Credit: LRO, Arizona State U., NASA
Explanation: No one, presently, sees the Moon rotate like this. That’s 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 the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), a high resolution virtual Moon rotation movie has now been composed. The above time-lapse video starts with the standard Earth view 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. Two new missions are scheduled to begin exploring the Moon within the year, the first of which is NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE). LADEE, which launched just over a week ago, is scheduled to begin orbiting the Moon in October and will explore the thin and unusual atmosphere of the Moon. In a few months, the Chinese Chang’e 3 is scheduled to launch, a mission that includes a soft lander that will dispatch a robotic rover.
The Moon is the only natural satellite of the Earth and the fifth largest moon in the Solar System.
◊ Sea of Serenity (Latin Mare Serenitatis). The diameter is 700 km. Mare Serenitatis connects with Mare Tranquillitatis to the southeast and borders Mare Vaporum to the southwest. Mare Serenitatis is an example of a mascon, an anomalous gravitational region on the moon.
◊ Sea of Tranquility (Latin Mare Tranquillitatis). The mare material within the basin consists of basalt formed in the intermediate to young age group of the Upper Imbrian epoch. This Mare has a slight bluish tint relative to the rest of the moon and stands out quite well when color is processed and extracted from multiple photographs. The color is likely due to higher metal content in the basaltic soil or rocks.
◊ Sea of Crises (Latin Mare Crisium). Mare Crisium is 555 km (345 mi) in diameter, and 176,000 km2 in area. It has a very flat floor, with a ring of wrinkled ridges toward its outer boundaries. Ghost craters (craters that have largely been buried under deposits of other material), are located to the south.
Equipment: Meade 16 + camera STT 8300
Exposure Time: 1 sec.
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