Take a Gander at Gassendi Crater


Crater Gassendi Apollo 16 April 1972Here’s a view of lunar crater Gassendi I assembled from seven 70mm Hasselblad color film photographs captured by Apollo 16 in April 1972. The 3.6 billion-year-old Gassendi crater is 110 km (68 miles) wide and located on the edge of Mare Humorum. This view here is looking south.

The crater is named after 17th-century French mathematician, priest, and astronomer Pierre Gassendi. It was once considered as a landing site for the Apollo program, with the goal being to have astronauts take samples from the 1.2 km-high central peaks, but it was ultimately determined to be too risky.

There’s some fudging along the edges and across some parts of the crater rim because the individual frames were captured as the Apollo CSM was traveling above the lunar surface and so the angles were changing slightly. I also rotated the final assembly to make it a flat horizontal composition.

The cracks and lines running across the crater’s floor are the result of cooling of solidified lava, which filled the basin after the impact that created the crater.

Thanks to the Project Apollo Archive on Flickr for the scans of the JSC Apollo films.

Apollo 16 Moon
The Moon photographed from Apollo 16. The right third of the Moon visible here cannot be seen from Earth as it’s part of the farside.

Image credit: NASA / Jason Major

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