Sunlight On Multi-Coloured Rock

November 17, 2013 by  

Sunlight On Multi-Coloured Rock, Part 1 is an overview of telescopic observations and photographs of subtle colorations on the moon’s disc, and orbital observations and photographs performed by Apollo astronauts and previous unmanned orbiters.
Part 2 is a rather curious look at the moon’s colors, plus all sorts of rare observing techniques, thoughts, and hypotheses (the possible cause of the reddish-colored Transient Lunar Phenomena, TLP). It is also an enthusiast’s look at the visual perception of colors.
Part 3 is an exploration of the moon’s surface and the variety of subtle colorations on boulders, rocks, and regolith. Photographs by the Apollo astronauts and previous unmanned landers.
Research: Danny Caes.

During the Apollo program, a variety of lunar rocks and boulders was investigated by the astronauts on the moon and by scientists on Earth. Many of the investigated rocks and boulders appeared greyish (no color) to the astronauts’s eyes, and to their Hasselblad cameras. On the other hand, a surprising number of the photographed and collected samples showed unexpected colorations such as lightgreen, rusty orange, and even a kind of soft blue!

Additional Information
Before the arrival of Apollo’s astronauts, several unmanned Surveyor landers made color photographs of the moon’s investigated surface. On most of these photographs, the moon’s surface (the regolith and the rocks) appeared grey.
It is not known if there were photographic color-experiments aboard the unmanned Soviet landers (Luna, Lunokhod).

The very first color-photographs of the moon’s regolith?
They were printed on page 581 of the National Geographic – october 1966, in the article Surveyor: Candid Camera on the Moon, by Homer E. Newell. The large one of the two printed photographs shows Surveyor 1’s photometric disc (a calibration card with colors orange (red), green, blue, and white) against the grey colored lunar surface. The small photograph shows the same (?) photometric disc against one of the three landing pods on which a gold-plated jet nozzle is visible (looking yellowish). Both photographs were made through three filters (orange/ green/ blue). Are these two photographs the very first color-snapshots made on the lunar surface?

Don Davis, on his page The Moon (lunar B-and-W and COLOR photography):
– The Surveyor 1 spacecraft, essentially an aluminum tripod supporting various components, became the first of four successes in the series, returning thousands of television still images. Among these images were the first attempts at color pictures from the Moon, taken in three exposures of the gray scale camera through red, green and blue filters. The camera quality was barely good enough to be useful in such experiments, and at least revealed the surface was so gray that the camera related brightness variations between frames was more noticeable than any actual possible subtle color variations in the scene, although the color target itself is well shown.

In some way related: the article Historic Color Portrait of Earth from Space by Kenneth F. Weaver, in the National Geographic – november 1967, pages 726-731 (the DODGE satellite and its attached RGB-colored calibration ball to capture Earth’s true colors).

Gemini 10 astronaut Michael Collins photographed an MSC-8 Color Patch outside the spacecraft during the Gemini 10 – Agena docking mission. The experiment was for the purpose of showing what effect the environment of space will have upon the color photography taken in cislunar space and on the lunar surface during an Apollo mission. S66-46025
– NASA –

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