Skip to comments.NASA Spacecraft Images Offer Sharper Views of Apollo Landing Sites
Posted on 09/06/2011 12:39:28 PM PDT by ZGuy
NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) captured the sharpest images ever taken from space of the Apollo 12, 14 and 17 landing sites. Images show the twists and turns of the paths made when the astronauts explored the lunar surface.
This interactive shows two LRO images of the Apollo 17 landing site. Click and drag on the white slider bar to wipe from one to the other. The left image was released today; the right image is a zoom-in on an LRO image released in 2009. LRO was moved into a lower orbit to capture the new image. The images do not line up perfectly because of differences in lighting conditions, angle of the LRO Camera, and other variables. Image brightness and contrast have been altered to highlight surface details. (Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/ASU)
At the Apollo 17 site, the tracks laid down by the lunar rover are clearly visible, along with the last foot trails left on the moon. The images also show where the astronauts placed some of the scientific instruments that provided the first insight into the moon's environment and interior.
"We can retrace the astronauts' steps with greater clarity to see where they took lunar samples," said Noah Petro, a lunar geologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., who is a member of the LRO project science team.
All three images show distinct trails left in the moon's thin soil when the astronauts exited the lunar modules and explored on foot. In the Apollo 17 image, the foot trails, including the last path made on the moon by humans, are easily distinguished from the dual tracks left by the lunar rover, which remains parked east of the lander.
"The new low-altitude Narrow Angle Camera images sharpen our view of the moon's surface," said Arizona State University researcher Mark Robinson, principal investigator for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC). "A great example is the sharpness of the rover tracks at the Apollo 17 site. In previous images the rover tracks were visible, but now they are sharp parallel lines on the surface."
This interactive shows two LRO images of the Apollo 12 landing site. Click and drag on the white slider bar to wipe from one to the other. The left image was released today; the right image is a zoom-in on an LRO image released in 2009. LRO was moved into a lower orbit to capture the new image. The images do not line up perfectly because of differences in lighting conditions, angle of the LRO Camera, and other variables. Image brightness and contrast have been altered to highlight surface details. (Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/ASU)
At each site, trails also run to the west of the landers, where the astronauts placed the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP) to monitor the moon's environment and interior.
This equipment was a key part of every Apollo mission. It provided the first insights into the moon's internal structure, measurements of the lunar surface pressure and the composition of its atmosphere. Apollo 11 carried a simpler version of the science package.
One of the details that shows up is a bright L-shape in the Apollo 12 image. It marks the locations of cables running from ALSEP's central station to two of its instruments. Although the cables are much too small for direct viewing, they show up because they reflect light very well.
NASA Goddard's Dr. Noah Petro discusses the significance of the new Apollo images from LRO. (Credit: Chris Smith, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center) Download this and related videos in broadcast quality from NASA Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio
The higher resolution of these images is possible because of adjustments made to LRO's orbit, which is slightly oval-shaped or elliptical. "Without changing the average altitude, we made the orbit more elliptical, so the lowest part of the orbit is on the sunlit side of the moon," said Goddard's John Keller, deputy LRO project scientist. "This put LRO in a perfect position to take these new pictures of the surface."
The maneuver lowered LRO from its usual altitude of approximately 31 miles (50 kilometers) to an altitude that dipped as low as nearly 13 miles (21 kilometers) as it passed over the moon's surface. The spacecraft has remained in this orbit for 28 days, long enough for the moon to completely rotate. This allows full coverage of the surface by LROC's Wide Angle Camera. The cycle ends today when the spacecraft will be returned to its 31-mile orbit.
The paths left by astronauts Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell on both Apollo 14 moon walks are visible in this image. (At the end of the second moon walk, Shepard famously hit two golf balls.) The descent stage of the lunar module Antares is also visible. (Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/ASU)
"These images remind us of our fantastic Apollo history and beckon us to continue to move forward in exploration of our solar system," said Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
LRO was built and managed by Goddard. Initial research was funded by the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. In September 2010, after a one-year successful exploration mission, the mission turned its attention from exploration objectives to scientific research in NASA's Science Mission Directorate.
Do I need a sarc tag?
Gee, thought it was all faked in a studio.
More detail here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuwyY2DzO2I
I'll be even more impressed when they photograph the golf bals
Where are the Soviet landing cites? HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!! Wheeze....
facked? Yes, I guess there are some idiots that still say that.
But when I lived in NM I knew one of the last 2 men to actually walk on the moon. He still lives there. Jack Schmidtt.
That mission really took some guts. I am still in awe about the whole Apollo Program.
Maybe I missed something, but, why did they leave the buggy so far from the Lander? Looks like they drove it off a ways and then walked back to the landing site for some reason.
Run it out of juice?
FReeper practice seems to be to not include photographs in posts talking about images or pictures. So, please forgive me for actually including photographs in an article talking about photographs. /s /rant
The fact that not a single one of the thousands of people who worked in the Apollo program have ever leaked a word about the hoax doesn't seem to deter the conspiracy loons.
I guess they're all sworn to secrecy on pain of death... /sarc
Yeah those loons have been pretty quiet lately haven't they?
Better view of the LM liftoff. It was away from the debris plume that resulted from the ascent stage breaking away from the lower stage. On 17 it gave the camera operator in Houston a wider angle to pan the camera up and follow the ascent stage almost out of sight.
I’ll believe it when I see the ‘Capricorn One’ photos.
The faking landers aren’t going to be happy about this are they?
That’s great. Very well done.
“Gee, what are we gonna do now that the last STS mission’s over with?”
“I dunno - maybe I’ll surf the hard-drive and see what I can come up with...”
Sheesh - and we’re paying these folks...
My brother has the same idea about 9/11, I tell him if it was an inside job, wheres the people out of the thousands that would have to have been involved blowing the whistle at? He says, “their families would be killed”. I just laugh.
They probably had more than a 1/100 chance of complete crew loss i.e. more than the space shuttle had. Lucky.
In the end, these became geology expeditions. Interesting at that level, more than the transportation aspect; but still ordinary.
I think the unmanned missions since have been just as spectacular.
It’s absolutely beyond me how anyone could say this was staged. The amount of cover up and sealed lips up to this point would’ve taken a monumental effort on an order never before seen in human history.
As an amateur astronomer, it still kills me when I’ve got my 14” Dob out on a clear autumn evening and some stranger comes and asks, “Can you see the lunar landing site with that thing?”
My bemused response is always to point the thing straight at the full moon and laugh as they squint through the lens.
If you run the pictures thru Adobe and separate the layers it’s obvious that they’ve been faked in Photoshop, combining different images at different resolutions and font depths. I can tell because of the pixels; those colors didn’t exist in 1972.
Where are the golf balls?
awesome post. thanks
Every black kid in my 6th grade class in Houston Texas at the time believed that it was faked.
It was Ender’s Game in reverse. They were in a building with no windows and just believed that they were in on a real moon landing when the astronauts were in the other room behind one way glass trying not to giggle.
Maybe I missed something, but, why did they leave the buggy so far from the Lander? Looks like they drove it off a ways and then walked back to the landing site for some reason.I assume it was because the video camera was mounted to the buggy, and they wanted to position the buggy so it could get a good shot of the Lunar Module Ascent Stage taking off. The camera could be controlled from Earth, and on the last few landings, they managed to get some good shots of the astronauts taking off.
As a friend of mine said, it is nice that we now have the technology to take a photograph of a place we actually visited 42 years ago!
I thought that odd as well leaving the buggy far away. My first thought it might have an instrument package to be seperate from the others? (Triangulations, etc.)
How about so it wouldn’t get damaged and debris hit the lander on takeoff?
Or perhaps “It’s such a nice evening - why don’t we walk home?”
Speaking of walks - the paths are interesting - very business like. Obviously with an air-pack one’s time is limited. But if it were me on the moon, I would have wandered around a bit just looking and exploring.
“Oh look, another grey rock! And what is that over there? Oh - another grey rock!!”
So are you suggesting there is merit to this analysis? Has the secret, so thoroughly kept hidden by 400,000 space program workers for more than 40 years, at last been revealed?
Obvious fakes. (/laughable s/)
I guess they locked in all of the Air Force personnel who monitored the launches and all of the hundreds of private contractors who built the equipment, too. And the reporters....maybe they were just told to shut up and read the script.
I've talked to people who really do believe that the moon landings were hoaxed. You cannot penetrate their beliefs with logic or reason. Like liberalism, it's an article of faith with some people.
And the Russians. Don’t forget the Russians. Their radar followed our spacecraft to the Moon and back, just like we did. Course, being really great guys and all, when they saw we were faking it, they decided to keep their mouths shut.
Yeah, they didn’t know that the rocket actually was just shot harmlessly into the sea while the astronauts were hidden in a special blast-proof room at the top of the tower. Only the very small tower support crew was aware of the ruse. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.
The problem with all these conspiracy theory folks is that they offer either no evidence or a laughable and complete missreading of existing evidence to make their point. A good example is the two photos in a previous post. The author ignores the simple fact that a LOT of walking around was happening in the area in the foreground in the 24 hours between the photos.
They seem to think the guys went outside to snap a photo, ran back in where it was warm and then, 24 hours later, ran back out to snap a quick color photo.
It's a conspiracy, man!
On 16, the camera was in better shape but the ground operator didn't have the "feel" for the ground-to-air time delay and so did not pan the camera upward rapidly enough to follow the LM ascent, so it too kind of vanishes quickly from the image.
The best image of the takeoff and ascent was on 17 where the operator was able to track the LM ascent stage for quite a long distance. The camera was fully functional for a long time after the LM left the moon, until the rover batteries died.
Not a lot of people know it, but the lunar rover initial design called for a feature that would allow it to be controlled remotely from Earth after the astronauts left. The ground controllers would then be able to drive and steer the rover into places deemed too dangerous for the crew to explore. For example, on Apollo 15, they could have driven the rover down to the bottom of Hadley Rille. On Apollo 16, they likely would have tried to drive it up the steep slope of Stone Mountain. Alas, the remote operation feature was never incorporated in the as-built models, so once parked, the rovers remained stationary, and are still there today.
Oh, man. I should have known it was them all along.
Obviously, overnight wind storms erased the rover tracks.
Yep. To those of us connecting the dots, it is as obvious as the smirk on your face. ;->
Well, they did lose the Apollo 1 crew, remember. And Apollo 13 certainly was a close call. Flying things that fast, that far, involving that much stored energy, well, it’s just risky business. But still worthwhile, IMNSHO.
Because they used the remote controlled camera on the lander to transmit the liftoff the ascent stage of the LEM..That's where the video came from.
These photos are great reminders of a time when Americans, who are now grandfathers and great-grandfathers, could actually conceive, design and successfully implement the most complex project in mankind's history in less time than it takes to get EPA permits approved and construct a city building today.
Starting from scratch they released men from the confines of the earth for the first time in history, sent them to the moon and brought them home safely.
Today with a budget and workforce many times larger, NASA can't even send a crew into low earth orbit. It isn't due to a lack of skills and ability, it is a lack of real leadership in a government headed up by small, incompetent, bitter people.
But what about Apollo 18?
“As a friend of mine said, it is nice that we now have the technology to take a photograph of a place we actually visited 42 years ago!”
Well, the media cried “Why are we spending money out there when we can spend it on things here?”
So, we now have a 42 years’ mature welfare state instead of a 42 years’ mature space industry.
In hindsight we made the wrong, wrong, wrong choice.
Haven’t seen that movie yet, just the trailer. They pitch it like it’s a “true story” of a recently discovered secret mission to the Moon.
Does anybody know how the movie-makers finisse the tiny little issue of a “secret” Saturn V liftoff? Nobody noticed it? Was everybody looking the other way that day?
Not that I won’t be able to enjoy the movie. But I am dreading the day one of my students repeats back to me verbatim the “truth” of the secret Apollo 18 mission.