This Rotating Moon Mosaic Is the Most Accurate You've Ever Seen

You've seen the moon more times than you can count in your lifetime. But you've never seen it like this.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) has shown us someprettyamazing stuff in its time circling the moon. But there is one little problem when it comes to reconstructing lunar colors—because of the field-of-view of the LROC, there are multiple perspective shifts in just one shot. So the reflection of the moon's color doesn't come out inaccurately.


To counter this, physicists took 36 nearly complete global mosaics (each one constituting 110,000 images) and figured out an equation that would take into account the changes in the Sun's angle. But adjusting every single pixel in those millions of images would be nearly impossible, so a only a—still sizable—subset of data was used. And it made quite a difference. Here's an image of a purely reflectance map:

And here's an image of the same map with the natural shading added back in:


The distracting reflective circles are severely reduced. Perhaps the coolest part, though, is that these WAC mosaics have given us this beautiful rotating moon that's accurate as anything we've ever seen before. Careful—it's hard to look away. [LROC]

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