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NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Has Its Second, Clearer Look on China's Chang'e-4 Probe

10 Feb 2019, 21:48 UTC
NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Has Its Second, Clearer Look on China's Chang'e-4 Probe
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On Jan. 30 2019, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) acquired a spectacular limb shot centered on the Chang'e 4 landing site, looking across the floor of Von Kármán crater. At the time, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) was more than 200 kilometers from the landing site so Chang'e 4 was only a few pixels across and the rover was not discernable. The following day LRO was closer to the site and again slewed (59 degrees this time) to capture another view. This time the small Yutu-2 rover shows up (two pixels) just north of the lander. Also, shadows cast by the lander and rover are now visible.At some time after the formation of Von Kármán crater, the crater floor was covered by eruptions of basaltic lava, similar to the eruptions in Hawaii last summer. Chang'e 4 will collect compositional measurements of these farside basaltic rocks, and lunar scientists are anxiously awaiting these results. Do volcanic rocks on the farside differ from the basalts collected from the nearside? We will have to wait and see!A striking aspect of the floor of Von Kármán crater is the number and variety of impact craters. There is a high density of craters because the ...

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