Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Explores the Moon in 3-D

Lobate scarps (a type of cliff) on the moon are found mostly in the highlands, and are relatively small and young. Scientists propose that they form as result of fracturing of the crust as the moon shrinks. Why is the moon shrinking? As the core slowly cools portions freeze from a liquid to a solid thus taking up less volume. Since the lobate scarps are small, hundreds of meters to several kilometers in length, and 10 to 50 meters in height, they must be young; otherwise everyday small meteor bombardment would have obliterated them. (Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University)

Scientists using the camera aboard NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter are acquiring stereo images of the moon in high resolution (0.5 to 2 meters/pixel) that provide 3-D views of the surface from which high resolution topographic maps are made. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera Narrow Angle Camera (LROC NAC) team from the University of Arizona and Arizona State University are currently developing a processing system to automatically generate anaglyphs from most of these stereo pairs. An anaglyph is an image that can be viewed in 3-D using red-blue/green glasses.

LROC acquires stereo images by targeting a location on the ground and taking an image from one angle on one orbit, and from a different angle on a subsequent orbit.

Anaglyphs are used to better understand the 3-D structure of the lunar surface. The LROC NAC anaglyphs make lunar features such as craters, volcanic flows, lava tubes and tectonic features jump out in 3-D. LROC NAC anaglyphs will make detailed images of the moon's surface accessible in 3-D to the general public. The anaglyphs will be released through the LROC web site at and the NASA LRO web site at as they become available.

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