Astronomy and Space News - Astro Watch: Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Captures China's Lunar Landing Site in Two Pixels

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Saturday, February 9, 2019

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Captures China's Lunar Landing Site in Two Pixels

Area around lander enlarged by a factor of two relative to the native pixel scale, bright speck between two arrows is the lander. The large crater in the center (just right and below arrows) is about 440 meters (1,440 feet) across. LROC NAC M1303521387LR Credits: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

On Jan. 3, 2019, the Chinese spacecraft Chang'e 4 safely landed on the floor of the Moon’s Von Kármán crater (186 kilometer diameter, 116 miles). Four weeks later (Jan. 30, 2019), as NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) approached the crater from the east, it rolled 70 degrees to the west to snap this spectacular view looking across the floor toward the west wall.

Because LRO was 330 kilometers (205 miles) to the east of the landing site, the Chang'e 4 lander is only about two pixels across (bright spot between the two arrows), and the small rover is not detectable. The massive mountain range in the background is the west wall of Von Kármán crater, rising more than 3,000 meters (9,850 feet) above the floor.

The rover and the lander of the Chang'e-4 probe have been awakened by sunlight after a long "sleep" during the first extremely cold night on the moon on Jan. 30.

NASA announced its plan last month to cooperate with Chinese space authorities to observe a signature of the landing plume of Chang'e-4's lunar lander.

NASA and the Chinese National Space Administration agreed that any significant findings resulting from this coordination activity will be shared with the global research community at a UN meeting to be held in mid February in Vienna.

NASA said its cooperation with China "transparent, reciprocal and mutually beneficial."

Credit: NASA

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