Fly Over a Pristine Lunar Crater

by Nancy Atkinson on February 6, 2013

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Linné crater on the Moon is one of the youngest, most well-preserved lunar impact craters. This cone-shaped crater thought to be less than 10 million years old – a mere whippersnapper when it comes to impact craters. Scientists have been studying this crater for years, using it to investigate how cratering occurs in mare basalt. This “barnstorming” flyover video was created with data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Color coded shaded relief map of Linné crater (2.2 km diameter) created from an LROC NAC stereo topographic model. The colors represent elevations; cool colors are lowest and hot colors are highest. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University.

Color coded shaded relief map of Linné crater (2.2 km diameter) created from an LROC NAC stereo topographic model. The colors represent elevations; cool colors are lowest and hot colors are highest. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University.

LRO helped discern the actual shape of this crater, and other craters too. It was once thought that the circular Linné crater was bowl-shaped, and that set a precedent for understanding the morphology of craters on the Moon, and also on Earth. But laser-mapping observations by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter determined Linné is actually more of a truncated inverted cone, with a flattened interior floor surrounded by sloping walls that rise up over half a kilometer to its rim.

It’s a magnificent crater, and enjoy this unique chance to see it up close.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also is the host of the NASA Lunar Science Institute podcast and works with Astronomy Cast. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

trog69 February 6, 2013 at 4:28 PM

Until the video was almost level with the top of the crater, my eyes were deceived into seeing the bowl of the crater as the reverse; a circular hill with a slightly flattened top.

A wonderful view of this very intact and unperturbed crater. Thank you for sharing this.

Lorin Ionita February 7, 2013 at 9:08 AM

Wow. Although I can see what you saw, I didn’t see it like this before you pointed it out (had to concentrate on it). It’s weird how two minds can see two different perspectives in the same thing. This is just like the illusion with the dancing woman (some people see it rotating left, others right).

Aqua4U February 6, 2013 at 5:29 PM

I am impressed with this crater’s circularity and it’s regularly shaped rim. The object that created this crater must’ve come from a nearly vertical trajectory?

My first thought was how a crater like this would make a great place to build a lunar radio telescope! Of course, a crater on the far side would be preferable but would require some sort of orbiting relay node at Lunar Lagrange point 2 to transmit data back to the Earth? This concept is ‘doable’…. I just wish we were ‘up to it’! A bowl shaped antenna web attached to points around the rim with 3 arching towers for the focal point? TEG or solar panels for power? A lunar Arecibo?

Towers to support the focal point instruments/reciever may not be necessary IF the L2 point were used as the F.P. and relay?

Lorin Ionita February 7, 2013 at 9:03 AM

“A bowl shaped antenna web attached to points around the rim with 3 arching towers for the focal point?” That would make a real titanic antenna since the diameter is so huge.

Rain February 7, 2013 at 5:53 AM

Hey, NASA, mind your vertical exaggeration. If you do it, state it, so we know–this crater is 500m deep and 2400m wide, the video distorts the depth to the point of being unphysical. NASA should not be in the business of imitating Hollywood.

mmurdoch February 7, 2013 at 7:13 AM

I was going to ask about the vertical scale of this animation. When they do these CGI reconstructions they often exaggerate “for clarity” or something, without mentioning it. Or else that info gets lost as the image makes it’s way around the internet. A pet peeve. Anyway, great work nonetheless!

JonHanford February 7, 2013 at 3:41 PM

Linne reminds me of a somewhat smaller man-made crater in Nevada, Sedan Crater, the result of a 104kt underground nuclear test in 1962:

http://blog.markloiseau.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/storax-sedan-crater.jpg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=mj1kIs0vidc

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