Apollo 17, then and now

By Phil Plait | September 9, 2011 10:17 am

Last week, NASA released new, higher-res images of three Apollo landing sites taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. BABloggee Rick Sheppe had a cool idea: why not compare these to ones taken by the Apollo astronauts themselves? In fact, by grabbing a frame taken by a 16mm movie camera on board the Apollo 17 ascent module as they left the Moon, you can compare the views seen by astronauts and LRO directly!

So I did it. I took a frame from the 16mm camera on Apollo 17, and the LRO pic of the same area. After rotating and adjusting the contrast of the original Apollo 17 picture a wee bit, here is what I got:

Coooool. The original Apollo 17 picture is on top, and the LRO pic on bottom.

If you’re curious, NASA has labeled some of the features in the Apollo pic. In that original picture you can clearly see the bottom half of the lunar module on the surface (the bug-like landing module had two parts; a lower half (the descent stage) that stayed on the Moon to save weight, and an upper half (the ascent module) that is what carried the astronauts back to orbit, and is where the camera was that took this shot), as well as several craters, boulders, and the scuffed surface tracks from the astronauts’ boots and the rover as they ambled and rode across the Moon.

These features are all much more clear in the higher resolution LRO picture, which also had the advantage of better lighting. I labeled a bunch of the features in the image — click this pic inset here to enlunanate. Feature 1 is the lander itself, and most of the rest are craters (several are overlapping, which is nifty, and 10 is oddly shaped). Note Feature 11, which looks like a dark jagged streak. In the Apollo picture you can almost dismiss it as a scratch or some film flaw, but in the LRO shot it’s clearly real, and a place where the astronauts’ bootprints are particularly dark. I also like the bright rocks that look like pinpoints in the Apollo picture but show some size in the LRO view.

I also like how you can tell the difference between the tracks left by the astronauts in their suits and ones made by the lunar rover: the rover tracks are two parallel grooves made by the wheels on the left and right sides of the vehicle!

Again, as I did when I first saw these images a few days ago, I had a weird sense of being there, a feeling that was visceral instead of intellectual. Sure, I know we’ve been to the Moon, multiple times. But these pictures really — pardon the odd metaphor — bring it home. And when you think that what we’re seeing from LRO in its lonely orbit around the Moon is the same as what the astronauts saw by simply looking out their window… well.

It’s pretty amazing what we can do sometimes, isn’t it?

Image credits: NASA; NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/ASU. Tip o’ the ALSEP to Rick Sheppe.


Related posts:

LRO spots Apollo landing sites in high res
LRO spots Apollo 12 footsteps
One Giant Leap seen again
… and the flag was still there
Apollo 16 site snapped from orbit

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, NASA, Pretty pictures, Space
MORE ABOUT: Apollo 17, LRO

Comments (72)

  1. Cootiio

    Oooh, and looking at the craters and the lander, you can see that they are reflecting light from opposite sides, I guess meaning that the pictures were taken 13-15 days in the moon’s orbits apart.

  2. Obviously photoshopped! :D

    That is pretty darn cool! Great idea Rick!

  3. Ed

    Who I’d love to hear from is the Apollo crews whose footprints we’re seeing. It would be great to hear their thoughts on seeing their landing sites from up close again

  4. This post rocks Phil!!!

  5. Mark

    Where’s the rover? They parked it some distance away so the rover camera could capture the launch, and it had a fairly decent cross section, so it should be very visible. Further, there should be one set of rover tracks leading away from the LM and one set of boot tracks leading back. I can’t seem to find it..

    I also wonder what that distinct, dark mark is that Phil pointed out. That doesn’t look like boot tracks to me, it looks like a shadow.

  6. Messier Tidy Upper

    Wow! :-o 8)

    It’s pretty amazing what we can do sometimes, isn’t it?

    By Jove *YES* it sure is! 8)

    Thomas Stafford, Ronald Evans, Harrison Schmitt, Eugene Cernan, Ken Mattingly, John Young, Charlie Duke, Alfred Worden, James Irwin, David Scott, Stuart Roosa, Edgar Mitchell, Alan Shepherd, Fred Haise, John Swigert, Jim Lovell, Richard Gordon, , Alan Bean, Charles “Pete” Conrad, Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin & Neil Armstrong plus the thousands of others who made Apollo happen are all, once again, totally vindicated.

    Not that there was ever any real question about that.

  7. Brian

    It is amazing what we can do sometimes, I just wish we would do more of it.

  8. Arthur Maruyam

    @4 (Mark):

    If you draw a line from the descent stage to the bottom right corner and extend that line by about 5 times, that would be the approximate location of the rover (LRV).

    Here is a version of the recent LRO picture which includes the LRV:
    http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/584641main_apollo17-left-670.jpg

  9. jennyxyzzy

    @Mark #4
    The rover was parked off to the right of the frame of this photo.

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LRO/news/apollo-sites.html

  10. noen

    Those are obvious life signs and if you squint real hard you can see the crystal dome the moon creatures live in. It must be true because I saw it in a movie.

  11. Beau

    Well it’s good to see that NASA has the wherewithal to Photoshop the same track patterns to keep up the illusion that we actually went to the moon

    ;)

  12. Pete Jackson

    Fantastic post, Phil!

  13. Very cool–thank you for doing this. Are you going to send it to Joe Rogan (or would he turn it into more proof of a conspiracy?).

  14. Jess Tauber

    Amazing what you can do with graphics programs these days! Everybody knows that the Apollo Program was yet another Democrat money-wasting pro-sciencey conspiracy, with all that money going to pay for teachers and other useless spending like FEMA. Not hard at all to get thousands of party-vetted NASA employees to zip their lips when they got a cut of all that so they could go on long vacations in their new yachts. Its ok, though, cause when Rick Perry becomes President NASA will be defunded and all that largesse will be transferred to where it belongs: Missile Defense!

  15. Dr.Sid

    I like how there is opposite lighting on the images. What looks like pits on the old one, looks like bulges on the new one. And if you ‘switch your brain’ to see craters on the new one .. you get the bulges on the old one again.

  16. What’s really cool, in my opinion, is the advance in technology. The LRO pictures are way better than the ones we took in person. Imagine what we would learn by putting current technology into the hands of today’s astronauts, and sending them back to the Moon.

  17. Mark

    @8, @9,

    Thank you, I did have a sneaking suspicion that it was there, but I couldn’t tell for certain.

  18. So Phil… What does “frame grabe of footgae” mean in the flickr caption? :-)

  19. Too bad the Apollo 17 film wasn’t higher quality. I assume it’s just not clear enough to see it, but there are clearly two small craters between the larger ones under the “7” in the LRO image, and only one in the Apollo 17 image.

  20. Digital Atheist

    The shadows going in two different directions in the pictures is obviously caused by multiple lighting sources. ~looks at ceiling and whistles tunelessly~

  21. Michael Swanson

    That’s the coolest thing I’ve seen in a long time.

  22. Jon

    11 is likely the flag and its shadow, if anyone wasn’t sure.

  23. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    What does “frame grabe of footgae” mean in the flickr caption?

    It means look out for moonsters that will out-grabe your spiffy new footgae:

    “‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
    All mimsy were the borogoves,
    And the mome raths outgrabe.

    “Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
    The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
    Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
    The frumious Bandersnatch!””

  24. Great article Phil, about a great idea. I tried my best to find any differences but it seems pretty well locked in time. I couldn’t agree more that it is amazing what we can do!!! Maybe a few less bombs and a few more robot explores shot off in every direction. There is nothing I would like to see more than that giant ocean on Europa.

  25. Arthur Maruyama

    @ 11 (Jon):

    Actually the flag and possible shadow are just above the “1” in BA’s labelled comparison photos, at least according to the labels added to the recent LRO picture that I linked in my previous post (# 8).

    What 11 may be is unexplained (which, I guess I must add, does not mean it is unexplainable).

  26. I’ve been comparing the LRO images to the ground level shots the Astronauts took. This site:

    http://history.nasa.gov/alsj/frame.html

    The Apollo Lunar Surface Journal has the best collection of photographs taken on the Moon, probably anywhere. It included whole magazines of film, not just the more published ones.

    It gives you perspectives of seeing what the Astronauts saw, and comparing it to what they left behind.

    Compare this one to the LRO shot, for instance:

    http://history.nasa.gov/alsj/a17/AS17-140-21362.jpg

  27. rob

    Torbjörn Larsson beat me to it!

  28. Have to point it out when people lie like that. While there was a democrat majority in congress during those years there are two things you are concealing. First, the president was a Republican, and second the space programs biggest detractor was Senator Proxmire, a much admired Democrat. The space race was largely an anti communist thing and even you know that not many democrats have ever been anti communist. Yes, Kennedy was a notable exception.

  29. Tom

    VinceRN, may I point out a few things:

    First, throughout most of the Apollo program, we had both a Democratic majority in Congress AND the White House: Lyndon Baines Johnson

    Second, Richard Milhouse Nixon, of accursed memory, was glad to bask in the radiant glory of Apollo when he greeted the returning Apollo astronauts; but, at the same time he was gutting the Apollo program (He hated anything connected with JFK, and Nixon was a good hater!). It’s because of him that the Saturn V rockets that were to be used for the last 2 Apollo missions are now corroding in the salt air in Houston and Cape Kennedy (The most expensive lawn ornaments in history).

    And lastly, It’s a DEMOCRATIC majority in Congress, not DEMOCRAT majority. Democrat is a noun; Democratic is the adjective. Every one of your elementary school English teachers should rise from their graves and descend on you with steel rulers in their rotting fists!

  30. noen

    “the space programs biggest detractor was Senator Proxmire, a much admired Democrat.”

    Yes, well he was a populist and would likely be a tea bagger today. Many Southern Democrats were racists at that time until Pat Buchanan convinced the GOP to pursue the “Southern Strategy”. Which was to appeal directly to race and religion and convert that into electoral victory. That is why they have dominated the US for the last 30 years.

    “and even you know that not many democrats have ever been anti communist”

    This is slander. It’s simply false and ignorant to claim that Democrats are communist party sympathizers.

  31. The Naturalist

    Looking out of the window of the LM towards Geophone Rock in this image
    http://history.nasa.gov/alsj/a17/AS17-140-21355.jpg
    the feature on the ground can be easily matched against the LOR image
    http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/584392main_M168000580LR_ap17_area.jpg

    This is amazing. You can even see the two sets of paths the astronauts took to get to the ALSEP and the rover tracks that cross down south of Geophone rock.

  32. @ tom – Ah, yes, you are right, personal attacks are the strongest form of arguement. The fact remains, that Nixon signed the bills that paid for it. The fact remains (and unasailed by you) that few democrats have ever been anti-communist, and the fact remains, (unasailed by you again) that the strongest detractor of the space program was a man often hailed as one of the great Democrats. I know you don’t like it, but the space program was a bipartisan effort from the beginning.

    However, you broke out the ad hominem, so clearly you win the arguement. All that hate is gonna eat you up dude. It’s just not healthy to hate like that.

    @ noen – so basically every politician that you don’t like would have been a Republican? Also, does it somehow make you feel better to call people vulgar names? Doesn’t seem necessary. See above comment about hate.

  33. Alex Murdoch

    And starting the Moon hoaxers’ parade of Anomaly Hunting in 3…2…1…

  34. Joseph G

    IMForeman: Thanks for the link! These sound files and transcripts are amazing. Really gives you a feel for what it must have been like for those astronauts…

  35. Jamey

    A question – in the Apollo 17 footage, the base that remained behind is fairly obviously round – in fact, it clearly round. However, the current LRO image looks more like a pile of rubble. Meteor hit, maybe?

  36. Why do people care so much about Moon hoax believers? They have no power, they have no real effect on the world, they can not be changed by reason or science. No one in any policy making position has ever asked for, or even acknowledged the opinion of a hoaxer as far as I can tell. They aren’t even important enough to be considered marginal. My thought is leave them to themselves in their internet discussions and late night talk radio. Why care what they think or say? Most also believe the aliens told the Mayans the world would end next December and won’t change their opinion on that when it fails to happen. None of us can do anything to convince them.

  37. SLC

    Re Vince RN @ #28

    The space race was largely an anti communist thing and even you know that not many democrats have ever been anti communist. Yes, Kennedy was a notable exception.

    Actually, the greatest anti-Communist in History was Mr. Vince’s hero, Adolf Frankenberger, who, without a doubt, killed more Communists then all the rest of the world put together. Or to put it another way, it’s not enough to be anti-Communist, Herr Frankenberger was anti-Communist.

  38. @ Jamey — I don’t think there’s been any actual change to the descent stage; I think it’s just a matter of a higher-resolution picture, and with the light coming from a different direction. Also, in the first picture, I think the brightly-reflecting descent stage was a little overexposed, making it look like a round blob.

    Actually LM descent stages were octagonal. Here’s a diagram: http://www.fi.edu/pieces/schutte/moonpics/descentstage.gif

    And here’s a picture, from the LRV camera, showing the descent stage after the departure of Commander Cernan and Dr. Schmitt: https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/–MGQ93ObLsY/SuilgNSdotI/AAAAAAAAFQg/ckTBvhTb-Qs/s912/A17-LEM-Post-Departure-LTV-400×400.png

    Lonely scene, isn’t it?

  39. How cool to call people you disagree with Nazis. I admire your debate skill. You sir are a god of arguementation.

    All this for saying that it is wrong to claim that all Republicans are anti-science, or that the space program was a Democrats only thing.

    Did you know there have been six politicians that have been in space, four of them Republicans? Was it not a Democrat president that took us entirely out of the manned space flight business and made sure there was no way to get back in for at least a generation? Was it not a Republican who (despite his myriad other failures and missteps) tried to get space exploration back on track?

    Neither party is particularly god for America. Neither claims me as a member. I am pro science, pro space program, prou freedom, pro truth, and in favor of limited government control of people lives. I am a skeptic and an agnostic. I am far from anything to do with the tea party. You folks seem like all you care about is a far left ideology and don’t care about truth. You even seem to be willing to sacrafice science to that ideology, which seems odd here.

  40. noen

    Vincent the ranting RN spewed
    “The fact remains (and unasailed by you) that few democrats have ever been anti-communist”

    FALSE. All Democrats elected to public office have upheld their oaths of office. There are no Democrats who have ever been convicted of treason (which is what you claim).

    “the fact remains, (unasailed by you again) that the strongest detractor of the space program was a man often hailed as one of the great Democrats.”

    FALSE. The fact that one Democrat opposed a government program does not imply that all do.

    “so basically every politician that you don’t like would have been a Republican? Also, does it somehow make you feel better to call people vulgar names? “

    I never claimed that nor did I call anyone names. I simply stated the historical truth. Pat Buchanan was the originator of the GOP’s Southern Strategy which is well documented and consists of appealing to white southern racists and fundamentalists to garner support for GOP candidates. Calling Pat Buchanan a racist isn’t ad hom, it’s what he is.

    “You folks seem like all you care about is a far left ideology and don’t care about truth.”

    Dear god you’re boring. It’s just the same crap over and over and over. The least you could do is be a little creative. But I know better than to hope for that. I know, why don’t you tell us how oppressed you are and how you suffer under Obama’s iron boot? I’ll even help you out:

    The white male is the Jew of liberal fascism.

    It’s got everything you love all in one sentence, Jews, fascism, race and victim-hood.

    Blut und Boden!!!

  41. CR

    Could everyone just knock off the political BS for one freaking blog entry? PLEASE?! I don’t care WHO started it this time, I’m asking you ALL to finish it, take it to another blog, fire off emails to each other, whatever.
    Jeez, we’re here looking at photos of a place we haven’t seen in a few decades–a place a few men actually were at all those years ago, and people here are sniping at each other over politics? Yes, I know that politics is a part of US space exploration, but that’s not really what the arguing is about anymore, is it? Enough, already!

    (sighs, calms down a little…)

    Sorry, everyone, for the rant. Maybe I just took Phil’s post this time a little too much to heart… look what we humans can do if we actually work together toward some common goal.

  42. Such obvious photos would seem difficult to explain by the MOON Hoax, conspiracy-theorist crowd :)

  43. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ CR :

    Jeez, we’re here looking at photos of a place we haven’t seen in a few decades–a place a few men actually were at all those years ago, and people here are sniping at each other over politics? Yes, I know that politics is a part of US space exploration, but that’s not really what the arguing is about anymore, is it? Enough, already!

    Agreed.

    Except, that now I’m really curious about one thing :

    @39. VinceRN : “Did you know there have been six politicians that have been in space, four of them Republicans?”

    No I didn’t.

    I didn’t think the number was as high a six and can only recall two – there was one pre-Challenger whose name I forget (Jesse Helms or something like that maybe?) and there was John Glenn who was in congress and even once ran for president.

    Oh & are we counting Jack Swigert of Apollo 13 fame who ran for Congress, got elected but died before taking office of cancer? :-(

    Who are the other three?

    PS. Since we’re talking about it now anyway, my impression, right or wrong, as an observer from the other side of the planet, has always been that the Republicans are somewhat more pro-space exploration than the Democrats party.

    OTOH, the Republicans have also been more in favour of Creationism and have been adamant Climate Contrarians. The Democrats though tend to be more into New Age and alt-med nonsense or so I gather. FWIW, I don’t think either party has really delivered when it comes to supporting space travel and neither major US political party has a greatly consistent record of supporting science. As usual neither partisan side is perfect and both have very flawed records.

    @29. Tom :

    And lastly, It’s a DEMOCRATIC majority in Congress, not DEMOCRAT majority. Democrat is a noun; Democratic is the adjective. Every one of your elementary school English teachers should rise from their graves and descend on you with steel rulers in their rotting fists!

    But we’re not talking nouns or adjectives but party names and the proper name of the party is the Democrats party isn’t it? Or is it the Democratic party? I seem to hear both used by various people and aren’t sure which is the correct version.

  44. Messier Tidy Upper

    Yeah, I know, should do my own research. ;-)

    Let’s see – wikipedia says its the :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Party_(United_States)

    Democratic party but oddly enough also seems to use the ‘Democrat’ form noting that “Obama is the 15th Democrat” – and I’m sure I hear / read the “Democrat’ form more than the Democratic one so I’m still somewhat puzzled over the usage there. :-(

    Not that it really matters I guess.

    A quick wikicheck shows that Jack Swigert :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Swigert#Politics

    was one of the Republicans :

    … elected as a Republican to Colorado’s newly created 6th congressional district in November 1982. [Snip] .. He .. died of respiratory failure on 27 December, eight days before the beginning of his Congressional term.”

    John Glenn, OTOH, was a Democratic party Senator :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Glenn#Life_in_politics

    whose Presidential run came in 1984. Wonder how different history would be if Glenn had been President rather than Reagun? There’s an alternative universe SF story begging to be written! ;-)

    Glenn, of course, flew before and after his political career.
    Swigert’s only flight came before his political career.

    So that’s 50:50 to each party so far but only one astronaut apiece.

    I cannot seem to find any listing of US politicians in space but I do vaguely recall reading somewhere about another congressman who flew on an early Space Shuttle flight – can’t clearly recall the name or mission though except that it was pre-Challenger, think it got condemned as a bit of a stunt.

    That’s where I’m stumped for now. Anyone care to elaborate further and provide the list of US politician-astronauts and their parties?

  45. CR

    It’s Democratic Party, and a member therein would be referred to as a Democrat (plural would be Democrats).
    The Republican Party uses the same word as its party name to describe a single member: Republican (plural Republicans).
    Some people use the incorrect phrase Democrat Party, which I equate to as the same as saying Republic Party; neither are correct.

    Now, to head off calls of me being a hypocrite because I’m discussing politics after having just ranted against it, I should clarify my earlier post: I said “political BS,” which I also referred to as sniping among the posters here. Just reciting facts without hyperbole or ‘spin’ as I’ve done with the party name thing is not the same as launching into a ‘my side’s better than yours’ type of argument… it’s such arguing that I was getting frustrated over, not general political definitions or lists of who was in charge during the time of the Apollo missions.

    Also, please note that my deifinitions in this post are a direct answer to Messier Tidy Upper’s query; I am pointedly NOT picking sides, but am just supplying facts about the nomenclature.

    Having said all that, I STILL would rather talk about the LRO pics, so I apologize for continuing along this line… let’s all play nice and revel in the cool pics from space, shall we?

  46. @ ^ CR : Thanks for that. Appreciated. :-)

    I said “political BS,” which I also referred to as sniping among the posters here. Just reciting facts without hyperbole or ‘spin’ as I’ve done with the party name thing is not the same as launching into a ‘my side’s better than yours’ type of argument… [Snip] ..Having said all that, I STILL would rather talk about the LRO pics,

    Heartily agreed – no need to apologise methinks.

    However, I’m still curious to know who the 6 politician-astronauts are though if that can be answered.

    Found another item on wikipedia – click on my name – which adds one more name (USA~wise) which is Harrison “Jack” Schmitt’s for the Republicans who flew on Apollo 17 and, sadly, is also a prominent climate contrarian who had one term as a Republican Senator.

    So that takes us to to 3 namable politician astronauts – Schmitt, Glenn and Swigert and a fourth whose name I forget and cannot seem to find there or anywhere else. Plus apparently two more?

  47. Peter B

    MTU

    The pollie you’re thinking of may be Jake Garn (I had to look it up myself), a Republican.

    In looking that up I also found the name Bill Nelson, a Democrat who was on the last Shuttle mission before the Challenger accident.

    (Incidentally, I also found out about the Garn Scale of spacesickness, which is a bit of a chuckle.)

    I don’t know of any others.

  48. noen

    Ask the people of Norway if right-wing extremism is something you can ignore in the hopes it’ll just go away. The Tea Party isn’t a trad. GOP group, they are proto-fascists and are funded by the Koch bros., Pete Peterson and others who *explicitly* do not believe in democracy, want single part rule and view the military as the only proper function of government.

    If you think that scientists will fare well under a right-wing Tea Party dictatorship you’ve got another think coming. After teachers they are among the *first* to go because they represent a real threat. That is why VinceRN is here, because accurate information is a threat that must be eliminated.

    What, you didn’t notice that he accused everyone here of being treasonous communist sympathizers? What do you think his preferred “solution” to the threat you represent would be?

  49. cletus

    OK, back to the pix.

    The odd thing I can’t resolve between them is the dark diagonal line in the Apollo pic which rises from the bright rock above the tracks halfway between 7 & 8. In the Apollo pic it’s a little ambiguous … could be read as another stem of the foot tracks or, more likely, the eastern wall of a large crater.

    However in the LRO pic the dark line is absent altogether, and a slight depression appears in its place. The wall of that depression (it’s not as evident as a crater in the LRO pic as it is in the Apollo pic) appears to the east of a line drawn between the bright rock and the small crater to the northeast, whereas it’s clearly *on* that line in the Apollo pic.

    Has to be a trick of the lighting, but I find it strange that I can map every other feature between the two images perfectly except that one.

  50. Peter B

    Cletus @ #48

    Which bright rock do you mean? What do you mean by “between 7 & 8″? Seven and eight what?

  51. Messier Tidy Upper

    @47. Peter B : Thanks for that – much appreciated. :-)

    A wiki-check has confrmed that noting : ” .. Garn was a Republican senator from Utah. He was the first sitting member of Congress in space.”

    Garn flew on STS-51-D the 16th Space Shuttle flight and Discovery‘s 4th flight.

    Nelson a Democratic party member flew on STS-61-C (Columbia) which as you observed was the last flight before the Challenger‘s loss in 1986. Looks, from what I can tell like, he’s still serving in office too.

    So we have :

    1) John Glenn – Democratic party
    2) Jack Swigert – Republican
    3) Harrison Schmitt – Republican
    4) Jake Garn – Republican
    5) Bill Nelson – Democrat
    6) ??? ??? – ???

    3 Republican astronaut-politicians and 2 Democratic party ones.

    Who is the sixth one – anyone? VinceRN especially?

  52. Since someone asked.

    Sen. John Glen (D) – Ohio
    Jack Swigert (R) – Colorado – Elected but died before taking office.
    Sen. Harrison Schmitt (R) – New Mexico
    Sen. Jack Lousma (R) – Michigan
    Sen. Edwin Garn (R) – Utah
    Sen. Clarence Nelson (D) -Florida

    I don’t think any of these men would be considered particularly anti-science. Oddly Schmitt seems to be a bit of a global warming denier, or at least minimalizer, though he is very pro space exploration and other science. I suppose some would call him anti-science for that.

    Interestingly the Democrats seem to be the more religious of group, especially Sen. Glenn. So much for stereotypes.

  53. SLC

    Here’s the latest slap at human space exploration from Bob Park, who, like Steven Weinberg, doesn’t know what he’s talking about, at least according to some in these parts.

    5. THE WEBB TELESCOPE: LET’S NOT LOSE THE NEXT GENERATION.
    In July a House panel voted to stop building NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the far more powerful replacement for the Hubble. Webb fell victim to budget overruns. Yesterday a report commissioned by NASA says that with 59 on board the agency faces a dire shortage of astronauts. What do astronauts do these days? Well, they train on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to deliver supplies to the International Space Station, which we don’t own. And what do we get from the ISS? The garbage and human waste accumulated since the last delivery.

  54. Messier Tidy Upper

    @52. VinceRN : Thanks. :-)

    Jack Lousma, as a wiki-check shows now I know the name, was aboard Skylab & STS-3 Columbia – the third Space Shuttle mission & third skylab crew too – and became a Republican senator afterwards. Well, that’s something new I’ve learnt today. Cheers. :-)

    I don’t think any of these men would be considered particularly anti-science.

    Agreed – although as you’ve noted Schmitt is a climate contrarian rejecting the 97% of climatologists that accept HIRGO is real.

    Sadly, the same cannot be said about many of the present Republicans esp. their presidential candidates with the honourable exceptions being Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney. But that’s another story for another thread.

    BTW. In other news the GRAIL has been lifted. Both spaceprobes are off successfully after a smooth launch and are now en route to the Moon. :-)

  55. anon

    Perhaps because I was a kid at the time, and terrifically wowed by it all, I need to say that of all the cool stuff you’ve done here, this is among the top 10.

    Thank you

  56. Arthur Maruyama

    @ 50 Peter B:

    If you click on the smaller picture that BA provided, he has posted on his Flickr account a comparison picture with those numbers added.

    @ 49 cletus:

    My guess is that you have already explained that line: it is the shadow of the wall of a crater that is more defined in the Apollo picture due to the light coming from the lower right in that picture but is not easily seen due to the light coming from the lower left in the LRO picture. While not as extreme, you can see a similar crater “loss” by comparing the crater marked with 2 in the lower right corner.

  57. David V.

    It looks to me that there’s a new crater in the LRO picture that wasn’t visible in the Apollo picture. In the upper left of both pictures, there are two roughly equal sized craters with a smaller crater almost bisecting them. In the LRO picture, at about 5 o’clock on the leftmost crater in the cluster, there’s a crater that I don’t see in the Apollo picture, although it’s hard for me to be certain.

  58. Nigel Depledge

    Vince RN (32) said:

    @ tom – Ah, yes, you are right, personal attacks are the strongest form of arguement. The fact remains, that Nixon signed the bills that paid for it.

    Irrelevant. He was the president who gutted Apollo, and if he had been in office in ’61 or ’62, Apollo would never have been started.

    The fact remains (and unasailed by you) that few democrats have ever been anti-communist,

    Irrespective of who assails this claim, you have done nothing to support it. Until you do, I (and, I suspect, others) will reserve judgement about whether or not it is rightly a “fact”.

    However, your case is weak, considering the fact that any Democrat who openly expressed Communist sympathy would have received zero votes (or as good as) throughout the entirety of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. Although I have to concede that (AFAICT) Kennedy is the only one who threatened to launch the USA’s entire nuclear arsenal at the USSR (but then, did any Republican do this?).

    and the fact remains, (unasailed by you again) that the strongest detractor of the space program was a man often hailed as one of the great Democrats.

    Again, this is irrelevant. Proxmire was one senator. You may have fact on your side on this point, but you have not shown that it has any bearing on the case you are trying to make.

    I know you don’t like it, but the space program was a bipartisan effort from the beginning.

    It may well have been. But nonetheless, Nixon was against it.

    However, you broke out the ad hominem, so clearly you win the arguement. All that hate is gonna eat you up dude. It’s just not healthy to hate like that.

    Tom’s argument (29) is not an ad hominem, for two reasons.

    First, his comments about your poor English are purely factual (but I leave others to comment on whether they are excessively petty or otherwise). You seem to have interpreted this as a personal attack, but he is simply highlighting an error that you made.

    Second, even if Tom’s comment was a personal attack, it still isn’t an ad hominem. He has already addressed your arguments in his preceding paragraphs. His claim was not that your argument fails because of your poor grammar (which would have been an ad hom), but that your argument fails because it is a weak argument unsupported by pertinent facts.

    Either way, your reaction to his comment seems excessively aggressive. Why do you have such a problem with his disagreement?

  59. Nigel Depledge

    @ SLC (37) –
    Sorry, Godwin’s Law says you lose for that one.

  60. Nigel Depledge

    VinceRN (39) said:

    Was it not a Democrat president that took us entirely out of the manned space flight business and made sure there was no way to get back in for at least a generation?

    Nope. George W Bush was a Republican.

  61. Nigel Depledge

    Vince RN (39) said:

    Was it not a Republican who (despite his myriad other failures and missteps) tried to get space exploration back on track?

    Er … no.

    GWB’s “plan” to go to the moon and then Mars was never going to succeed without an immense boost to NASA’s funding. Perhaps he should have kept his plan to himself until he was suitably confident he could persuade Congress to give NASA the money they would need.

  62. Nigel Depledge

    Vince RN (39) said:

    You folks seem like all you care about is a far left ideology and don’t care about truth. You even seem to be willing to sacrafice science to that ideology, which seems odd here.

    Citations needed here. Seriously.

    Either put up, or shut up.

    The curious thing is, you may actually have a point. I have no idea what the voting record in Congress and Senate might be like with respect to manned space exploration, but you are really not making a good case.

  63. Nigel Depledge

    CR (41) said:

    Could everyone just knock off the political BS for one freaking blog entry? PLEASE?! I don’t care WHO started it this time, I’m asking you ALL to finish it, take it to another blog, fire off emails to each other, whatever.

    Oops.

    Posted my responses to Vince before getting to this comment.

  64. Nigel Depledge

    MTU (44) said:

    John Glenn, OTOH, was a Democratic party Senator :

    [url omitted]

    whose Presidential run came in 1984. Wonder how different history would be if Glenn had been President rather than Reagun? There’s an alternative universe SF story begging to be written!

    And sure to be full of win!

  65. Nigel Depledge

    Anyhow, back on topic –

    These pics are so cool!

  66. Doug

    I was thinking this should really whack the Moon Hoaxers upside the head. Then I remembered. The LRO pictures are from NASA. Obviously part of the Moon Hoax cover up, and the general Great NASA Conspiracy. Sigh.

  67. Peter B

    @ #56 Arthur Maruyama: Thank you.

    @ #49 Cletus: My apologies.

    @ #57 David V: That’s what these comments ^ are about!

  68. Infinite123Lifer

    Why have no nations gone to the moon since?

    If it was difficult enough from 1969-1972 to go to the moon than why has nobody gone back?

    We have the ISS currently. Why not build something on the moon? Why was it not built on the moon?

    God, I feel dumb asking this. (I believe the answer is it costs to much money and its not economically viable and we don’t know how to mine in space and its really just to difficult and not practical and we are not well enough “endowed” metrically to have a long lasting presence there without unlimited money unlimited manpower and unlimited resources.)

    And please don’t tell me there is nothing there to see?

    But they say there is no dumb question. So going with the quote that made me laugh the most:

    “So put up or shut up.”

    Please, if you have a comment on “why” no one has gone back.

  69. Nigel Depledge

    Infinite123Lifer (71) said:

    Why have no nations gone to the moon since?

    If it was difficult enough from 1969-1972 to go to the moon than why has nobody gone back?

    We have the ISS currently. Why not build something on the moon? Why was it not built on the moon?

    There are several aspects to this, I suspect.

    First, there is the reason that Apollo misions 18 – 20 were cancelled in the first place – cost. Well, not so much cost per se (because the bulk of the cost was in developing the Saturn V rocket and the Apollo LM, CM and SM), but conspicuous consumption. A bloody great big rocket like the Saturn V is a very conspicuous expense. Remember that Shuttle always promised to make access to “space” cheaper (and they had to brush the distinction between LEO and deep space under the carpet because Shuttle was not capable of sending anything higher than the orbit of Hubble). And, because the Apollo programme had been sold to the public by the media as a race to beat the Commies to the moon, once NASA had achieved its target, the public mostly lost interest.

    Second, there is the minimal prestige in being second. The USSR gave up their manned lunar programme around the time that the success of Apollo 11 was apparent (because their politicians were only interested in showing up the Americans). No other nation at the time had the combination of the wherewithal and the inclination to take part in a race for second place.

    Third, in the intervening time, any nation wishing to send people to the moon has had to do all of the launch vehicle development from scratch (and remember that the USA and the USSR were – kind-of – working on rocket programmes since the end of the Second World War).

    Fourth, there is the set of hazards inherent in sending humans into space.

    Fifth, there is the need to assemble or develop a group of people with the technical know-how to make it happen (not just the launch vehicle and systems needed to protect people in the harsh environment, but also the knowledge of orbital mechanics required to rendezvous and the ability to navigate reliably to the moon). It is only recently that any nations other than the USA or the USSR has even sent unmanned probes to the moon. It really is rocket science.

    Anyhow, that’s my guess.

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