Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera

Towering Peak

8000 meter tall peak
The summit of the unnamed peak in the foreground (50.2° S, 236.6° E) has an elevation of 6710 meters, about 7000 meters of relief relative to the low point at the bottom of the image. The two peaks on the horizon, 200 kilometers in the distance, have summit elevations of 4320 meters and 4680 meters, respectively and both rise more than 6000 meters above their surroundings. West-to-east view across the eastern portion of the South Pole-Aitken basin, NAC M1211426555LR [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

It is amazing to think that a 7000 meter (23,000 feet) tall mountain has no name! However, there are quite a few unnamed lunar peaks with more than 6000 meters relief – most of these giant mountains are part of the rim of the massive South Pole Aitken basin, which formed when an impactor struck the Moon about 4.3 billion years ago.

Often it is not easy to accurately judge distances on the Moon. On Earth we are used to distant peaks appearing a little fuzzy because of atmospheric effects, since the Moon has no atmosphere we do not have that visual clue. Additionally, there are no familiar landmarks (buildings, telephone poles, etc.) to provide a sense of scale.

This seemingly modest peak is taller than Denali (6140 meters (21,146 feet) from base to summit, formerly known as Mt. McKinley)!  You can use the profile tool within Quickmap to visualize the relief of these massive peaks. Since it is more than 4 billion years old it has experienced much erosion, mainly due to impact cratering  -  how tall was it originally?

Screen shot of Quickmap Profile Tool
Screen shot of Quickmap profile tool and WAC global topography (GLD100).

Scroll around in the whole image and try to visualize the size of these peaks!

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