Archive | July 2012

The Mystery of Lunar Swirls

It’s time to showcase lunar swirls again! The previous Image of the Week to focus on lunar swirls was in July 2010 (see link below) and since then more work has been done on what they actually are.

Lunar swirls are bright areas on the lunar surface that are associated with magnetic anomalies in the Moon’s crust. It is thought that these weak magnetic fields prevent the solar wind from changing the surface which is why it remains brighter than the surrounding area which slowly darkens as the solar wind modifies it.

We appear to know why lunar swirls form (due to the magnetic anomalies) but we still don’t know why the magnetic anomalies are where they are and why and how they formed.

The LROC article below, The Swirls of Mare Ingenii, is well worth a read and has some stunning images of swirls.

Reiner Gamma swirl (Latitude: 7.25 Longitude: -60.62)

The Swirls of Mare Ingenii

Quote: Lunar swirls are among the most beautiful and bizarre features on the Moon. Seen as bright, sinuous regions, swirls are associated with weak magnetic anomalies in the Moon’s crust. Images from LROC, and the topographic information extracted from those images, have shown that swirls have no topography associated with them; they are not higher or lower than their surroundings. Instead, it is as if someone has taken a brush and laid down a beautiful swath of bright paint.

‘Deflector Shields’ protect the Lunar Surface

Quote: Scientists from RAL Space at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory have solved a lunar mystery and their results might lead the way to determining if the same mechanism could be artificially manipulated to create safe havens for future space explorers.  Their work focussed on the origin of the enigmatic “lunar swirls” – swirling patches of relatively pale lunar soil, some measuring several tens of km across, which have been an unresolved mystery – until now.

TLP Project – Lunar Swirls

IOTW 19 July 2010 – Lunar Swirls


The Varied Moon

Not one image of the week but 10. If someone tells you that the Moon is dull, grey and boring here are some images to prove them wrong. My top 10 lunar tourist sites.

They say a picture paints a thousand words so I’ll be brief! Sit back and enjoy the views and follow the links if you want more information.

Caro’s Tadpole
Ina rock formation
“Buried skull” rock formation
“The Moon Whale” cavity
Copernicus – collapsed void
Oblique relief images
Reiner Gamma
“Black stuff”
Tycho central peak
Apollo 17 landing site

All images LRO/NASA

A Hawk in the Landscape

Another picture from the ever popular Pareidolia thread on the forum: a Hawk-like feature in Joliot Crater, a 164 km-wide large, old, fairly eroded far side crater on the eastern limb. Part of the crater is just visible from Earth during a favourable libration. The hawk shape has been produced by brighter material overlying darker regolith – probably the result of several impacts excavating higher albedo material. A small fresh impact forms the beak.

Click for bigger image

posted by kodemunkey

Here’s the view of Joliot from ACT-REACT Quick Map. It’s flooded with lava and contains several ghost craters which are lava flooded craters only visible under the right lighting conditions as raised rings.

25.8°N 93.1°E

The crater is named in honour of Frédéric Joliot-Curie who married Marie Curie’s daughter and together they were awarded the Nobel prize for Chemistry in 1935 for their work on the structure of the atom.

Here’s the NAC image to explore further: M106260230RC.

Apollo 17 then and now

Forum regular kodemunkey posted this unusual picture of the Apollo 17 launch on the forum:

The Apollo 17 Saturn V illuminates the Florida sky as it streaks to the Moon


As this year is the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 17 mission I thought it appropriate to contrast this picture of the start of the mission with recent high resolution images taken by LROC’s narrow angle camera showing the Apollo 17 landing site as it was left 40 years ago.

There’s a lot of hardware up there!

Uploaded to YouTube by Return2Moon09