This image showcases Hubble Space Telescope's first high-resolution ultraviolet and visible imaging of the Apollo 17 landing region within the Taurus-Littrow valley of the Moon. Humans last walked and drove on the lunar surface in this region (marked "+" in the image at left and at lower right) in December 1972.
The image at upper right was taken by the Apollo 17 astronauts (Dr. H. Jack Schmitt and Gene Cernan). It illustrates a view of the rim of Shorty crater and the lunar roving vehicle against a backdrop of the mountain-like massifs that define the Taurus-Littrow valley. The Hubble Space Telescope image at lower right was constructed by overlaying the Hubble image (at left) with a digital-terrain model acquired by the Apollo program to provide a perspective view looking from west to east up the valley. These Hubble data illustrate the high-resolution resolving power of the Advanced Camera for Surveys and display features smaller than a soccer field from low-Earth orbit some 248,000 miles (400,000 kilometers) distant. These images were acquired at nearly full Moon, so the long, dark shadows typical of many lunar orbital photos are not seen; however, this is perfect lighting for color analysis from which to interpret subtle compositional differences.
The Hubble Space Telescope Lunar Exploration team is using the Apollo 17 images (and those acquired of the Apollo 15 site) as "ground-truth" in an effort to discriminate lunar materials enriched in ilmenite, a titanium-bearing oxide of potential value as a resource in human exploration of the Moon.
The images at left and at lower right were taken Aug. 16, 2005 by Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys. North is at the top in these images.
Images were processed by the Hubble Space Telescope Lunar Exploration team at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Northwestern University, and the Space Telescope Science Institute.