Hitting back at growing conspiracies denying the moon landing, NASA released new images on Tuesday of three lunar landing sites, taken by the agency’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).
The images show where the landing craft touched down, footprints of the astronauts, the flag, the left behind craft, the Lunar Roving Vehicle, and even some of the gear they left behind. NASA also released a video explaining the content of the images.
This latest revelation may not be enough to satisfy all the skeptics, but it does give some strong evidence of the lunar landing. Check out the video below to see the new images and their descriptions from NASA (no audio).
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Below are the images and their descriptions from NASA:
Figure 1: Resolution comparison between nominal orbit images of the Apollo 17 landing site (a, b) and the new low orbit image (c; 27 cm x 56 cm pixel size). What is visible in an image is not simply a matter of the size of a pixel projected onto the surface. Sun angle and direction are also important factors, as is the exposure level. When the Sun is high above the horizon differences in surface brightness are enhanced, and when the Sun is low surface roughness is more obvious. Linear features are enhanced when they lie perpendicular to the direction to the Sun, and tend to disappear when parallel. When an image is underexposed or overexposed contrast and detail suffer. The top two images (a,b) have larger pixel scales (49 cm, 54 cm) and incidence angles (55° and 21° from vertical) that bracket the new higher resolution image (c; 45°).
Figure 2: The twists and turns of the last tracks left by humans on the moon crisscross the surface in this LRO image of the Apollo 17 site. In the thin lunar soil, the trails made by astronauts on foot can be easily distinguished from the dual tracks left by the lunar roving vehicle, or LRV. Also seen in this image are the descent stage of the Challenger lunar module and the LRV, parked to the east.
The LRV gave the Apollo 17 astronauts, Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt, considerable mobility. As in previous Apollo missions, the astronauts set up the lunar monitoring equipment known as the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP), the details of which varied from mission to mission. To the west of the landing site, the cross-shaped path that the astronauts made as they set up the geophones to monitor seismic activity can be seen.
To the east, more rover tracks can be seen. Cernan made these when he laid out the 35-meter antennas for the Surface Electrical Properties, or SEP, experiment. SEP, a separate investigation from ALSEP, characterized the electrical properties of the lunar soil.
Below the SEP experiment is where the astronauts parked the rover, in a prime spot to shoot video of the liftoff of the Challenger module.
(Figure 3 was the video)
Figure 4: The paths left by astronauts Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell on both Apollo 14 moon walks are visible in this LRO 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.
Apollo 14 landed near Fra Mauro crater in February 1971. On the first moon walk, the astronauts set up the lunar monitoring equipment known as the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP) to the west of the landing site and collected just over 42 kilograms (about 92 pounds) of lunar samples. Luckily for them, they had a rickshaw-style cart called the modular equipment transporter, or MET, that they could use to carry equipment and samples.
Figure 5: The tracks made in 1969 by astronauts Pete Conrad and Alan Bean, the third and fourth humans to walk on the moon, can be seen in this LRO image of the Apollo 12 site. The location of the descent stage for Apollo 12’s lunar module, Intrepid, also can be seen.
Conrad and Bean performed two moon walks on this flat lava plain in the Oceanus Procellarum region of the moon. In the first walk, they collected samples and chose the location for the lunar monitoring equipment known as the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP). The ALSEP sent scientific data about the moon’s interior and surface environment back to Earth for more than seven years.
One of the details visible in this image is a bright L-shape that marks the locations of cables running from ALSEP’s central station to two of its instruments. These instruments are probably (left) the Suprathermal Ion Detector Experiment, or SIDE, which studied positively charged particles near the moon’s surface, and (right) the Lunar Surface Magnetometer, or LSM, which looked for variations in the moon’s magnetic field over time; these two instruments had the longest cables running from the central station. Though the cables are much too small to be seen directly, they show up because the material they are made from reflects light very well.
In the second moon walk, Conrad and Bean set out from the descent stage and looped around Head crater, visiting Bench crater and Sharp crater, then headed east and north to the landing site of Surveyor 3. There, the astronauts collected some hardware from the unmanned Surveyor spacecraft, which had landed two years earlier.
The two astronauts covered this entire area on foot, carrying all of their tools and equipment and more than 32 kilograms (roughly 60 pounds) of lunar samples.
And here is the video from the 1969 moon landing:
[box_light]Images courtesy of NASA/Goddard/ASU[/box_light]