Lunar Satellite Reveals Apollo 16 Remains

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) made a low pass over the Apollo 16 site last fall, capturing images of the leftovers from John Young and Charlie Duke’s 1972 exploration of the Descartes Highlands. The video above takes us on a tour of the Apollo 16 site from lunar orbit, and includes audio from the original communications and some very nice comparative photos and video clips showing the same features from ground level.

The goal of Apollo 16 was to explore for the first time a lunar highlands location, and collect samples of what were initially thought to be volcanic rocks. The rocks were believed to be of a different material than what was collected during previous missions.

As it turned out, the rocks collected by Duke and Young weren’t volcanic in origin at all; they ended up being breccias — cemented-together chunks ejected from ancient cratering events hundreds of miles away.

Apollo 16 also set up various experiment packages to study lunar geology, magnetism and the solar wind. The Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) allowed Young and Duke to travel across a much wider area than they would have otherwise been able to on foot. It was the second mission to use an LRV, and the rover — as well as its tracks — are still there today, looking exactly as they did when they were left 40 years ago.


The Apollo 16 ascent stage lifted off from the lunar surface on the evening of April 23, 1972 and docked with the Command Module containing Ken Mattingly. The following day the astronauts began their trip back to Earth, completing the 250,000-mile traverse three days later on April 27.

The Moon would be visited again in December of that same year during Apollo 17, the last mission of the program and the last time that humans would walk on the surface of another world. Now, 40 years later, satellites orbiting the Moon take pictures of what was left behind by these historic events. Perhaps someday soon the sites will be visited from ground level… maybe even by a new generation of astronauts.

Panorama of the Descartes Highlands site made from 3 Hasselblad film image scans combined together. (NASA/JSC/J. Major)

Read more about this on Arizona State University’s LROC site, and explore the full-frame Narrow-Angle Camera image from the LROC here.

Video: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

24 Replies to “Lunar Satellite Reveals Apollo 16 Remains”

  1. I like! Especially impressive was the length of the drive from the LEM. Gives the definition of ‘Dedicated Driver’ a new and even more sober definition!

      1. Continues even further with a SciFi short story? A tour driver responds to a lunar omnibus’ passenger’s question… “Craters? Yeah, we got craters.. but here we call em ‘pot holes’.”

    1. William, you’re British aren’t you? Why is it that so many British twits believe that the US never landed on the moon? It’s like arguing with a toddler. You are beyond parody.

      1. Because they can’t get over the fact that they’ve lost the bloody Empire!

      2. Atlas, What we have recently seen on the news. 1/ Russian photos of the earth from a distance of 246 miles up show real clarity and dust storms. 2/ Googles satalite camera which is 460 miles up showing clearly houses and other buildings, Nasa shuttle launch pad, and to add insult to injury they state they can even recognise a dustbin lid. No need for arrows and descriptions. Now if as you say you landed on the moon then all this gear should be there dont you agree. Well if thats the case then why cant NASA display clear close up photos of it just as the Russians and google are doing, and just remember the moon orbitor is only 15 miles above the surface. Now for another tale as I have mentioned before. From my old home in S Wales I could stand on a hill and look 15 miles to Cardiff with my naked likkle fwcking eye and see many buildings and even the football stadium. So over to you, why cant this crap orbitor show anything.

  2. A couple of years ago I questioned as to how a big buggy like that could be carried inside a small craft like that. Back came the reply, it wasnt carried inside it was slung underneath. HMM is that so. I then question as to why it didnt get burned up from the exhaust thruster? ah m hm um, OH I know, came the new reply, it was folded in half and hung from one side, HMM, is that so. Now all af you just examine this photo and tell me, can you see any space under this craft where one could hang that buggy? Over to you lunartics

  3. New on here so here is some more comments you have not read. This orbitor is only 15 miles above the surface of the moon and all it can show is white dots. Where I lived in S Wales I could stand on a hill 15 miles from Cardiff and with my naked likkle fwcking eye see the maillenium football stadium , the pearl insurance building and many more buildings. THATS WITH MY NAKED LIKKLE FWCKING EYE. and all this orbitor can show is likkle white dots. My dick has got bells on it. Only two weeks ago Google displayed their satalite camera from a staggering hight of 425 miles above the earth and one could even, as they stated recognise a dustbin lid. Also quite cleary displayed without any indication arrows was NASA s launch pad for the shuttle

  4. They never landed on the moon full stop. All the photos are faked and done on the earth. The reason they cannot show you the crafts as google can do with their camera is because there is SFA up ther to show you.

    1. William I suggest (sigh) you read books on astronomy, engineering, physics, photography, space science, and selenography, and you might….just might, twig they actually did go and you are just ignorant. Enough said..I’ve wasted enough time on you.

  5. Have any of you seen the new lander they are designing to land on the planet mars? It has got 4 thrusters , one at each corner for stability, now that makes sense. This piece of junk they claim to have used to land on the moon only had ONE central thruster, just like in the old space films of Dan Dare. such a craft would be impossible to land or take of because it would be unstable. Do a little experiment for ypurself, take a fireworks rocket and remove the stick, then stand it up and light the fuse, it will not go up but flop all over the place. UNSTABLE.

      1. This would be a bit like balancing a unicycle, compared with balancing a four wheeler bike. This supposed design idea has no plausibility.

  6. If the temperature on the moon was warm enough for a camera to work, why did they need bulky heated spacesuits, ordinary clothes with an oxygen mask would have done the job. Something is fishy about these Apollo stories.

    1. Another ignorant fool. The spacesuits were not to keep them warm but keep the temp stable and to protect them from radiation, micometeorites, and keep AIR in and the vacuum of space out…

      1. Temp Stable =BS .
        Radiation = Nonsense, suits do not stop radiation.
        Micrometeorites = Nonsense, suits do not stop micrometeorites.
        Keep air in = Nonsense, only need a nose & mouth mask.
        Keep vacuum out = Nonsense, the moon atmosphere is not a vacuum.

  7. Of course the “deniers” will say all the relics are faked, its a pity there are not enough places in lunatic asylums to put the deniers, they are obviously five cans short of a six pack.

  8. Some say the mayan calendar predicts the end of the world in the year 2012, incorrect, what it is displaying is 2012 will be the end of the moon landing hoax. AH AH AH

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