Apollo 12 and Surveyor 3!
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla
03-09-2009 14:47 CDT
I just went to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera home page to begin downloading a massive image to pore over and discuss, and what should I find there but a photo of the Apollo 12 landing site, which includes the earlier robotic lander Surveyor 3! I won't take the time to write much more than that -- I have been promising myself that when I make the time to write about an LROC image, I'll focus on geology -- but I feel like I must post it here, along with Phil Stooke's marvelously reconstructed version of the panoramic view from the Surveyor 3 lander. I love the fact that you can see astronaut tracks so clearly in these images. There's much better to come; LRO isn't even in its final science orbit yet (that happens in the middle of this month).The LROC website has a nice summary of the Apollo 12 mission.
UPDATE: Here's some interesting insight into this image from Phil Stooke: "The tracks will let us revise the [Apollo 12] EVA map - it's wrong in several places." Cool. Furthermore, he said, "Surveyor rode down on a retro-rocket, then discarded it and set down gently on small vernier rockets. That retro-rocket (especially its big spherical fuel tank) is somewhere near here, waiting to be discovered. I might predict that it will be the first piece of exploration hardware to be discovered in an LROC image, if a Lunokhod doesn't come along first." If you want to hunt for that lost (though, admittedly, unlooked-for) piece of Surveyor hardware, you can go here to download the full-size TIFF file of the LROC image. Keep in mind that there's no guarantee the tank is actually on this high-resolution image.Here's the view from Surveyor 3:
Or read more blog entries about: