Take a tour of the Moon

USING ELEVATION AND IMAGE DATA returned by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), this animation takes the viewer on a virtual tour of the Moon.

Unfortunately there’s no narration or music track, but the visuals are stunning enough. Try zooming the YouTube window to full screen to get the best view.

The tour visits a number of interesting sites chosen to illustrate a wide variety of lunar terrain features. Some are on the near side and are familiar to both professional and amateur observers on Earth, while others can only be seen clearly from space.

Some are large and old (Orientale, South Pole-Aitken), others are smaller and younger (Tycho, Aristarchus, Shackleton).

Constantly shadowed areas near the poles are hard to photograph but easier to measure with altimetry, while several of the Apollo landing sites, all relatively near the equator, have been imaged at resolutions as high as 25 centimetres per pixel.

The shape of the terrain in this animation is based primarily on data from LRO’s laser altimeter (LOLA), supplemented by stereo image data from its wide-angle camera (LROC WAC) and from Japan’s Kaguya mission. The global surface colour is from the Clementine mission.

Adapted from information issued by NASA / Goddard Space Flight Centre Scientific Visualization Studio.

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