This is so so so freaking cool: the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has taken pictures of the Apollo landing sites!
|LM diagram from Wikipedia|
That’s EXACTLY how I pictured it would look. That picture shows the lower half of the Lunar Module, the part that stayed behind on the Moon when Armstrong and Aldrin blasted back up off the surface. It was essentially dead weight, so the LM was designed to split in half, with the top half (the aptly-named Ascent Module — click on the diagram on the right for details) going back up into orbit to meet with Michael Collins in the Command Module. From there they returned to Earth.
The Descent Module is about 4 meters or so across, and the image, above taken when the Sun was low on the horizon, clearly shows the DM and its shadow cast across the lunar surface. The region where they landed was fairly smooth, so the module is the only thing large enough in the image to cast an appreciable shadow.
Wow. Look at that! Physical, tangible evidence that human beings walked on the surface of the Moon. And not just that: we did it again and again. Behold!
That’s the Apollo 14 landing site, and you can see where the lunar surface was disturbed by the astronauts bootprints! Some of that may also be tracks from a wheelbarrow-like device called the Modularized Equipment Transporter which Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell used to help them carry equipment and samples to and from the lander.
Oh man oh man oh man! And mind you, these pictures are not even the highest resolution LRO can provide; future observation will have twice this much detail!
I love this. Not because I needed proof we went, of course. But there is just something about seeing new pictures after all these years. Apollo may seem like ancient history, but those artifacts on the Moon are still sitting there, in many ways as fresh as the day they were placed there.
In all of human history, there are many dividing lines we can arbitrarily assign. Before and after the use of atomic weapons, before and after the invention of the light bulb, before and after this war or that.
But there is one dividing line that can inspire us, fill us with wonder, make us dream of bigger goals, higher aspirations, better ways to live our lives for the future. And that is the dividing line between the time we were a race shackled to the ground, confined to a single planet… and the time a human being stepped foot on another world.
And there it is, in pictures and in fact. This is what these pictures mean. We humans spend a lot of time looking around, looking out, looking down. But sometimes, for just a brief moment, we look up. We did it once before, and it’s time to do it again.
Links to this Post
- New pics of moon landing sites. « Yuo is teh suck. | July 17, 2009
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- Conspiracy theorists speak up: Are the moon landings a hoax? - Christian Forums | July 17, 2009
- Apollo Landing Sites Photographed on the Moon! « The Skeptical Teacher | July 17, 2009
- Who Hung the Moon? » Blog Archive » And in other news, the sky is blue … | July 17, 2009
- New Photos Of Lunar Landing Sites « DUMMR.com | July 17, 2009
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- SpaceMika » Blog Archive » LRO images the Moon Landing Sites | July 17, 2009
- First images of Apollo 11 landing site « | July 17, 2009
- [link] Apollo moon landing site gets photographed by LRO - Discover Magazine - Yilkes | July 17, 2009
- Science Blogs » Blog Archive » Apollo landing sites: 40 years later! [Starts With A Bang] | July 17, 2009
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- Moon Landing Sites imaged by Lunar orbiter... - TeakDoor.com - The Thailand Forum | July 17, 2009
- Brad Heap » Blog » I haz evidence | July 18, 2009
- Neue Bilder vom Mond | July 18, 2009
- Sin tiempo para nada… excepto para el Apolo « Curiosidad Científica | July 18, 2009
- Scents of deScent stage « KOSMOGRAD | July 18, 2009
- “Apollo Landing Sites Imaged by Lro!” and related posts - KuASha Organization | July 18, 2009
- Bob Mottram (motters) 's status on Saturday, 18-Jul-09 19:32:21 UTC - Identi.ca | July 18, 2009
- A LRO fotografou o local de pouso da Apollo 14 e mostra o módulo lunar « Eternos Aprendizes | July 18, 2009
- The Drinking Bird | July 18, 2009
- Adam R Sweet (celticagent) 's status on Sunday, 19-Jul-09 01:37:27 UTC - Identi.ca | July 18, 2009
- Mostradas imagenes de los sitios de alunizaje de las misiones Apolo « Hazael’s Weblog | July 18, 2009
- Moon Hoax Conspiracy Meets Facts, Fists « SCIENCE-BASED PARENTING | July 18, 2009
- Fotografie miejsc lądowań misji Apollo @ techblog | July 19, 2009
- TechyDad » Blog Archive » Bang! Zoom! To the Moon! | July 19, 2009
- Revelan fotografías de la presencia humana en la Luna - Ojo Cientifico | July 21, 2009
- Abstruse Goose on science coolness | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine | July 22, 2009
- Hanging a moon at astrology | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine | July 31, 2009
- 60 German scientist say global warming is a scam - Page 3 | August 4, 2009
- Craig The Rocket Scientist vs The Conspiracy Theorists | K Exchange | October 27, 2009
- LRO images the Moon Landing Sites | GeoMika | April 20, 2011
- lunar landing pictures | June 5, 2011
- NASA...MOON LANDING...REAL or FAKE.... - Page 5 | July 18, 2011
- Neat. | Miscellaneous Heathen | December 12, 2011
- Craig The Rocket Scientist vs The Conspiracy Theorists | Knovel Blog | April 5, 2012