APOD: Rotating Moon from LRO (2013 Sep 16)

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APOD: Rotating Moon from LRO (2013 Sep 16)

Postby APOD Robot » Mon Sep 16, 2013 4:09 am

Image Rotating Moon from LRO

Explanation: No one, presently, sees the Moon rotate like this. That's because the Earth's moon is tidally locked to the Earth, showing us only one side. Given modern digital technology, however, combined with many detailed images returned by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), a high resolution virtual Moon rotation movie has now been composed. The above time-lapse video starts with the standard Earth view of the Moon. Quickly, though, Mare Orientale, a large crater with a dark center that is difficult to see from the Earth, rotates into view just below the equator. From an entire lunar month condensed into 24 seconds, the video clearly shows that the Earth side of the Moon contains an abundance of dark lunar maria, while the lunar far side is dominated by bright lunar highlands. Two new missions are scheduled to begin exploring the Moon within the year, the first of which is NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE). LADEE, which launched just over a week ago, is scheduled to begin orbiting the Moon in October and will explore the thin and unusual atmosphere of the Moon. In a few months, the Chinese Chang'e 3 is scheduled to launch, a mission that includes a soft lander that will dispatch a robotic rover.

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Re: APOD: Rotating Moon from LRO (2013 Sep 16)

Postby Beyond » Mon Sep 16, 2013 5:03 am

Ah, mooned from the backside. That's normal, down here. Down here, the 'terminator' line runs down the middle. :yes: :lol2:
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Re: APOD: Rotating Moon from LRO (2013 Sep 16)

Postby firstmagnitude » Mon Sep 16, 2013 5:46 am

Where's the cheese?
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Re: APOD: Rotating Moon from LRO (2013 Sep 16)

Postby Wes D » Mon Sep 16, 2013 5:54 am

I wonder where will the Chinese land their rover. Probably on the near side of the moon, being that the far side appears to be a no go area.
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Re: APOD: Rotating Moon from LRO (2013 Sep 16)

Postby neufer » Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:39 am



Wes D wrote:
I wonder where will the Chinese land their rover.

Probably on the near side of the moon, being that the far side appears to be a no go area.

Lousy communications from the Far Side.

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Re: APOD: Rotating Moon from LRO (2013 Sep 16)

Postby Skytreker » Mon Sep 16, 2013 3:25 pm

Weeeeeee.... I am captain Kirk! :D
"Enter standard orbit Mr Sulu. Scotty, 3 men to beam down!"
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Re: APOD: Rotating Moon from LRO (2013 Sep 16)

Postby MarkBour » Mon Sep 16, 2013 3:32 pm

I suppose that there should be more impact craters on the far side of the moon.
The number of meteors coming from deeper space should probably be more or less constant, but the Earth should shield the moon preferentially toward the side that faces us. Anyone feel like they could tackle this with some rigorous math, or computer simulations?
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Re: APOD: Rotating Moon from LRO (2013 Sep 16)

Postby Chris Peterson » Mon Sep 16, 2013 3:39 pm

MarkBour wrote:I suppose that there should be more impact craters on the far side of the moon.
The number of meteors coming from deeper space should probably be more or less constant, but the Earth should shield the moon preferentially toward the side that faces us. Anyone feel like they could tackle this with some rigorous math, or computer simulations?

The Earth doesn't act as much of a shield. Geometrically, it only blocks a tiny fraction of the sky from the viewpoint of the Moon, and it also acts as a gravitational lens, capable of deflecting bodies that would otherwise have missed the Moon into it instead.

I believe that simulations demonstrate a net effect that is slightly shielding, but not enough to even show up in crater statistics.
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Far Side Story.

Postby neufer » Mon Sep 16, 2013 3:55 pm

MarkBour wrote:
I suppose that there should be more impact craters on the far side of the moon.
The number of meteors coming from deeper space should probably be more or less constant, but the Earth should shield the moon preferentially toward the side that faces us. Anyone feel like they could tackle this with some rigorous math, or computer simulations?

The Earth is a relatively small shield (though, perhaps, a somewhat larger gravitational focusing lens).

1) Early in the Moon's formation it developed a thick crust on one side.
2) This unbalanced crust eventually became tidally locked away from the Earth.

Hence, it is the dynamics of the Moon not the dynamics of meteors that defined the Near Side/Far Side asymmetry.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon#Volcanic_features wrote:

West Side
Click to play embedded YouTube video.
<<The dark and relatively featureless lunar plains which can clearly be seen with the naked eye are called maria (Latin for "seas"; singular mare), since they were believed by ancient astronomers to be filled with water. They are now known to be vast solidified pools of ancient basaltic lava. While similar to terrestrial basalts, the mare basalts have much higher abundances of iron and are completely lacking in minerals altered by water. The majority of these lavas erupted or flowed into the depressions associated with impact basins. Several geologic provinces containing shield volcanoes and volcanic domes are found within the near side maria.

Maria are found almost exclusively on the near side of the Moon, covering 31% of the surface on the near side, compared with a few scattered patches on the far side covering only 2%. This is thought to be due to a concentration of heat-producing elements under the crust on the near side, seen on geochemical maps obtained by Lunar Prospector's gamma-ray spectrometer, which would have caused the underlying mantle to heat up, partially melt, rise to the surface and erupt. Most of the Moon's mare basalts erupted during the Imbrian period, 3.0–3.5 billion years ago, although some radiometrically dated samples are as old as 4.2 billion years, and the youngest eruptions, dated by crater counting, appear to have been only 1.2 billion years ago.

The lighter-coloured regions of the Moon are called terrae, or more commonly highlands, since they are higher than most maria. They have been radiometrically dated as forming 4.4 billion years ago, and may represent plagioclase cumulates of the lunar magma ocean. In contrast to the Earth, no major lunar mountains are believed to have formed as a result of tectonic events.

The concentration of mare on the Near Side likely reflects the substantially thicker crust of the highlands of the Far Side, which may have formed in a slow-velocity impact of a second terran moon a few tens of millions of years after the formations of the moons themselves.>>
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Re: APOD: Rotating Moon from LRO (2013 Sep 16)

Postby PattySue » Mon Sep 16, 2013 3:58 pm

Is it possible to download this video or even allowed? It would make a great wallpaper for a PC.
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Re: APOD: Rotating Moon from LRO (2013 Sep 16)

Postby geckzilla » Mon Sep 16, 2013 4:03 pm

PattySue wrote:Is it possible to download this video or even allowed? It would make a great wallpaper for a PC.


There are a few stills on this page: http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/news/index.php ... -Moon.html
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Re: APOD: Rotating Moon from LRO (2013 Sep 16)

Postby cindy4444 » Mon Sep 16, 2013 4:27 pm

What a fascinating video. I had no idea the two sides of the moon were so different. The earth has really made a difference in the make up of its satellite. I expect other planets moons must also show some differences on different sides or is our moon the only one locked to its planet?
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Re: APOD: Rotating Moon from LRO (2013 Sep 16)

Postby neufer » Mon Sep 16, 2013 4:53 pm

cindy4444 wrote:
What a fascinating video. I had no idea the two sides of the moon were so different. The earth has really made a difference in the make up of its satellite. I expect other planets moons must also show some differences on different sides or is our moon the only one locked to its planet?

Many (most?) moons are locked to their planet
but few seem to have such an obvious (though superficial) near side/far side dichotomy.

However, Saturn's Iapetus does have an east side/west side dichotomy:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iapetus_%28moon%29 wrote:
<<Iapetus (Greek: Ιαπετός) is the third-largest natural satellite of Saturn, and eleventh-largest in the Solar System. Iapetus is best known for its dramatic 'two-tone' coloration, but discoveries by the Cassini mission in 2007 have revealed several other unusual physical characteristics, such as an equatorial ridge that runs about halfway around Iapetus.

In the 17th century, Giovanni Cassini observed that he could see Iapetus only on the west side of Saturn and never on the east. He correctly deduced that Iapetus is locked in synchronous rotation about Saturn and that one side of Iapetus is darker than the other, conclusions later confirmed by larger telescopes.

The difference in colouring between the two Iapetian hemispheres is striking. The leading hemisphere and sides are dark (albedo 0.03–0.05) with a slight reddish-brown coloring, while most of the trailing hemisphere and poles are bright (albedo 0.5–0.6, almost as bright as Europa). Thus, the apparent magnitude of the trailing hemisphere is around 10.2, whereas that of the leading hemisphere is around 11.9 – beyond the capacity of the best telescopes in the 17th century. The pattern of coloration is analogous to a spherical yin-yang symbol or the two sections of a tennis ball. The dark region is named Cassini Regio, and the bright region is divided into Roncevaux Terra north of the equator, and Saragossa Terra south of it. The original dark material is believed to have come from outside Iapetus, but now it consists principally of lag from the sublimation of ice from the warmer areas of Iapetus's surface. It contains organic compounds similar to the substances found in primitive meteorites or on the surfaces of comets; Earth-based observations have shown it to be carbonaceous, and it probably includes cyano-compounds such as frozen hydrogen cyanide polymers.

On September 10, 2007 the Cassini orbiter passed within 1,640 kilometres of Iapetus and demonstrated that both hemispheres are heavily cratered. The color dichotomy of scattered patches of light and dark material in the transition zone between Cassini Regio and the bright areas exists at very small scales, down to the imaging resolution of 30 meters. There is dark material filling in low-lying regions, and light material on the weakly illuminated pole-facing slopes of craters, but no shades of grey. The dark material is a very thin layer, only a few tens of centimeters (approx. one foot) thick at least in some areas, according to Cassini radar imaging and the fact that very small meteor impacts have punched through to the ice underneath.

NASA scientists now believe that the dark material is lag (residue) from the sublimation (evaporation) of water ice on the surface of Iapetus, possibly darkened further upon exposure to sunlight. Because of its slow rotation of 79 days (equal to its revolution and the longest in the Saturnian system), Iapetus would have had the warmest daytime surface temperature and coldest nighttime temperature in the Saturnian system even before the development of the color contrast; near the equator, heat absorption by the dark material results in a daytime temperatures of 129 K in the dark Cassini Regio compared to 113 K in the bright regions. The difference in temperature means that ice preferentially sublimates from Cassini, and deposits in the bright areas and especially at the even colder poles. Over geologic time scales, this would further darken Cassini Regio and brighten the rest of Iapetus, creating a positive feedback thermal runaway process of ever greater contrast in albedo, ending with all exposed ice being lost from Cassini. It is estimated that over a period of one billion years at current temperatures, dark areas of Iapetus would lose about 20 meters of ice to sublimation, while the bright regions would lose only 10 centimeters, not considering the ice transferred from the dark regions. This model explains the distribution of light and dark areas, the absence of shades of grey, and the thinness of the dark material covering Cassini. The redistribution of ice is facilitated by Iapetus's weak gravity, which means that at ambient temperatures a water molecule can migrate from one hemisphere to the other in just a few hops.

However, a separate process of color segregation would be required to get the thermal feedback started. The initial dark material is thought to have been debris blasted by meteors off small outer moons in retrograde orbits and swept up by the leading hemisphere of Iapetus. The core of this model is some 30 years old, and was revived by the September 2007 flyby.

Light debris outside of Iapetus's orbit, either knocked free from the surface of a moon by micrometeoroid impacts or created in a collision, would spiral in as its orbit decays. It would have been darkened by exposure to sunlight. A portion of any such material that crossed Iapetus's orbit would have been swept up by its leading hemisphere, coating it; once this process created a modest contrast in albedo, and so a contrast in temperature, the thermal feedback described above would have come into play and exaggerated the contrast. In support of the hypothesis, simple numerical models of the exogenic deposition and thermal water redistribution processes can closely predict the two-toned appearance of Iapetus. A subtle color dichotomy between Iapetus's leading and trailing hemispheres, with the former being more reddish, can in fact be observed in comparisons between both bright and dark areas of the two hemispheres. In contrast to the elliptical shape of Cassini Regio, the color contrast closely follows the hemisphere boundaries; the gradation between the differently colored regions is gradual, on a scale of hundreds of km. The next moon inward from Iapetus, chaotically rotating Hyperion, also has an unusual reddish color.

The largest reservoir of such infalling material is Phoebe, the largest of the outer moons. Although Phoebe's composition is closer to that of the bright hemisphere of Iapetus than the dark one, dust from Phoebe would only be needed to establish a contrast in albedo, and presumably would have been largely obscured by later sublimation. The discovery of a tenuous disk of material in the plane of and just inside Phoebe's orbit was announced on 6 October 2009, supporting the model. The disk extends from 128 to 207 times the radius of Saturn, while Phoebe orbits at an average distance of 215 Saturn radii. It was detected with the Spitzer Space Telescope.>>
Last edited by neufer on Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: APOD: Rotating Moon from LRO (2013 Sep 16)

Postby Sneezy » Mon Sep 16, 2013 5:19 pm

So the heavier side faces away from earth (gravity)? I have seen similar result where the heavier side of a bent wheel may spin down and come to rest facing up due to center of gravity being lower in that position. Like entropy.
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Re: APOD: Rotating Moon from LRO (2013 Sep 16)

Postby neufer » Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:16 pm

Sneezy wrote:
So the heavier side faces away from earth (gravity)?

I have seen similar result where the heavier side of a bent wheel may spin down and come to rest facing up due to center of gravity being lower in that position. Like entropy.

The unbalanced wheel is spinning around it's axis NOT it's center of gravity.

However, tidally locked moons always spin around their center of gravity
with their longest (inertial) axis pointing radially
(i.e., either towards or away from the planet).

The extended Far Side highlands/heavy Near Side Maria defines the Moon's longest (inertial) axis
and either the Maria or the highlands could have ended up pointing towards/away from Earth.

It was purely by accident that the Far Side highlands landed face out :!:

(Note that the planet Mercury is in a highly elliptical orbit
such that it alternates it's perihelion solar facing side.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tidal_locking wrote:
<<Most significant moons in the Solar System are tidally locked with their primaries, since they orbit very closely and tidal force increases rapidly (as a cubic) with decreasing distance. Notable exceptions are the irregular outer satellites of the gas giant planets, which orbit much farther away than the large well-known moons.

Pluto and Charon are an extreme example of a tidal lock. Charon is a relatively large moon in comparison to its primary and also has a very close orbit. This has made Pluto also tidally locked to Charon. In effect, these two celestial bodies revolve around each other (their barycenter lies outside of Pluto) as if joined with a rod connecting two opposite points on their surfaces. The tidal locking situation for asteroid moons is largely unknown, but closely orbiting binaries are expected to be tidally locked, as well as contact binaries.>>
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Re: APOD: Rotating Moon from LRO (2013 Sep 16)

Postby ta152h0 » Mon Sep 16, 2013 7:08 pm

there was a recent collision that made headlines and obviously created a crater. Any images of the resulting crater ?
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Re: APOD: Rotating Moon from LRO (2013 Sep 16)

Postby neufer » Mon Sep 16, 2013 7:43 pm

ta152h0 wrote:
there was a recent collision that made headlines and obviously created a crater. Any images of the resulting crater ?

Here are the impact sites of the Ebb & Flow Grail spacecraft.

And here's the most recent known natural crater (but no one saw the collision):
http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronom ... probe.html wrote:
The Moon’s Youngest Crater
By Phil Plait, Nov. 26, 2012

<<When you look at the Moon, it seems frozen in time, locked in place, unchanging. But, it turns out, if you keep a watchful eye on the Moon, things do change. And we have proof! Behold! The Moon’s youngest known natural crater. :arrow:

This image, from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), shows what looks like a patch of unremarkable lunar real estate. But that crater in the middle, dominating the view, is actually quite remarkable: It’s no more than 41 years old. How do we know? Because we’ve been looking at the Moon up-close for a while. The Apollo missions put humans in orbit around the Moon, humans with cameras. During Apollo 15, which went to the Moon in 1971, command module pilot Al Worden remained in orbit and took mapping pictures of the surface.

LRO took the shot on the right in 2009, so the crater was formed sometime before then, but no earlier than 1971. Note too that above, I said this was the youngest natural crater. That’s because in the later Apollo missions, the spent third stage of the Saturn V rocket that took astronauts to the Moon was purposely sent on a trajectory to impact the Moon. Seismometers left by earlier missions could then be used to measure the energy of the impact and learn more about the Moon’s interior, just as earthquakes here on Earth can be used by scientists to learn more about our planet’s interior. Five new craters are on the Moon from those impacts (from Apollo missions 13 to 17), but no hardware was sent to hit near the crater pictured above, leaving only natural causes to explain it.

This new crater is about 10 meters across. Given typical impact velocities, whatever hit the Moon—most likely a small asteroid—must have been about 50 centimeters or so across. Slamming into the Moon at dozens of times the speed of a rifle bullet, the energy of its impact carved out that crater. Incredible!

Perhaps even more incredible is the fact that anyone found this crater at all. Can you? The original overview image from LRO is online, where you can pan and scan over it. It took me a few minutes to find this crater, and I knew it was there. Imagine having to go through all the images like this and compare them to earlier ones from Apollo, not even knowing what you might find! That’s a serious amount of work. But it paid off. There’s science to be learned here: Fresh impacts overturn the surface of the Moon, revealing what lies beneath. The rough powdery material coating the surface, called regolith, gets darker over time from solar radiation, so having very fresh regolith can help gauge the age of other, older craters.>>
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Re: APOD: Rotating Moon from LRO (2013 Sep 16)

Postby Anthony Barreiro » Mon Sep 16, 2013 8:46 pm

On the far side of the Moon there are a lot of craters with extensive bright ray patterns. On the nearside only Tycho has such an impressive set of rays. I assume that's because there's more bright highland material on the far side. Perhaps Copernicus would have longer and brighter rays if the meteoroid had hit a highland area rather than a dark mare.

This is a fascinating video. LRO is one of my favorite spacecraft. To think that 50 years ago nobody had a clue what was on the far side of the Moon. It could have been the garden of Eden, or the birthplace of dragons, or maybe all the socks that had been lost in the wash throughout history had somehow found their way there ... .
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Re: APOD: Rotating Moon from LRO (2013 Sep 16)

Postby ta152h0 » Tue Sep 17, 2013 4:26 pm

sometimes I believe we get handed an off-topic topic that this human thinks it should be noticed. This morning I read this

http://www.nasa.gov/content/calm-skies- ... ee-oceans/

in conjunction with spaceweather.com noticing the sun is, and has been quiet for a while. Are the two connected ?
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Re: APOD: Rotating Moon from LRO (2013 Sep 16)

Postby neufer » Tue Sep 17, 2013 4:41 pm

ta152h0 wrote:
sometimes I believe we get handed an off-topic topic that this human thinks it should be noticed. This morning I read this

http://www.nasa.gov/content/calm-skies- ... ee-oceans/

in conjunction with spaceweather.com noticing the sun is, and has been quiet for a while. Are the two connected ?

Polar stratospheric "weather" is somewhat affected by high solar activity
(; e.g., by hastening the collapse of the Antarctic ozone hole each November/December).

However, tropical tropospheric weather is not :!:
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Re: APOD: Rotating Moon from LRO (2013 Sep 16)

Postby MarkBour » Wed Sep 18, 2013 2:24 pm

@neufer: Thanks for all of the information you posted! I learned a lot from it.

One tongue-in-cheek question. The video of Johnny Mathis (I think that's who it is ...) So was that a new pronunciation for the plural of "Mare" he's singing about ? :D
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Re: APOD: Rotating Moon from LRO (2013 Sep 16)

Postby neufer » Wed Sep 18, 2013 4:00 pm

MarkBour wrote:
@neufer: Thanks for all of the information you posted! I learned a lot from it.

One tongue-in-cheek question. The video of Johnny Mathis (I think that's who it is ...)
So was that a new pronunciation for the plural of "Mare" he's singing about ? :D

    Chances Are but It's Not for Me to Say.
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Re: APOD: Rotating Moon from LRO (2013 Sep 16)

Postby Beyond » Wed Sep 18, 2013 4:59 pm

neufer wrote:
MarkBour wrote:
@neufer: Thanks for all of the information you posted! I learned a lot from it.

One tongue-in-cheek question. The video of Johnny Mathis (I think that's who it is ...)
So was that a new pronunciation for the plural of "Mare" he's singing about ? :D

    Chances Are but It's Not for Me to Say.

Why not :?: Your avatar has 'the silly grin'. :lol2:
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Re: APOD: Rotating Moon from LRO (2013 Sep 16)

Postby neufer » Wed Sep 18, 2013 7:03 pm

neufer wrote:
MarkBour wrote:
The video of Johnny Mathis (I think that's who it is ...)
So was that a new pronunciation for the plural of "Mare" he's singing about ? :D

    Chances Are but It's Not for Me to Say.
Click to play embedded YouTube video.

ta152h0 wrote:
neufer wrote:
Beyond wrote:
Why not :?: Your avatar has 'the silly grin'. :lol2:

Just because my composure sort of slips from time to time.

when I get schooled here my composure slips a bit also,
perhaps visibly !
Last edited by neufer on Wed Sep 18, 2013 9:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: APOD: Rotating Moon from LRO (2013 Sep 16)

Postby ta152h0 » Wed Sep 18, 2013 8:21 pm

when I get schooled here my composure slips a bit also, perhaps visibly !
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