(some of) China gets it

Contributed by
Dec 3, 2007

The Chang'e-1 probe is a Chinese mission to map the Moon. It's been returning some nice images, and -- shocker -- some people have doubted their authenticity.

What is surprising is that it's not the usual boneheads here in the states, but "Chinese Internet users" who have cast doubts. A Reuters article released today says that some people in China think the images looks a bit too much like one released by NASA back in 2005.

There were two craters on a certain spot of the Chinese photo, but there was only one on that same spot of the American picture, the Beijing News quoted [Chang'e-1 chief scientist Ouyang Ziyuan] as saying.

"Maybe it's because the resolution of the American photo was not high enough, or a new pit might have been generated by an asteroid hitting the moon between 2005 and 2007," Ouyang said.

Personally, I strongly doubt it's a new crater, unless it was on the far side. An impact of any decent size would probably have been spotted. However, the article is short on details: I don't know what crater they mean, what size it is, or even what 2005 NASA image they mean. NASA hasn't had a lunar mission since Lunar Prospector crashed into the lunar south pole region in 1999. It must have been a ground-based image, or else they mean it was taken by the European probe SMART-1. Or it may have been the Hubble images released in 2005 (Hubble's resolution of the lunar surface is only about 150-200 meters, so Chang'e-1 actually would take higher-res images). But those images were of the Moon's northern hemisphere, not southern, which was the target of the Chang'e-1 images.

So I'm a little baffled by all this. Hopefully someone with better resources (and more time) than I have can look into this a little deeper. I'd actually like to see the two images side-by-side to see how much better the Chinese probe can do!

Hat tip to Dan Durda and the other folks who sent this to me.

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