Lunar Geography: Jura Mountains

One of my favorite areas to observe on the Moon is Montes Jura, the Jura Mountains, that ring Sinus Iridum, the Bay of Rainbows. The C-shaped area formed when lava breached the walls and flooded a massive crater.

Sinus Iridum is bordered by Mare Imbrium, the Sea of Rains, that plays host to several unique mountain ranges and isolated mountains of its own.

The image above gives some place names to some of the more prominent features. The Luna 17 mission launched from the Soviet Union on 10 November 1970 landed the robotic rover “Lunokhod 1” just below and to the left of the Promontorium Heraclides. According to NASA, “The rover was to travel to various locations under the real-time control of operators on Earth and conduct tests on the lunar soil for 3 lunar days (about 3 Earth months).

This first successful Soviet rover operated for 11 lunar days, the equivalent of 322 Earth days. It traveled more than 10 km across the lunar surface, during which it transmitted more than 20,000 TV images and 206 high-resolution panoramas, performed 25 soil analyses with its spectrometer, and used a penetrometer to test the soil’s mechanical characteristics at more than 500 locations. It also conducted a French experiment (similar to a U.S. Apollo experiment a year earlier) in which laser pulses from two observatories-one Soviet and one French-were reflected back to Earth, enabling measurement of the Earth-Moon distance to within 30 cm.”

The white box gives the approximate location of the detailed images above as seen from the backyard.

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