This is actually a mosaic of about 1300 separate images taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s Wide-Angle Camera — the total size is a whopping 24,000 x 24,000 pixels, producing a resolution of about 145 meters/pixel...Note - the embed here is a JPEG; for full-res and zoomable images, visit the link at Discover.
Over time, as the Moon rotates underneath it, LRO can see the entire surface of the Moon. As it does this, the angle of sunlight changes, so care had to be taken when creating this mosaic to make it appear seamless; otherwise shadows would appear to jump suddenly from point to point. If you look carefully you’ll see where shadows point in different directions, but it still looks pretty natural.
But it’s not: when you see the full Moon from Earth, that means the Sun is shining straight down on the Moon — the Earth is essentially directly between the Moon and Sun. That means you don’t see any shadows on the surface when the Moon is full. Pictures of it taken from Earth look flat in that case, because our eyes and brains look to shadows to sense the topographical relief — the ups and downs in the surface. But this image shows those shadows, making it a unique view of the full Moon...
But it’s also one of the highest resolution image ever made too! You can appreciate that if you look at the full-res 145 meters/pixel zoom-and-pannable version, which is simply extraordinary... So my advice: take a little time and peruse the zoomable version online, and pretend you’re floating over the lunar surface.
25 February 2011
Highest-resolution photo - ever - of the moon
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