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Elizabeth "Zibi" TurtleJuly 17, 2009

LROC images sites of the Apollo landings!

by Zibi Turtle

Apollo 14 Landing Site

Apollo 14 Landing Site

unar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) image of the Apollo 14 landing site, showing the lunar module (LM) and the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Package (ALSEP), instruments which were deployed by the astronauts. Tracks left by the astronauts over 38 years ago can be seen running between the two.

ver the last week, as the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter team's waited impatiently, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) has imaged all but one of the Apollo landing sites. The images released today show the sites of Apollo missions 11 and 14 through 17 (the Apollo 12 site will be imaged in the next few weeks).
Apollo 11 Landing Site

Apollo 11 Landing Site

pollo 11 lunar module, Eagle.
Image width: 282 meters (about 925 ft.)
Apollo 15 Landing Site

Apollo 15 Landing Site

pollo 15 lunar module, Falcon.
Image width: 384 meters (about 1,260 ft.)
Apollo 16 Landing Site

Apollo 16 Landing Site

pollo 16 lunar module, Orion.
Image width: 256 meters (about 840 ft.) Because LRO's polar orbit initially ran almost along the terminator, in some of the images the ~10-foot high lunar modules have dramatic shadows. Particularly striking is the one the Apollo 16 LM casts on the far wall of the nearby crater.
Apollo 17 Landing Site

Apollo 17 Landing Site

pollo 17 lunar module, Challenger.
Image width: 359 meters (about 1,178 ft.)

LRO is currently in an elliptical orbit, so the pixel scales of the images vary somewhat from 1.0 to 1.4 meters (i.e., individual pixels in the images are between 1.0 and 1.4 meters across). By September, the orbit will be made circular and lowered to optimize surface mapping for investigation of potential landing sites for future human exploration of the Moon, at which point the already breathtaking resolution will improve by a factor of 2-3 (to a pixel scale of 0.5 meters).

The full images and much more information are available on the LROC website.

More information about the LRO mission can be found on the NASA and LRO websites.


Zibi Turtle Zibi Turtle is a research scientist in the Planetary Exploration group at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Lab. She is an associate of Cassini's imaging team and member of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera team. Her research interests include impact cratering and planetary geology, e.g., lake formation on Titan, crater formation and modification, and mountain building on volcanic Io. When not sitting in front of a computer, she enjoys racing with the Baltimore Rowing Club, taiko, and playing with her nieces.

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Elizabeth 'Zibi' Turtle
Elizabeth "Zibi" Turtle

Planetary scientist for Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab (APL)
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