Pix: LRO completes first phase of its mission!

By Phil Plait | September 16, 2010 7:40 am

[Click the images below to see my favorite pictures from LRO!]

lro_apollo17flag
lro_apollo12
lro_apollo14_anaglyph
lro_apollo16_noon
lro_apolloimpact
lro_bridge
lro_earth
lro_erlanger_crater
lro_landslide
lro_lunarpit
lro_orientale
lro_spacecraft_art
lro_triple_sunset
lro_volcano
onegiantleap

CATEGORIZED UNDER: NASA, Pretty pictures
MORE ABOUT: LRO, Moon

Comments (39)

Links to this Post

  1. One Year for LRO « Science Today: Beyond the Headlines | September 16, 2010
  1. Cool post with the slideshow and changing text! Maybe you have do this this before and I just haven’t noticed. The pictures and explanations are fantastic once again.

  2. CJSF

    Is there a public document on the differences between the exploration and science phases of this mission?

    CJSF

  3. jaranath

    What’s phase 2?

  4. Davidlpf

    Yet there are probably moon hoax believers still out there.

  5. Minos

    Not only did the astronauts take a pay cut while in space (considered to be housed & fed at government expense), but their reserved parking spot was 400000km away? They really did make great sacrifices.

  6. jaranath

    Oh, iPhone fail…now I can see the caption. Stand back everyone…Phase 2 is SCIENCE! :)

  7. JOz

    phase 2 – ?
    phase 3 – PROFIT!

  8. Michel

    The Moon is still a favourite of mine to watch through the scope. When the seeing is good and you can use a very high magnification… phew
    Flytime.
    :))

  9. BradC

    Can someone help me with the *second* lunar land bridge in the linked picture? The hint is “it’s fairly close to the one shown above and about half its size”.

    I see some pairs of side-by-side craters/caverns, but nothing that looks obviously like a land bridge.

  10. Chris

    Thanks for this. We get so accustomed to seeing the moon up there that we think its been fully explored and explained. We are so focused on distant alien worlds sometimes we forget the truly alien one right on our doorstep.

  11. Jeff

    Yeah, but they “photoshopped” the Apollo landing sites: NOT.

    I am actually a recovering HBer and phil’s BAUT forum, I had an argument with scientists at BAUT and they convinced me that the moon landings were real:

    the moon rocks were too detailed to be faked, many people tracked the Apollo flights all the way to the moon, the videos of the Astronauts sauntering around the lunar surface are too realistic in 1/6 g to be faked, the mission controllers would have known what the hey was going on, and many other air-tight evidences, and now LRO confirms that they landed there.

    As for the astronauts, I am proud of what they did, not at all proud of their behavoir afterwords, instead of being strong vocal advocates for manned spaceflight, they’ve been quiet as churchmice and nobody knows who these guys even are. And their mummed stupors have let manned spaceflight make a giant leap backward into the totally ludicrous space shuttle (yawn!!!!!) and now a big nothing.

  12. Hi BradC

    Using the one show as centre of clock face – other one at 2 o’clock position ???? View at 100% and it’s about 25cm along horizontal rule… Hope that helps :)

  13. Steve Odendahl

    As the LRO Mission Director for NASA, I am pleased with the performance of the LRO Spacecraft and Operations team throughout the Exploration phase of the mission. The instrument teams have also performed magnificently. I look forward to continuing this mission for many more years of superb science return.

  14. BradC

    @Nathanial – I considered that one, but not only is it far larger than “half the size” of the original (per the hint), but the left crater looks like a “normal” independent crater, not like a cavern with an “underpass” to the right cavern.

    Maybe its more clear in other light.

  15. See your point :) OK 80cm right at 4.30ish??????

  16. MattF

    Jeff: instead of being strong vocal advocates for manned spaceflight, they’ve been quiet as churchmice and nobody knows who these guys even are

    It’s not their job to be strong vocal advocates for manned spaceflight, and never was. It was their job to fly to the Moon and back. That’s it.

    You can’t blame people who did something if the vast majority of the public gets bored with that something. People’s priorities are primarily the fault of the people who hold them.

  17. bandsaw

    The slightly disconcerting thing for me about the Orientale shot is how recent that crater appears to be. The lava pool in the middle is scarcely disturbed. Imagine if the aim of that rock had been just a little different. Yet another reason I’m glad we have the moon we do.

  18. BradC

    @Nathanial – If I’ve found the area you are referring to (an area criss-crossed by several unusual looking “creases” that kind of remind me of crinkled paper), then I do see some interesting candidates in that area.

  19. Hi again BradC

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/29774727@N04/4995899469/ this is the one I was referring to. Almost on right hand edge of LROC frame…

    What do you think??

  20. @ BradC and Nathanial: If you continue along the 2 o’clock vector, you’ll see one that fits Phil’s description. It is about 80% further than the one you found in post 12. It is a lot more rounded and you can see the contours of the lavatube underneath. A bit further down the tube there is a much fresher looking cave-in – probably from an impact.
    Cheers, Regner

  21. NickF

    I recall that one product of LOR was to be a 3D visualization of the moon’s surface in high definition. I still have not seen this yet? Is it available or still in the works? It would appear that we have everything we need now: detailed images and detailed elevation maps. It would be amazing to tour such a system. Imagine exploring the area around the Apollo 17 landing site and climbing up the canyon to Nelson crater, the “farthest place” humans have every been.

  22. Beautiful!

    However, (I’m such a dork) I’m squeeing over the plugin you used for this post! I need to know what it is and find a reason to use it!

    Hopefully soon, I calm down long enough to actually read the word under the beautiful and breathtaking images, instead of playing with the plugin.

    EDIT:

    OOOO, you tricky man! I think I know how you did it! I’m going to have to play with the plugin for a bit and test this.

  23. In Phase 2, they use the LRO’s giant laser to carve “Chairface Chippendale” into the moon’s surface.

  24. Hi All –

    I’ve managed to create a 3D (red/cyan) image of the bridge featured in this article –

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/29774727@N04/4996700214/

    Hope you like…

    Nathanial

  25. To Regner Trampedach – Hi and well spotted :) – thank you for the tip-off.

  26. GlidingPig

    Some of these are on the Big Picture today…and it has some other really nice pics

    http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/ for those not familiar.

  27. Jeff

    for Matt:

    “It’s not their job to be strong vocal advocates for manned spaceflight, and never was. It was their job to fly to the Moon and back. That’s it.

    You can’t blame people who did something if the vast majority of the public gets bored with that something. People’s priorities are primarily the fault of the people who hold them.”

    you are certainly entitled to your opinion.

    I just fundamentally disagree. These guys should have been picked not only for going to the moon, but because there’s only a dozen of them, they should have also been picked for their PR skills, because this is high stakes stuff. As usual, NASA is full of stodgy nerdy engineers, but abysmall failures as people who can relate to the public: which is why we are nowhere today in manned spaceflight, which is inexcusable because they went to the moon.

  28. Chris A.

    @Phil:

    From the “Second Mission to the Moon” caption:

    “I have a wine label made in honor of Apollo 12, showing astronaut Al Bean holding a glass of wine. Years ago I got him to sign it, and it’s one of my most cherished momentos.”

    Umm, I think you mean “mementos.” Unless the autographed wine label only lasted one second…in Spanish. :)

  29. Peter

    i dont expect this to be published.

    I just find it *weird* that a person can write about ‘giant laser to carve “Chairface Chippendale” into the moon’s surface’ and get it past the mods

    but my comment that it was ‘technically brilliant, engineering genius but not as detailed as a satellite photo’ got moderated to the trash folder

    seems that any reaction has to be super-preppy-chearleader positive or it is not tolerated…no dissention will be allowed here.

    ‘KTHNKSBYE

  30. Peter (30): The comment you refer to is sitting right there in the Earth pic post.

    Also, there are no mods, just a spam filter.

    Also, you jumped to a major conclusion that I filter out anything that isn’t positive, and no dissension is allowed. That is vastly incorrect, as even a brief scan if the comments on any of my posts will show.

    I noticed on your Twitter page you call yourself a skeptic. A skeptic works on evidence, not supposition and speculation.

  31. CybeRolf

    The blog is broken! The pictures disappear when the page is fully loaded, and there is nothing to click on to see the show. Please have the Webmaster fix it! Funny thing, all the ads seem to be here…

  32. CybeRolf

    Oh, well, it works in IE, but not Firefox, at least my version.

  33. Messier Tidy Upper

    My congratulations and thanks to the Lunar Reconnaissence Orbiter team(s) & thanks to the BA for this LRO gallery and keeping us all up to date here. Love your work! :-) 8)

  34. Messier Tidy Upper

    @11. Jeff Says:

    As for the astronauts, I am proud of what they did, not at all proud of their behavoir afterwords, instead of being strong vocal advocates for manned spaceflight, they’ve been quiet as churchmice and nobody knows who these guys even are.

    I would strongly take issue with that assertion there, Jeff. I don’t think your view there is actually the case at all.

    Firstly, *nobody* knows? Really? :roll:

    I, personally, can name all the Apollo astronauts off the top of my head for one. Now, yes, okay I am unusual in this because, yes I’m a space (& history) geek & most people can’t but I do think everyone knows of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and probably Jim Lovell and the Apollo 13 crew as well.

    Secondly, they’ve been “as quiet as churchmice” ..? Really?

    Well, NO, they haven’t.

    It is true that Neil Armstrong has been reclusive and very private since his NASA days ended. However, Buzz Aldrin has indeed been a vocal advocate of space as have others.

    Not all astronauts – who, don’t forget, started off as fighter pilots not PR speakers for obvious reasons – have the same personalities, desires or abilities. Al Bean paints & on just one subject too – his lunar sojourn, Al Shepherd went into buisness – & golf – in a big way. Many incl. Buzz have experienced some major life changes and traumas post NASA – and many have written about their experiences again notably Buzz Aldrin whose autobiography ‘Magnificent Desolation’ I would strongly recommend. Ditto for Jim Lovell’s excellent eponymous account of Apollo 13 also titled ‘Lost Moon’.

    Other astronuats have been vocal and prominent in other ways that have less to do wth advocating for space and more to do with personal issues and interests. Edger Mitchell (some would say regrettably) has spoken up publicly about his belief in UFO’s of the whacky Flying Saucer & Gub’mint Conspiracy Theory variety. There have been several blog posts by the BA on that. Mitchell also heads his own new age religio-philosophical organisation. Harrison Schmitt has been an outspoken critic of the scientific consensus on Anthropogenic Global Warming. James Irwin and Charlie Duke have been religious preachers.

    If you want a fascinating and well-written exploration of what the Apollo astronauts did post Moon landings then I strongly recommend you read ‘Moondust : In search of the Men who fell to Earth’ by Andrew Smith (Thorndike Press, 2005) who went out and met & interviewed all or most of them.

    Point is, they’re not all the same, some have been interested in space advocacy and some have been more vocal than others. Sadly too, some – Alan Shepherd, Pete Conrad, Wally Schirra, Jim Irwin, Jack Swigert – are no longer with us having passed away since.

    Not only that but remember the Apollo astronauts *have* done an awful lot of advocacy for NASA and for space exploration and some of them still do. Now they’re in their 80’s, they won’t be around much longer. It isn’t fair to blame them or ask them to do too much more in my view.

    Anyway, *what* precisely do you want the surviving Apollo astronauts to do in terms of advocacy now, Jeff?

    If you think they aren’t speaking up you may need to reconsider. Even the famously reclusive Neil Armstrong recently strongly publicly criticised Obama’s NASA plan and its cancellation of the Ares-Constellation program for instance.

    And their mummed stupors have let manned spaceflight make a giant leap backward into the totally ludicrous space shuttle (yawn!!!!!) and now a big nothing.

    You think the shuttle’s a “yawn”? :-(

    I don’t.

    There’s a big part of the problem methinks. The public haven’t supported the space program enough. Partly that’s a matter of advocacy but its also an issue with the media reporting, with people & their lousy thinking and priorities generally in my view.

    Yes, I’ll admit the shuttle hasn’t lived up to expectations. I am very disappointed in the lack of progress with manned spaceflight and development post-Apollo. I thought we’d have a permanent Lunar colony and people on Mars by now too.

    But let’s not overlook what we have achieved, what we have built and are still working on either. The shuttle is one of the most advanced and sophisticated and marvellous machines ever built. It has flown more people into orbit than any other craft and done an awful lot.

    The International Space Station doesn’t float a lot of people’s boats but, remember, they still haven’t even finished building it yet so give it a chance. It is a remarkable construction, a remarkable accomplishment in its own right & has already produced some results, the ISS is another step on a path that can take us to the planets and stars if *we* choose wisely.

    If we don’t so choose, if instead we say its all too hard, too expensive, too much effort and opt to stagnate and withdraw to Earth to rot then we will lose out. Bigtime. Other nations may succeed where we’ve failed – and we may not like what they do with the High Frontier & the advantages they’ll get over us esp. in knowledge and technology. Eventually, if no one spreads Humanity off this one single rock there’ll be a comet or asteroid with Humanity’s name on it and we’ll go extinct.

    Space travel and exploration, settlement on other worlds isn’t just an option, a luxury we can forgo, in my view it is essential to our survival and future growth.

    That we haven’t progressed so far is not something I blame on the astronauts but on the accountants and the politicians.

  35. MattF

    Jeff: you are certainly entitled to your opinion.

    Aw, gee, thanks. Considering that you apparently think you should be the one to determine exactly what other people ought to be doing, I guess I’ll bow and scrape and be grateful for every smidgen of latitude you permit me in my behavior.

    (Do I really need to put sarcasm tags around that?)

    The fact of the matter is that it’s not my opinion. They were hired to fly to the Moon and back, not as spokesmen for manned spaceflight. That is fact. End of story.

    Jeff: These guys should have been picked not only for going to the moon, but because there’s only a dozen of them,

    Back when they were hired, it was not commonly accepted in NASA’s ranks that the public would bore of it. In other words, they didn’t expect it to stop at 12 people.

    Jeff: they should have also been picked for their PR skills, because this is high stakes stuff.

    Yes. Exactly. It’s high stakes stuff, where expertise is paramount. Willingness to be a spokesperson for the cause definitely takes a back seat; it’s not even a serious consideration.

    Only those deluded enough to confuse flashiness with substance would insist that the astronauts should have had a certain amount of pizazz — however much that should have been to keep the public interested. The importance of an enterprise does not necessarily correlate to its ability to amuse.

    Consider other areas of science, where people labor to make things better for everyone. Do you know the names of the engineers who designed your car’s safety features, for example? Is it the duty of these engineers to become spokesmen for automobile safety?

    Jeff: As usual, NASA is full of stodgy nerdy engineers, but abysmall failures as people who can relate to the public: which is why we are nowhere today in manned spaceflight, which is inexcusable because they went to the moon.

    Again, not the fault of the astronauts (or the engineers) in question. Just because you do something important doesn’t mean that you have to sing and dance for people’s attention and affection. Why should the astronauts have to wheedle for people’s attention like the latest tawdry celebrity publicity stunt? You seem to want to turn the incredible technical achievement of getting people to the Moon into something glitzy, plastic, and crude, covering the feat of hundreds of thousands in cheap tinsel; and you seem genuinely upset that the entire enterprise isn’t doing it your way.

  36. Captn Tommy

    Interesting Saturn IVB craters, being rather squareish. Notice the Ejecta radial pattern, further on the long side than the short side.

    This, of course,is proof of the Big Belly Flop Theory of energy dispersal, which was used for the original universe galactic dispersion maps before the discovery of the microwave background radiation sphere, proved the Big Bang (Theory) was actually the explosion of an over cooked microwave pizza, near 9:30AM Monday morning Day One.

    Or may be its Friday and I’m going home.
    Enjoy
    Captn Tommy

  37. #35 MTU:
    Your comments about the Apollo astronauts are seconded. Not only can I name them all off the top of my head, but I’ve also had the immense honour and privilege of meeting three of them – Charlie Duke, Alan Bean and Fred Haise.

    #11, #27 Jeff:
    It’s hardly surprising that the astronauts haven’t spent the rest of their lives talking excitedly about their achievement. They were, after all, selected for precisely opposite attributes – i.e. for not being excitable, and for their ability to remain calm and collected in stressful and dangerous situations! As Matt has already said, they were chosen for their attributes as pilots, not as PR men!
    Furthermore, most of them ( with the notable exception of Armstrong ) were serving military officers, and regarded it as doing their job and their duty.
    Let’s also remember that it was not only their achievement – that of the 12 men who landed on the Moon, or the 27 who flew on the missions – but also that of the 400000 other people who worked so hard – often at great cost to their health or their family lives – to get them there.

  38. eleusis

    This is nice, but why are the photographs black and white? Seriously, a 12 MP color camera costs like $100 today. They couldn’t strap one of those on the orbiter? This is 2010. We should have taken that acid-trip worm-hole commute to see the space fetus like NINE years ago, and we’re still taking B&W photographs of an object that we visited in person like 40 years ago.

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