Close up of a boulder (25 meters (82 feet) or two school buses wide) on the central peak of crater Gassendi. LROC NAC frame M109495053R, image width is 450 meters (1476 feet).
During the Apollo era, Gassendi Crater (17.5°S. 320.1°E) was one of two primary landing site alternatives to the Apollo 17 site at Taurus-Littrow. The candidate location was south of the westernmost of Gassendi's central peaks. The main scientific motivation for a landing at the Gassendi site was the possibility of sampling ancient highland rocks in the crater's central peak. Sampling from the region would have also supplied ages for the Humorum basin impact and the Gassendi crater impact. However, engineering constraints kept Gassendi from becoming an Apollo landing site because it was uncertain if the terrain within Gassendi was too rough and dangerous for astronauts to successfully approach the central peak and obtain a sample.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center built and manages the mission for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera was designed to acquire data for landing site certification and to conduct polar illumination studies and global mapping. Operated by Arizona State University, LROC consists of a pair of narrow-angle cameras (NAC) and a single wide-angle camera (WAC). The mission is expected to return over 70 terabytes of image data.