Archive for the Lunar Exploration Category

LRO Sees Bouncing, Rolling Boulders on the Moon | Universe Today

Posted in astro blogs, Lunar Exploration, moon, NASA, observing, robotic astronomy, space, Student Astronomy with tags , , on September 5, 2009 by bellaireastro

I saw a really cool post over on Universe Today about the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and yet another close-up of the moon.

This time there is evidence that really big boulders rolled down the slopes of the Tsiolkovskiy Crater

Closeup of LROC image showing boulders that have rolled down the slope of Tsiolkovskiy Crater.  Credit: NASA

You can see the path the boulders took and the tracks they left behind them.

Tsiolkovskiy Crater from LROC. Click for larger "Zoomifiable" version. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

The crater rim in stark relief in this image. Dark and deep it looks!

LRO Images of Apollo Landing Sites

Posted in astronomical history, IYA, Lunar Exploration, moon, NASA, observing, robotic astronomy, space, Student Astronomy with tags , , on July 18, 2009 by bellaireastro

Amateur astronomers are often asked if one can see the Apollo landing sites with their telescope and the answer is no. Even with Hubble we can’t get the needed resolution for such small scale structures. But the NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is in a high orbit around the Moon as part of a series of new lunar missions and on July 17th the LRO team released a series of images of the Apollo landing sites. You can clearly see the spacecraft and the shadows they cast but the LRO is still a long way from the lowest orbit which happens in August so I suspect better resolution images will come later in the year.

Labeled LROC image of Apollo 11 landing siteLabeled LROC image of Apollo 16 landing site

Notice the proximity of the HUGE craters! Too close for comfort!

There is a lot of talk about the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing which is coming up on July 20th, 2009. Of course there are those that still believe NASA faked the entire thing. I wonder if these images will change anyone’s mind.

The image showing the Apollo 14 landing site shows what the LRO team claims are the tracks of the astronauts as they set up scientific equipment on the lunar surface. That is just incredible stuff.

Labeled LROC image of Apollo 14 landing site

Seriously… astronaut tracks. COOL!

40 Years Ago Today Apollo 11 Launched

Posted in astronomical history, IYA, Lunar Exploration, moon, NASA, space, The Big Picture with tags on July 16, 2009 by bellaireastro

Apollo 11 launched was 40 years ago today. The great photo blogging site “The Big Picture” posted a fantastic set of images documenting the entire trip.

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon July 20th 1969.

There is a flash driven and quite cool site dedicated to remembering the Apollo 11 Moon landing called WeChooseTheMoon.org so check it out.

Gibbous July Moon

Posted in Lunar Exploration, moon, NASA, observing, robotic astronomy, space, Student Astronomy, urban skies with tags , , , on July 5, 2009 by bellaireastro

The moon goes through a 28-day cycle with each phase lasting 7 days. Recently I set out to catch the moon during the waxing gibbous phase just a few days before full moon. Gibbous means that more than half the surface of the Moon as seen from Earth is lit up and waxing means a bit more is lit up last night than the night before.

Waxing gibbous July Moon

Waxing gibbous July Moon

Crater Tycho

Crater Tycho

The moon is one of my favorite photographic subjects. Soon I hope to take some late-night/early-morning waning crescent images.

NASA has sent the Lunar Reconnaissance Observer with the another mission in-tow designed to smash into the Moon to aid the search for possible water-ice in lunar craters. This is one of the first images from the spacecraft showing an area near Mare Nubium (sea of clouds).

Near Mare Nubium

Near Mare Nubium