China has published its first map of the entire lunar surface. The map was created using imagery obtained by the China’s Chang’e 1 lunar orbiting spacecraft. Larger image here. We hope to produce something like this as well once all of our Lunar Orbiter images have been recovered and enhanced.
Lunar Orbiter Imagery and Apollo Landing Site Selection
Source: Apollo Expeditions to the Moon Chapter 5.5 – Mapping and Site Selection
Meanwhile the third member of the automated lunar exploration team had already completed its work. The fifth and last Lunar Orbiter had been launched on August 1, 1967, nearly half a year earlier. When JPL and Hughes began to experience difficulties with Surveyor development, and with the Centaur in deep trouble, NASA decided to back up the entire proaram with a different team and different hardware. The Surveyor Orbiter concept was scrapped, and NASA’s Langley Research Center was directed to plan and carry out a new Lunar Orbiter program, based on the less risky Atlas-Acena D launch vehicle. Langley prepared the necessary specifications and Boeing won the job. Boeing’s proposed design was beautifully straightforward except for one feature, the camera. Instead of being all-electronic as were prior space cameras, the Eastman Kodak camera for the Lunar Orbiter made use of 70-mm film developed on board the spacecraft and then optically scanned and telemetered to Earth. Low-speed film had to be used so as not to be fogged by space radiation. This in turn required the formidable added complexity of image-motion compensation during the instant of exposure. Theoretically, objects as small as three feet could be seen from 30 nautical miles above the surface. If all worked well, this system could provide the quality required for Apollo, but it was tricky, and it barely made it to the launch pad in time to avoid rescheduling.
The youngest big crater on the Moon is Tycho, which is about 53 miles across and nearly 3 miles deep. These Orbiter V photographs reveal its intricate structure. (Area in the rectangle above is pictured in higher resolution below.) A high central peak arises from the rough floor, and the crater wall has extensively slumped. The comparative scarcity of small craters within Tycho indicate its relatively recent origin. Flow features seen in both pictures could have been molten lava, volcanic debris, or fluidized impact-ejected material. Surveyor VII landed about 18 miles north of Tycho, in the area indicated by the white circle above. Enlargements of these pictures show an abundance of fissures and large fractured blocks, particularly near the uppermost wall scarp.
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The lunar north pole – SMART-1 mosaic
A new map obtained with SMART-1 data shows the geography and illumination of the lunar north pole. Such maps will be of great use for future lunar explorers. The lunar poles are very interesting for future science and exploration of the Moon mainly because of their exposure to sunlight. They display areas of quasi-eternal light, have a stable thermal environment and are close to dark areas that could host water ice – potential future lunar base sites. More