon | NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

No one, presently, sees the Moon rotate like this. This is because the Earth's moon is tidally locked to the Earth, showing us only one side. Given modern digital technology, however, combined with many detailed images returned by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), a high resolution virtual Moon rotation movie has been composed. The featured time-lapse video starts with the standard Earth view—the near side of the Moon. Quickly, though, Mare Orientale, a large crater with a dark center that is difficult to see from the Earth, rotates into view just below the equator. 

From an entire lunar month condensed into 24 seconds, the video clearly shows that the Earth side of the Moon contains an abundance of dark lunar maria, while the lunar far side is dominated by bright lunar highlands. Currently, over 32 new missions to the Moon are under active development from multiple countries and companies, including NASA's Artemis program. They aim to land people on the Moon again within the next few years.

This year, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) celebrates its 15th anniversary orbiting the Moon (2009-2024). This mission has given scientists the largest volume of data ever collected by a planetary science mission at NASA. Considering that success and the continuing functionality of the spacecraft and its instruments, NASA awarded the mission an extended mission phase to continue operations. This is LRO's 5th extended science mission (ESM5). LRO continues to be one of NASA's most valuable tools for advancing lunar science.

Video Credit: NASA, LRO, Arizona State University (ASU)

Duration: 24 seconds

Release Date: June 2, 2024

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