July 8, 2009--
Deep shadows fill the pockmarked terrain of the lunar highlands south of Mare Nubium, or Sea of Clouds, in the first images of the moon returned from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which were released on July 2.
The spacecraft, which launched on June 18, only recently turned on its imaging system, dubbed LROC. The system includes a wide-angle camera with a resolution of 330 feet (100 meters) and two narrow-angle cameras that can see features down to 3.3 feet (1 meter) across.
Over at least a year, the orbiter will take pictures and collect data to make new high-resolution maps of the lunar surface, scout out safe landing zones for future missions, and search for resources such as water ice, among other objectives.
Image courtesy NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University