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Apollo 16 Footsteps Under High Sun
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Apollo 16: Footsteps Under High Sun

November 30, 2012
The lunar module Orion landed in the Descartes Highlands of the moon on April 21, 1972. The Apollo 16 mission targeted a highland region. Originally thought to be a volcanic site, the samples returned by Apollo 16 actually indicated that the highlands of the moon primarily consist of impact-formed rocks (breccias), a substantial scientific result. Today's featured image is an LROC NAC image of the Apollo 16 landing site, acquired when the sun was nearly overhead, in contrast to a previous image of the site. High sun causes white and metallic artifacts left on the surface by Young and Duke to stand out in high contrast as they reflect the noon-day sun back at LROC. The Apollo 16 astronauts churned up the lunar soil (regolith) as they moved about exploring the moon, and this disturbed material shows up as dark lines and patches. Since the astronauts spent a fair amount of time around the Lunar Module during their three extra-vehicular activities, the bright lunar module appears to have a dark halo. The same dark halo appears around the parked rover. High-sun image of the Apollo 16 landing site showing the lunar module descent stage, various pieces of equipment, and disturbed lunar soil (seen as darker lines and areas) which marks where John Young and Charles Duke traversed in the spring of 1972. The labels on the image are for the Lunar Module (LM), the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP), the Radioisotopic Thermoelectric Generator (RTG) that powered the ALSEP, and a line of geophones (devices that take seismic readings) that extended west by northwest from the ALSEP station. LROC image M109134835L, 296 meters across (about 971 feet). Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University (No larger image available.)