Feeds

NASA orbiter returns first shots of Apollo moon sites

Bigger, better pics to come

The essential guide to IT transformation

NASA's lunar orbiter has returned its first pictures of the Apollo moon landing sites. The images — showing the missions' lunar module descent stages accented by their shadows from a low sun angle — may at least prove to die-hard conspiracy theorists that NASA went to considerable lengths to relocate its secret movie studio in the Nevada desert.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) was able take pictures of five of the six Apollo sites between July 11 and 15. The yet un-depicted Apollo 12 site is expected to be photographed in coming weeks.

The initial pictures are somewhat lacking in detail because they were taken before the spacecraft reached its final mapping orbit. NASA says future images of the Apollo sites will have two to three times greater resolution.

Apollo 11 landing site, courtesy NASA/Arizona State University

"The LROC team anxiously awaited each image," said LROC chief investigator Mark Robinson of Arizona State University. "We were very interested in getting our first peek at the lunar module descent stages just for the thrill — and to see how well the cameras had come into focus. Indeed, the images are fantastic and so is the focus."

NASA explains that LRO's elliptical orbit made the image resolution for each site slightly different but were all around four feet per pixel. With the deck of the Apollo decent stage at about 12 feet in diameter, they fill a total of about nine pixels. But because the sun was low to the horizon at the time, small variations to the Moon's topography create long shadows, allowing the relics to better stand out.

The Apollo 14 landing site had particularly advantageous lighting conditions at the time, allowing details such as the astronaut footpath between the module and instrument package to be visible.

Apollo 14 landing site, courtesy NASA/Arizona State University

To view the complete collection of the first Apollo landing site images, check here or here. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?