Date: 24 Nov 1966
The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) has released another iconic image taken during the Lunar Orbiter program in the 1960's. This image shows the dramatic landscape within the crater Copernicus.
This image was taken by the Lunar Orbiter 2 spacecraft from an altitude of 28.4 miles above the lunar surface, 150 miles due south of Copernicus. At the time this image was originally released most views of the lunar surface involved looking straight down. Little, if any, sense of the true elevation of lunar surface features was usually available. This photo changed that perception by showing the moon to be a world with tremendous topography -- some of it Earth-like, much of it decidedly not.
Time magazine said ("A New Look at Copernicus"): "Except for the black sky in the background, the photograph might have been mistaken for a composite of the scenic grandeur of Grand Canyon and the barren desolation of the Badlands of South Dakota. But when it was flashed unexpectedly onto a screen at a meeting of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in Boston last week, sophisticated space scientists and engineers recognized the terrain immediately. It was a spectacular close up shot of lunar landscape. That photograph of the moon's Crater of Copernicus, said NASA Scientist Martin Swetnick, is "one of the great pictures of the century."
Last Update: 20 Feb 2013 (AMB)
Credit: NASA Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project