2021-11-25

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter captured images of Saturn 56 miles above the moon

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46fab3fb0aed5a5 - NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter captured images of Saturn 56 miles above the moon

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter captured images of Saturn 56 miles above the moon

Saturn seen from the moon (and its 4x enlarged image), Such an operation requires intense planning by the LRO mission operations team at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland

LROC’s narrow angle camera (NAC) is a line scanning camera, which is a challenge for imaging anything except the moon. This is because they are designed to use the motion of the spacecraft over the lunar surface to obtain images (the speed of LRO over the moon exceeds 1600 M / S (1 mile / s)), and establish one image at a time with a very short exposure time. In order to image Saturn, the spacecraft rotates NAC on Saturn and establishes the image by imitating our orbital ground motion

the rotation across Saturn is achieved by pointing NAC to one side of Saturn and then aiming at the other side. LRO responds to the updated target and rotates on Saturn at a specific speed. This rate is set to optimize the stability and speed of LRO. The final NAC exposure time is 3.82 milliseconds. Because Saturn is much darker than the moon (and Jupiter), and the exposure time is actually set by the rotation speed, we can’t detect Saturn’s satellites like Galileo’s, because they are too dark

fortunately, NAC can image the spectacular Saturn rings. The diameter of the visible main star rings is 270000 km (168000 miles), which is about 70% of the average distance between the earth and the moon

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter captured images of Saturn 56 miles above the moon(1)

Hubble’s observation of Saturn in 2021 shows that the banded region of the planet’s northern hemisphere has rapid and extreme color changes

for comparison, the above image was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope during its grand tour of the outer solar system

LRO is managed by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and serves the science mission agency at NASA headquarters in Washington. LRO was launched on June 18, 2009. Its seven powerful instruments have collected a large amount of data, which has made a valuable contribution to our understanding of the moon. NASA is working with business and international partners to return to the moon to expand the human presence in space and bring back new knowledge and opportunities