STARDUST Calibration Image Of The Moon
The NASA Discovery STARDUST spacecraft successfully flew by the Earth on Monday 15 January to use the Earth's gravity to change its orbit relative to the Sun, enabling the spacecraft to go further from the Sun and intercept the comet Wild 2 in 2004. Seventeen hours after Earth flyby, the spacecraft flew over the moon at a distance of about 108,000 km and took 23 images to be used to perform photometric and geometric calibrations of the camera. One of these images is shown that was taken on 16 January 2001 04:01:06 UT (15 January 2001 20:01:06 PST). The image was taken through a narrow band blue filter centered at 513.2 nm with a 12 nm Full Width Half Maximum (FWHM) and using a 45 ms exposure.
This lunar image is basically a "raw" image with contrast enhancement applied to help show surface features. The "halo" around the moon is an artifact from contamination that is still on the camera optics and mirror, scattering light. Much of the contamination has been removed over the last few months by heating the camera; however there is still a residual coating that may be addressed in the future with additional camera heating.
The spacecraft was near the north pole of the moon at a latitude of 81 deg and a longitude of 118 deg west. The direction to the Earth is toward the right and the direction to the Sun, in the lunar equator and at a longitude of 78 deg west, is toward the bottom of the image. The lunar mare on the Earth facing side is seen dominating the right half of the image with the bright crater Aristarchus in Oceanus Procellarum near the limb.
Stardust, a part of NASA's Discovery Program of low-cost, highly focused science missions, is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, CA, for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.
Last Updated: November 26, 2003