Mission News

Invisible Colors of the Moon
09.24.09
 
images of the moon taken at wavelengths not visible or discernable to the human eye

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Data from NASA's Moon Mineralogy Mapper instrument on the Indian Space Research Organization's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft reveal subtle and previously unknown lunar diversity and features. The observations reveal clues to the moon's history, mineralogy and water content.

In this movie, images taken at wavelengths not visible or discernable to the human eye are assigned colors, revealing the invisible "colors" of the moon. While our eyes are sensitive to wavelengths from about 0.4 to 0.75 micrometers, the Moon Mineralogy Mapper measured energy from the moon from 0.45 through 3 micrometers, well into the infrared portion of the light spectrum. The instrument has a spectrometer that splits the wavelength range into 86 images, or bands, in one mode, and 260 bands in its higher-resolution mode.

The animation takes a random walk through the data, with various combinations of images systematically assigned colors of red, green and blue. Different colors show various minerals and water on the surface of the moon. This is a sampling of just some of the data -- more information is contained in the whole Moon Mineralogy Mapper data set.

Image credit: ISRO/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Brown Univ./Analytical Imaging and Geophysics, LLC

› See movie (2 Mb) Quicktime
› See movie (73 Mb) Quicktime