Looking for Change: Crater Matching Apollo 15 versus LROC

Apollo 15 Image                                                                     LROC Image

Apollo lunar missions 15 – 17  carried onboard the orbiting command service module a sophisticated array of camera systems used for mapping the lunar surface from orbit.

Apollo 15 and Apollo 16 system arrangement

While reading, “APOLLO OVER THE MOON: A VIEW FROM ORBIT (NASA SP-362)” on page 123, I found a crater similar to an example Forum moderator Geoff posted for our Transient Lunar Phenomena (TLP) thread on Boulder Repellent.

AS15-9287 Panoramic (P) High Resolution  Click here for full image.

Lunar Atlas of Panoramic Camera Photographs and Image Catalog

The interesting name was given to this type of crater because of the open space in its center marked by a ring of boulders. To date we have not come across an example as good as the one posted on the TLP thread until now-  22.5° N / 34° E” in the Taurus mountains. With help from Forum moderater Jules and  Astrostu the Apollo 15 crater was tracked down on a LROC M126704350RE photo strip with a tantalizing partial view of the crater.  Jules was especially helpful in moving this project forward.

When a LROC photo strip is made showing the entire crater we hope to do a comparison of the crater center looking for change between the two versions as well as surveying craters and boulders in the surrounding area.  You are all invited to participate in the fun. Though not the superior resolution of LROC, the high resolution Apollo 15 version is very impressive.  Once you begin comparing the two versions of the crater, details in the Apollo 15 photograph begin to appear more clearly and you can see the details as smaller patterns but noticeable.  Downloading the Apollo 15 version and magnifying it with your photo viewer is a big help.  Also enhancing the photograph using a free online photo editing tool such as Sumo Paint allows one to modify the photograph with warmer colors (tan) to enhance boulders and craters.

Below is an example of an enhancement of the Apollo 15 crater center.  The annotated lines were made on Sumo Paint. The photograph resizing and hosting were performed at Photobucket. So, I moved the photograph back and forth as it was modified. The arrow points toward the large boulder on the crater rim (not shown).  The white radial lines move out from the approximate center touching boulders and areas closest in to give one perspective.  I also marked the circumference of the open center area. The red lines are possible alternative routes.

Visit the MZ Forum thread, “Crater matching – Apollo 15 v LROC” for more information on this project and how it evolved.  You can also participate in the investigation of two recently added Apollo 16 versus LROC photographs.


Tom128 is a regular contributor to the Moon Zoo Forum.

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One response to “Looking for Change: Crater Matching Apollo 15 versus LROC”

  1. Jules says :

    This was a fun exercise! I look forward to more crater matching. Even though we may not have been successful this time we found some great resources to work with in the future.

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