The dark side of the Moon turns out to be trippier than we could have imagined

Here's a dazzlingly bright look at the dark side of the Moon — more accurately called the far side, since it gets as much light as the side we can see. The colors come from the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter.

And yes, that "altimeter" part means that the colors denote different heights of the Moon's surface. This gives us a better sense of the topography on the far side, which is rougher and has more craters than the side facing us. The areas in red are the highest, up around 20,000 feet, and the blue areas are the lowest, around -20,000 feet. This image came out in March, but it's new to us. I like the idea that they're using fricken lasers to scan the Moon's surface.


And a new image from the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter, out this week, shows the second oldest impact crater on the Moon's surface:

That's the Schrodinger Impact Basin, which is less than a billion years old — so it's still only the second oldest crater, but it's still mighty old. [Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter]

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