Today, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) celebrates its fifth anniversary in space. LRO launched from Florida on June 18, 2009. After a four-day journey, the orbiter successfully entered lunar orbit on June 23. In the succeeding five years, LRO has continued to shape our view of our nearest celestial neighbor. LRO data has shown us the tracks and equipment left behind from the Apollo astronauts, created the most precise map of the lunar surface, discovered the coldest known temperatures in the solar system, mapped the distribution of hydrogen and possibly water mixed in the lunar soil, identified craters and many other exciting science discoveries
In honor of the fifth anniversary, the LRO project kicked off the Moon as Art Campaign. The public was asked to select a favorite orbiter image of the moon for the cover of a special image collection. After two weeks of voting, the public has selected this image of Tycho Central Peak as its favorite moon image. The stunningly beautiful Tycho Central Peak rests inside an impact crater and has a boulder over 100 meters wide (about 328 feet) at its summit. It showcases a breathtaking view of the lunar landscape.
Tycho crater’s central peak complex, shown here, is about 9.3 miles (15 km) wide, left to right (southeast to northwest in this view). A very popular target with amateur astronomers, Tycho is about 51 miles (82 km) in diameter. The central peak’s summit is 1.24 miles (2 km) above the crater floor.
Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University