LRO Takes Closer Look at Apollo 17 Landing Site

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter maneuvered into its 50-km mapping orbit on September 15, which enables it to take a closer look at the Moon than any previous orbiter. This also allows for comparing previous images taken by LRO when it was at its higher orbit. Here’s the Apollo 17 landing site: just look at what is all visible, especially in the image below! These images have more than two times better resolution than the previously acquired images.

Region of Taurus-Littrow valley around the Apollo 17 landing site. NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University.
Region of Taurus-Littrow valley around the Apollo 17 landing site. NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University.

At the time of this recent pass, the Sun was high in the sky (28° incidence angle) helping to bring out subtle differences in surface brightness. The descent stage of the lunar module Challenger is now clearly visible, at 50-cm per pixel (angular resolution) the descent stage deck is eight pixels across (four meters), and the legs are also now distinguishable. The descent stage served as the launch pad for the ascent stage as it blasted off for a rendezvous with the command module America on December 14, 1972.

Also visible is the ALSEP, the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments, which for Apollo 17 included 1) Lunar Seismic Profiling Experiment (geophones), 2) Lunar Atmospheric Composition Experiment (LACE) to measure the composition of the Moon’s extremely tenuous surface bound exosphere, 3) Lunar Ejecta and Meteorites (LEAM) experiment, 4) central station, 5) Heat Flow Experiment, 6) all powered by a Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG). Below is how it looked from the surface, taken by the Apollo astronauts.

View of the ALSEP looking south-southeast.  Credit: NASA
View of the ALSEP looking south-southeast. Credit: NASA

Compare these most recent images to one taken previously.

Apollo 17 LRO. Credit: NASA
Apollo 17 LRO. Credit: NASA

See more images from LRO’s previous looks at the Apollo landing sites

See more at the LROC site.

22 Replies to “LRO Takes Closer Look at Apollo 17 Landing Site”

  1. OMG! That’s so incredible! Of course the “Apollo Conspiracy” nuts won’t be convinced, but then there’s no reasoning with the clinically paranoid either.

  2. These are some ‘authentic’, mesmerizing images of of undisuputed proof of actual landings on the moon by Apollo astronauts!

  3. Anyone that can look at these awesome images and STILL say the moon landing was faked should be sent back to school immediately.

    I remember someone said something along the lines of ” The moon landing was faked. If it was real, why don’t we see any pictures of it?” This was a few weeks AFTER the original LRO pictures of the Apollo landing site were posted.

    That aside, great pics! Definitely better quality than last time; I can actually see the trails this time 😛

  4. How com there is a flag on the moon if there is no oxygen there.

    I have worked on Hobble Space Telescope and I know it couldn’t take those pictures because NASA didn’t want us to point it at the moon.

  5. Bariman43: “Anyone that can look at these awesome images and STILL say the moon landing was faked should be sent back to school immediately.”

    I will look something like my previous comment (which was a joke but I just couldn’t help myself)

  6. CLEARLY! this fake lander was put there by the black shuttles that the government is hiding from us since they don’t want us to know that they have met with aliens and their true space capabilities are much higher… oh. wait.

  7. I just think it is so wild that you can see their footprints (trail) that they walked while they were there. Amazing.

  8. In response to Bariman43, October 28th, 2009 at 4:58 pm questions about the “fake” moon landing…..

    These are fake pictures of the fake landing. There are no real pictures of the fake landing nor are there fake pictures of the real landing. There are, however, real pictures of the real landing which were taken by Elvis & MJ on their last pass through.

  9. The lunar rover tracks were covered up by the astronauts so they couldn’t be seen with the Hobble Space Telescope (?) 🙂

    In order for NASA to have faked the landings they would have to STILL be paying about 400,000 ex-employees to keep their mouths shut after 40 years… which means it would be a whole lot cheaper to just go to the moon.
    Oh yeah, the rover tires were specially made to not disturb moon dust. The static made it stick to the wheels so it didn’t leave an imprint!
    By now, the rover is probably stripped and up on blocks with those special wheels missing – I heard they were in a pawn shop in Vegas.

  10. Someone wondered about the flag. At the time, it was easy to see what they did. They had an L shaped probe with the flag tied in the angle. They pushed the long leg into the soil and left it there.

  11. @mirekk1977, you claim to have worked on the Hobble[sic] Space Telescope. By any chance did your work included grinding and testing the first flawed mirror used at the beginning of the mission? 🙂

  12. I “worked” on the HST indirectly. I estimated the optical life of the mirror in the space environment. In particular micormeteroids and orbital debris could over time put small pits in the mirror. It was a rather complicated, though not conceptually difficult , problem to work. I estimated a 50% chance of serious optical degredation by 2015, which is well outside the operating life span of the instrument.

    The moon landing deniers could easily argue these pictures were photoshopped up. I am not sure why people want to deny this. It might be questioned whether the Apollo program was particularly worthwhile from a science perspective. However, I suspect there are very few places in the universe where there are life forms which built machines that carried them to nearby planetary bodies. It was if nothing else extraordinary.


  13. it’s my understanding that the hObble wouldn’t have sufficient resolution to see such small details on the surface of the moon.
    the optics probably wouldn’t work well either. the moon is fairly bright compared to the usual objects that our beloved hObble is normally used to study.

  14. The Hubble is not set up to look at bright objects. I also don’t think it has the resolution to look for a truck sized object at a lunar distance.


  15. @ LBC

    The moon landing deniers could easily argue these pictures were photoshopped up. I am not sure why people want to deny this.

    Could it be the same passion that drives our EU friends?

  16. It is mysterious. I can at least understand the motive of creationists, for they have a theological system they need to defend, which involves ideas about their immortal soul and so forth. But as for why somebody would passionately argue again the history of lunar landings, or why somebody would ardently argue for EU pseudoscience is more mysterious. Then of course there are the myriad conspiracy theories, and even a crowd of people completely devoted to showing the Willian Shakespeare was a fraud.

    I suppose people want some sense of connection to something fundamental or beyond their ordinary existence. In some of these pseudo-science cases it might just come down to laziness. They can’t take the time and energy to learn the real stuff.

    I also must confess that I have trouble with popularizations of science. They can be well written by people competent to write on these topics. Yet it seems as often as not that people read these and walk away with the wrong idea about things.


  17. blah blah anaconda… blah blah EU … blah blah we can’t stop abandoning the topic so we can troll and start squabbles with the same guy every thread…

    this forum is no longer of any interest to me. and to think that i used to look up to you guys.

    to the authors: keep up the good work. i’ll continue to read your work on this site.

    to the people who have ruined the forum portion of the site: thanks. and goodbye.

  18. “”To the people who have ruined the forum portion of the site: thanks. and goodbye.”

    SEE YA! No sense of humor or what? Life is too short my quasi friend! Making fun of the conspiracy theorists is always a little fun….

    BTW, The Paranal Telescope in Chile claims they are able to spot astronauts on the moon, as well as all the junk that is still there. I would love to see it with my own eyes of course…….

  19. Sorry to bust your bubble folks but the Apollo 17 mission was never in doubt. The conspiricy theory is about the FIRST landing ONLY! This mission was YEARS AFTER THAT & also after the almost tragic Apollo 13 mission. Get me some pictures of that & we can finally put the issue to rest.
    As for Hubble, it was designed to look at the darkest areas of space & as the moon is the brightest thing in the night sky, pics of it would be very dificult to get without over-exposure… Something you would know if you really worked on it, along with how to spell its name correctly.

  20. I remember watching the whole of the Apollo programme and landings [as well as the Mercury, Gemini, Vostok, Voskhod etc] with bated breath and sense of wonderment and thinking when A17 left the Moon, “Within 15 years I’ll be there too”. Had things gone to plan I would have been holidaying there! I’m now 54 and feel that those pictures of the landing sites will be the only ones I’ll see never mind setting foot there. All very disappointing.

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