io9 is taking the day off to explode things in the name of national liberty. Also, to kick back on this moon beach, captured here in the dappled earthlight by NASA's newly-launched Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
The satellite achieved orbit around the Moon in late June, and will be mapping its surface extensively. The image you see above is of the lunar highlands south of Mare Nubium, and it's the first image NASA has released from the orbiter.
A release from NASA explains what you're seeing:
"Our first images were taken along the moon's terminator — the dividing line between day and night — making us initially unsure of how they would turn out," said LROC Principal Investigator Mark Robinson of Arizona State University in Tempe. "Because of the deep shadowing, subtle topography is exaggerated, suggesting a craggy and inhospitable surface. In reality, the area is similar to the region where the Apollo 16 astronauts safely explored in 1972.". . . Impact craters feature prominently in both images. Older craters have softened edges, while younger craters appear crisp.
Many more images will be coming from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Also, if you want to dig the Moon even more today, here is one of the original movies made of astronauts landing on the Moon in 1969. Apparently it was long believed lost, and has just now been recovered. (UPDATE: A NASA rep denies that the movie below is real, so enjoy it only as a fiction.)
Happy Independence Day!
Moon photograph via: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University