Feeds

NASA releases stunning new moon-landing snaps

No, not taken at a secret Hollywood film studio

Intelligent flash storage arrays

NASA has released a series of photos of Apollo moon-landing sites that are dramatically improved over previous photos taken as recently as 2009.

The photos were taken by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), which was launched on June 18, 2009 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, along with the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS).

The landing sites in the new photos included those of the second manned moon landing, Apollo 12 of November 1969; the third, Apollo 14 of January 1971 (all Tom Hanks fans know what happed to Apollo 13); and the final visit of man to the moon, Apollo 17 of December 1972 – nearly 39 years ago.

The photos made in 2009 were also captured by the LRO, but at its standard altitude of 50 kilometers (31 miles). For the new series, its elliptical orbit was adjusted so that it dipped as low as 21 kilometers (13 miles).

Apollo 17 landing site as photographed in 2009

The landing site of the Apollo 17 mission, as photographed in 2009

Apollo 17 landing site as photographed in 2011

The landing site of the Apollo 17 mission, as photographed in 2011 (click to enlarge)

"Without changing the average altitude, we made the orbit more elliptical, so the lowest part of the orbit is on the sunlit side of the Moon," said deputy LRO project scientist John Keller in a NASA release. "This put LRO in a perfect position to take these new pictures of the surface."

The new images clearly show the lunar landing modules for each mission, plus the instrument cluster known as the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP), variations of which came along on each mission.

Apollo 12 landing site as photographed in 2009

The landing site of the Apollo 12 mission, as photographed in 2009

Apollo 12 landing site as photographed in 2011

The landing site of the Apollo 12 mission, as photographed in 2011 (click to enlarge)

Also clearly visible in the new images are the astronauts tracks in the lunar dust. The Apollo 17 images also show tracks of the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) – more affectionately known as the "moon buggy", along with its final resting place.

One striking detail in the Apollo 12 image is a pair of lines radiating out from the ALSEP at a right angle. These are cables leading to two of the ALSEP's instruments, brightly lit by the reflection of the sun.

Another detail in the Apollo 12 image: astronauts' footprints leading to the unmanned Surveyor 3 spacecraft, which had landed on the moon in April of 1967, and which the Apollo 12 astronauts photographed during their visit.

For more lunar nostalgia, check out older images provided by NASA, and marvel at a time when giant leaps were made for mankind. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
What's that STINK? Rosetta probe shoves nose under comet's tail
Rotten eggs, horse dung and almonds – yuck
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.