LROC image ID: What is it? - MyMoon

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Who out there in MyMoon-land is familiar with images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's LROC camera? Anyone? Anyone? Well, if you are, perhaps you have wondered, what is the deal with the image ID? If you haven't wondered, then you'll probably find this blog posting useless. The image ID is the loooong string of both letters and numbers assigned to each LROC image. For example, the pic at the bottom of this entry is from image M166406436R.

(Uhhhh, what?)

I was recently asked what all those characters mean so I looked it up. It's amazing what you can find out if you just TAKE THE TIME TO LOOK IT UP. Here's the information contained in an LROC image ID:

Unique identifier for this LROC NAC and WAC EDR/CDR product. Example: [TARGET][MET][INSTRUMENT][PRODUCT] where [TARGET] is a single character denoting the observation target [(M)oon, (E)arth, (C)alibration or (S)tar, [MET] is a nine digit number reflecting the MET of acquisition (with a single digit for partition), [INSTRUMENT] is a single character denoting the instrument [(R)ight NAC, (L)eft NAC, (M)onochrome WAC, (C)olor WAC, (U)V only WAC, (V)isible only WAC, and [PRODUCT] is a single character denoting an (E)DR product or (C)DR product.

(From the LROC EDR/CDR Data Product Software Interface Specification document.)

Ummmm, WHAT?!

OK. Let's break it down. Using the example from earlier, image M166406436R: 'M' is for the Moon (the target of the camera), the number 1 is just a separator, the next eight numbers (66406436) stand for the amount of time that has elapsed since LRO launched (in seconds; can you figure out how many months that is?), and 'R' means the image was taken by the right Narrow Angle Camera. (There are two Narrow Angle Cameras, or NAC, left and right.)

So there you go. LROC image IDs demystified. Not that you really needed to know that, I just thought I'd share. It's Friday. I needed something to do.

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