July 17, 2009

Orbiter returns images of moon landing

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has returned its first images of the Apollo moon landing sites, NASA officials said Friday.

The images captured by the orbiter's camera show descent modules sitting on the moon's surface, NASA said. The modules appear as long shadows captured from a low sun angle.

The orbiter's camera captured images of five of the six Apollo landing sites with the remaining Apollo 12 site expected to be photographed in coming weeks, NASA said.

The orbiter captured the Apollo sites July 11-15. Future images from the sites are expected to have two to three times greater resolution after the spacecraft reaches its final mapping orbit, NASA said.

The first Apollo landing occurred July 20, 1969, with astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landing on the moon in the Lunar Excursion Module while Michael Collins orbited above. Five subsequent Apollo missions also landed astronauts on the moon, the last one in 1972.