September 6, 2011
LRO Produces Sharp Images Of Apollo Landing Sites
NASA said on Tuesday that its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has captured the sharpest images ever taken from space of the Apollo 12, 14 and 17 landing sites.The space agency said the images show the twists and turns of the paths made when the astronauts explored the lunar surface.
The tracks laid down by the lunar rover during the Apollo 17 site are clearly visible in the images.
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," 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, said in a press release.
NASA said the three images show distinct trails left in the moon's thin soil when the astronauts exited the lunar modules and explored on foot.
"The new low-altitude Narrow Angle Camera images sharpen our view of the moon's surface," Arizona State University researcher Mark Robinson, principal investigator for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), said in a press release.
"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."
Trails at each site 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.
NASA said the details of an image taken from the site of the Apollo 12 mission shows the locations of cables running from ALSEP's central station to two of its instruments.
"These images remind us of our fantastic Apollo history and beckon us to continue to move forward in exploration of our solar system," Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said in a press release.
Image Caption: 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)
On the Net:
- Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)
- Apollo Revisited: More images of Apollo sites from LRO
- Additional imagery related to this story from ASU's LROC website
- Video: Apollo 17 Lunar Rover