Tour of the Moon

A beautiful 1080p tour of our moon. It’s so clear and beautiful you’ll want to go there yourself. This virtual tour is based on data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Enjoy this “new” Moon and its noteworthy destinations.

Ancient peoples looked at the moon and saw in its patterns of shadow and light the figures of deities or animals.

The Italian scientist, Galileo Galilei, trained his telescope on our celestial companion and saw mountains and valleys much like those on Earth.

Scientists today, operating a fleet of spacecraft, are seeing evidence of past events that shaped the lunar landscape, and traces of water and minerals that may one day support a human presence.

Here’s the Mare Orientale, an impact crater nearly 4 billion years old. The color, coded for elevation, highlights a bulls-eye pattern of concentric rings.

Now, let’s go down under to the South Pole.

The pole sits within the wide rim of the famed Shackleton Crater. Direct sunlight never reaches the crater floor.

The Lunar Prospector spacecraft detected higher than normal amounts of hydrogen within the crater, which may indicate the presence of water ice.

From here, we travel to the far side of the moon. The South Pole-Aitken Basin is one of the largest and oldest impact features in the solar system. You can see its true size in the elevation data.

We are approaching the Tycho Crater.

Look closely at the mountainous peak in the center of the crater.

That strange boulder near the summit is about 100 meters wide. It might have been left there by an impact.

Now on to the Aristarchus Crater, the product of a relatively recent impact. It sits on a plateau that’s the site of many transient lunar phenomena, mysterious shifts in color or light on the surface.

The Sea of Serenity, and to its right the Sea of Tranquility… these dark regions were laid down by vast lava flows.

The Taurus-Littrow Valley is in the highlands to the north. The image is based on a stereoscopic elevation map from Japan’s Kaguya spacecraft.

Here, now, is the Apollo 17 landing site courtesy of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. From this vantage, you can see the lander, the rover, and trails left by rover tires and astronauts.

Finally, to the north pole. In the highlands that blanket this region, the sides of myriad craters cast long shadows acros the craggy lunar landscape.

There it is. Our moon. Our one and only.

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