Featured Image - 04/14/2009
The Rugged Lunar Highlands
This incredible oblique Apollo Metric Mapping Camera photograph
(Figure 1; Apollo Metric frame AS16-M-0699) obtained by Ken Mattingly aboard the Apollo 16 CSM Casper in
April 1972 shows the central nearside lunar highlands, just south of the Apollo 16 landing site, which is just out of the frame to the top of this photograph. In the center of this picture, you can see the ancient and incredibly degraded crater Descartes.
Figure 1. Descartes crater and the central
nearside lunar highlands near the Apollo 16 landing site (Apollo Image AS16-M-0699 [NASA/JSC/Arizona State University]).
We have discussed the differences between the lunar
highlands and the lunar maria in
a a previous
Featured Image. However, the oblique nature of Figure
1 makes the rugged relief of the lunar highlands evident.
This is especially obvious when you compare Figure 1 to other oblique Metric
photographs of the lunar maria, which are smoother and have fewer large craters. However, despite the rough appearance of this terrain, there are many
places where human explorers could safely land, as shown by the highly
successful Apollo 16 mission. The
upcoming Lunar Reconnaissance
Orbiter mission will collect critical data to characterize
high-priority sites spread over the entire Moon to enable successful future
human lunar exploration.
Over the Moon: A View From Orbit (1978) H. Masursky, G. W. Colton,
F. El-Baz, eds. NASA SP-362.