Photogeology: Part W: Apollo 16 landing site: summary of Earth-based remote sensing data

, , , , , and



The purpose of the infrared (IR) and radar study of the Apollo data is to establish lunar surface conditions in the vicinity of the orbital tracks of the Apollo command modules during the J-series missions. Correlations and comparisons between the Earth-based radar observations, IR observations, and other data will be plotted on photomaps produced from the mapping and panoramic cameras. In addition, the Apollo photography will be used to improve the classifications of the anomalous IR and radar features. The three sets of Earth-based data have already been obtained. The IR (11 μm) data (ref. 29-112) were obtained during a total lunar eclipse. More than a thousand thermally anomalous regions with an unusually high population of exposed boulders have been identified (ref. 29-113). The 70-cm radar backscatter observations made at the same resolution as the IR measurements show regions of anomalous backscatter. These regions have been explained as roughness caused by the boulders on the surface and below the surface. The high-resolution 3.8-cm radar backscatter measurements (ref. 29-114) reveal in great detail regions of anomalous radar backscatter. At this short radar wavelength, small-scale surface and subsurface roughness and boulders less than the order of 10 cm are responsible for the anomalous returns. Previous studies have revealed strong correlation between these three data sets (refs. 29-115 to 29-117). The strongest anomalies (anomalous at all three wavelengths) correspond to features interpreted geologically as young Copernican craters. There are, however, many combinations of enhancements from IR only, 70-cm radar only, 3.8-cm radar only, or combinations of two of these types but not a third. The variation of intensity in all combinations indicates a very complex set of features. These data provide information about the surface on a centimeter- and meter-sized scale although the basic instrumental resolution was 2 to 15 km. The Apollo orbital photography and observations at the landing sites, used in conjunction with the remote sensing data, can significantly improve geologic and geophysical interpretations of lunar surface conditions.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Book chapter
Publication Subtype:
Book Chapter
Photogeology: Part W: Apollo 16 landing site: summary of Earth-based remote sensing data
Series number:
Year Published:
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Publisher location:
Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s):
Astrogeology Science Center
6 p.
Larger Work Type:
Larger Work Subtype:
Federal Government Series
Larger Work Title:
Apollo 16 preliminary science report (NASA SP 315)
First page:
Last page:
Other Geospatial: