Skip to main content

Lunar camera team releases months' worth of images

March 15, 2011

Highlighted in NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) team’s data release today, the final set of data from the mission's Exploration Phase along with the first measurements from the Science Phase, are new products from the imaging system known as LROC – short for Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera.

Under the watchful eye of Arizona State University professor Mark Robinson, the LROC team added to the collection of raw data and high-level products by releasing new images acquired between Sept. 16, 2010 and Dec. 15, 2010.

The complete data set contains the raw information, known as the experiment data records or EDRs, which are processed into calibrated data records (CDRs). CDRs are then converted into high-level products such as mosaic images and maps, collectively known as reduced data records (RDRs).

According to Robinson, a professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, his team’s release includes 69,505 EDR images totaling 8,4981 gigabytes and 69,528 CDR images totaling 17,651 gigabytes worth of data.

The LROC imaging system consists of two Narrow Angle Cameras (NACs) to provide high-resolution images, and a Wide Angle Camera (WAC) to provide 100-meter resolution images in seven color bands over a 57-km swath. This is the LROC team’s first RDR, which represents a culmination of many months of work calibrating, map projecting, and creating mosaics and topographic maps from NAC and WAC images.

“The RDR release includes a global WAC monochrome mosaic (100 meter scale), NAC mosaics (meter scale) for 40 regions of interest (ROI), numerous NAC topography (2 meter scale) products, NAC North and South Polar mosaics (2 meter scale), two example WAC UV and VIS regional mosaics (100 and 400 meter scale), and over 8,000 WAC North and South Pole coregistered images used to create movies of each poles lighting conditions over time,” describes Robinson. “The RDR release totals over 8,400 images totaling over 2 terabytes of data.”

One of the many products of this release is the image highlighted today: an orthographic reprojection of the WAC global mosaic centered on the youngest large basin on the Moon, Orientale. This basin is barely visible on the western limb of the Moon as seen from the Earth. Its existence was not confirmed until spacecraft sent back images of the farside 50 years ago. Unlike other large basins Orientale has very little mare filling its interior, so the basin structure is easily seen. The new WAC Orientale mosaic also reveals striking detail in the far-flung ejecta blanket. You can explore the Orientale basin at 100 m/pixel and/or revisit an early version of the WAC Orientale mosaic.

The final EDRs, CDRs and RDRs from the exploration phase are now available through several of the Planetary Data System nodes and the LROC website.