Copernicus crater on the Moon, from 28.4 miles, Lunar Orbiter 2, November 1966

Copernicus crater on the Moon, from 28.4 miles, Lunar Orbiter 2, November 1966


Vintage gelatin silver print, 20.2 x 25.4 cm

NASA 66-H-1470, caption on verso

The remarkable clarity is attributable to the absence of atmosphere. "On first seeing this oblique view of the crater Copernicus I was awed by the sudden realisation that this prominent lunar feature I have often viewed by telescope is a landscape of real mountains and valleys, obviously fashioned by tremendous forces of nature. It is no wonder that some writers immediately classified it as "Picture of the Year"" (Oran W. Nicks, NASA Office of Space Science and Applications). This is a portion of the first closeup photograph of the crater Copernicus, one of the most prominent features on the face of the moon, taken at 7.05 pm EST November 23 by Lunar Orbiter II's telephoto lens. Looking due north from the crater's southern rim, detail of the central part of Copernicus can be seen. Mountains rising from the flat floor of the crater are 1,000 feet high with slopes up to 30 degrees. A ledge of bedrock is visible in the central part of the mountain chain on the floor of the crater. The 3,000 feet mountain chain on the horizon is the Gay-Lussac Promontory in the Carpathian Mountains. Cliffs on the rim of the crater are 1,000 feet high and undergoing continual downslope movement of material. From the horizon to the base of the photograph is about 150 miles. The horizontal distance across the part of the crater shown in this photograph is about 17 miles. Lunar Orbiter was 28.4 miles above the surface of the Moon and about 150 miles due south of the center if Copernicus when the picture was taken. This photograph was transmitted from the spacecraft to the Deep Space Network station at Goldstone, California, on November 28, 1966.

About Lunar Orbiter II here

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