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LRO Briefing: Latest Images of Apollo Landing Sites
September 6, 2011
 

NASA will host a media teleconference at noon on Tuesday, Sept. 6, to reveal new images of three Apollo landing sites taken by the agency's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO.

› Press release
 



Briefing Speakers


› Jim Green, director, Planetary Science Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
› Mark Robinson, principal investigator, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, Arizona State University, Tempe
› Richard Vondrak, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter project scientist, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.





Images and Multimedia in Support of the News Conference


Presenter: Jim Green, director, Planetary Science Division, NASA Headquarters

No visuals.





Presenter: Mark Robinson, principal investigator, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, Arizona State University



image comparing views of Apollo 17 landing site as seen by LRO
 
Figure 1: Resolution comparison between nominal orbit images of the Apollo 17 landing site (a, b) and the new low orbit image (c; 27 cm x 56 cm pixel size). What is visible in an image is not simply a matter of the size of a pixel projected onto the surface. Sun angle and direction are also important factors, as is the exposure level. When the Sun is high above the horizon differences in surface brightness are enhanced, and when the Sun is low surface roughness is more obvious. Linear features are enhanced when they lie perpendicular to the direction to the Sun, and tend to disappear when parallel. When an image is underexposed or overexposed contrast and detail suffer. The top two images (a,b) have larger pixel scales (49 cm, 54 cm) and incidence angles (55° and 21° from vertical) that bracket the new higher resolution image (c; 45°).

Credit: NASA/Goddard/ASU
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view of Apollo 17 landing site as seen by LRO Figure 2: The twists and turns of the last tracks left by humans on the moon crisscross the surface in this LRO image of the Apollo 17 site. In the thin lunar soil, the trails made by astronauts on foot can be easily distinguished from the dual tracks left by the lunar roving vehicle, or LRV. Also seen in this image are the descent stage of the Challenger lunar module and the LRV, parked to the east.

The LRV gave the Apollo 17 astronauts, Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt, considerable mobility. As in previous Apollo missions, the astronauts set up the lunar monitoring equipment known as the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP), the details of which varied from mission to mission. To the west of the landing site, the cross-shaped path that the astronauts made as they set up the geophones to monitor seismic activity can be seen.

To the east, more rover tracks can be seen. Cernan made these when he laid out the 35-meter antennas for the Surface Electrical Properties, or SEP, experiment. SEP, a separate investigation from ALSEP, characterized the electrical properties of the lunar soil.

Below the SEP experiment is where the astronauts parked the rover, in a prime spot to shoot video of the liftoff of the Challenger module.

Credit: NASA/Goddard/ASU
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Figure 3: This video, released Sept. 6, 2011, shows the latest view of the Apollo 17 landing site as seen by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. The LRO image is paired with photographs from around the site taken by astronauts during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. (no audio) Credit: NASA/Goddard/ASU
› Download larger video




views of Apollo 14 landing site as seen by LRO Figure 4: The paths left by astronauts Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell on both Apollo 14 moon walks are visible in this LRO 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.

Apollo 14 landed near Fra Mauro crater in February 1971. On the first moon walk, the astronauts set up the lunar monitoring equipment known as the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP) to the west of the landing site and collected just over 42 kilograms (about 92 pounds) of lunar samples. Luckily for them, they had a rickshaw-style cart called the modular equipment transporter, or MET, that they could use to carry equipment and samples.

Credit: NASA/Goddard/ASU
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views of Apollo 12 landing site as seen by LRO Figure 5: The tracks made in 1969 by astronauts Pete Conrad and Alan Bean, the third and fourth humans to walk on the moon, can be seen in this LRO image of the Apollo 12 site. The location of the descent stage for Apollo 12's lunar module, Intrepid, also can be seen.

Conrad and Bean performed two moon walks on this flat lava plain in the Oceanus Procellarum region of the moon. In the first walk, they collected samples and chose the location for the lunar monitoring equipment known as the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP). The ALSEP sent scientific data about the moon's interior and surface environment back to Earth for more than seven years.

One of the details visible in this image is a bright L-shape that marks the locations of cables running from ALSEP's central station to two of its instruments. These instruments are probably (left) the Suprathermal Ion Detector Experiment, or SIDE, which studied positively charged particles near the moon's surface, and (right) the Lunar Surface Magnetometer, or LSM, which looked for variations in the moon's magnetic field over time; these two instruments had the longest cables running from the central station. Though the cables are much too small to be seen directly, they show up because the material they are made from reflects light very well.

In the second moon walk, Conrad and Bean set out from the descent stage and looped around Head crater, visiting Bench crater and Sharp crater, then headed east and north to the landing site of Surveyor 3. There, the astronauts collected some hardware from the unmanned Surveyor spacecraft, which had landed two years earlier.

The two astronauts covered this entire area on foot, carrying all of their tools and equipment and more than 32 kilograms (roughly 60 pounds) of lunar samples.

Credit: NASA/Goddard/ASU
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Presenter: Richard Vondrak, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter project scientist, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

No visuals.




Supplemental Materials


Broadcast quality video related to this story can be downloaded from NASA Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio.

For additional multimedia, please view NASA's feature story or visit ASU's LRO Camera website.




Media Contact


Nancy Neal Jones
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Office of Communications
Nancy.N.Jones@nasa.gov
301-286-0039

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