Our Moon is a surprisingly dynamic place. New impact craters are being formed. Volcanic activity, once thought long extinct, may have happened in the recent past. The crust has recently fractured from slow interior cooling and shrinking of the Moon. It may still be shrinking today.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft has been studying the Moon from lunar orbit since 2009. Its high-resolution imaging system, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), has taken over a million images of the surface and revealed details never before seen. These images are providing answers to long-held questions, and raising new questions about the Moon's ancient and recent past.
The mission was originally conceived to make measurements necessary to support future human missions to the Moon. After its first 15 months of operations, it began a mission of pure scientific exploration.
The lunar landscapes presented here are a small but magnificent sample of LROC images. They provide a glimpse of recent discoveries and reveal our nearest and most familiar celestial neighbor to be strikingly beautiful, still full of mystery, and truly amazing.
A New Moon Rises is made possible by the generous support of NASA and Arizona State University.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is a cooperative effort by hundreds of people. NASA, universities, private companies, and international partners all contributed to the mission.
All lunar images courtesy of NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC)
Provides global imaging of the lunar surface. Consists of a Wide Angle Camera (WAC) and two identical Narrow Angle Cameras (NAC).
Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation (CRaTER)
Measures the lunar radiation environment.
Diviner Lunar Radiometer (DLRE)
Provides thermal mapping to determine lunar surface and subsurface temperatures.
Lyman Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP)
Maps the lunar surface in the far ultraviolet in search of water ice.
Lunar Exploration Neutron Detector (LEND)
Maps distribution of hydrogen in the lunar soil.
Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA)
Maps the topography and surface roughness of the Moon.
Mini-RF Synthetic Aperture Radar
Provides radar imaging of the lunar surface in search of water ice.
Rugged Lunar Highs and Lows
This large cliff, part of the wall of Antoniadi crater, rises 4 kilometers (2.5 miles). Some lunar mountains rise more than twice that height above the local terrain. The bottom of the small bowl-shaped crater tucked behind peaks in the center is the Moon's lowest point. It lies more than 9 kilometers (6 miles) below the lunar mean radius (comparable to sea level on Earth).
Image ID: M1146021973LR
Image width: 120 km (75 mi.)