Thursday, March 15, 2012

Apollo Landing Sites Revisited

Image shows descent stage of the Apollo 11 lunar module, Eagle. Image credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University.

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has been orbiting our Moon since 2009, taking amazing high-resolution images of its surface. In 2011 NASA decided to lower the LRO's mapping orbit from its usual 50 km (30 miles) down to 25 km (15 miles). While the spacecraft could not sustain this orbit indefinitely, because variations in the density of the Moon would soon pull the spacecraft to the surface, it could operate at that height for short periods of time. And during those short periods the LRO team obtained amazing images of the Apollo landing sites.

Of course, the primary goal of the LRO mission is to pave the way for the future by returning detailed lunar data. This data will help identify safe landing sites for future explorers, locate potential resources, describe the moon's radiation environment and demonstrate new technologies. Even so, these images help to remind us of mankind's past achievements, while shaping mankind's dreams for the future.

The full detail of the Apollo site imaging can be seen here:


No comments: