NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio has published a unique new image of our Moon’s surface in stunning detail.
The image is a mosaic of 1,231 separate images of the near side of the Moon taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).
The completed mosaic measured 12800×12800 pixels or 164 megapixels. It can be freely downloaded from NASA as a 72.9 megabyte file.
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The separate images were all shot during the summer of 2018 by the LRO’s Narrow Angle Camera. A CCD camera attached to a telescope, it has a 700mm focal length and can resolve the lunar surface to less than one meter per pixel.
Every single image is the best one of that area chosen from over 10,000 taken by the LRO, according to the best match of brightness and gradient.
What the mosaic doesn’t show is any of the Moon’s far side. Its mistakenly called the dark side of the Moon by some despite the fact that is waxes and wanes in the exact opposite manner to the near side.
This montage of Moon images was released to announce the recent publication of the LRO’s 2018 image data:
In orbit of the Moon since 2009, the LRO has now produced over a million gigabytes of image data, all of them freely available.
The LROC website also has special features on the Apollo Landing Sites as well as 21st Century Landing Sites and even 21st Century Spacecraft Impacts
However, perhaps the most beautiful way to experience LRO’s incredible images of the Moon’s surface is in this YouTube video during which LRO imagery is set to Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune (Moonlight in English). It was shown during NASA’s 60th anniversary in 2018.
There are several ultra high-resolution images of the Moon now available online.
Back in 2011—soon after the LRO began its work at the Moon—a 24,000 x 24,000 pixel (576 megapixel) images was made available online to zoom in on, as well as to download in two versions (the largest is over a gigabyte).
In 2017 the LRO team released the highest resolution near-global topographic map of the Moon ever created. It shows the surface shape and features over nearly the entire Moon with a pixel scale close to 328 feet. It’s available online.
Another oddity available online from NASA is a false color composite of 15 images of the Moon taken through three color filters by its Galileo spacecraft as it flew past the Moon in 1992 on its way to Jupiter.
Last year astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy captured 11,022 x 11,022 pixel (121-megapixel) image of the Moon entitled “Waxing Through December.” It was posted on Reddit so is available online.
Also worth seeing its yesterday’s Astronomy Picture of the Day, which featured a composite image of 48 photos of the Moon in different colors taken by astrophotographer Marcella Giulia Pace.
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.
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