Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2011 March 3
Explanation: About 1,300 images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft's wide angle camera were used to compose this spectacular view of a familiar face - the lunar nearside. But why is there a lunar nearside? The Moon rotates on its axis and orbits the Earth at the same rate, about once every 28 days. Tidally locked in this configuration, the synchronous rotation always keeps one side, the nearside, facing Earth. As a result, featured in remarkable detail in the full resolution mosaic, the smooth, dark, lunar maria (actually lava-flooded impact basins), and rugged highlands, are well-known to earthbound skygazers. To find your favourite mare or large crater, just slide your cursor over the picture. The LRO images used to construct the mosaic were recorded over a two week period last December.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.