Author Topic: New images of Apollo landing sites  (Read 23417 times)

Online Blackstar

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New images of Apollo landing sites
« on: 09/06/2011 04:20 PM »
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LRO/news/lro-briefing-20110906.html


NASA Spacecraft Images Offer Sharper Views of Apollo Landing Sites
09.06.11

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) captured the sharpest images ever taken from space of the Apollo 12, 14 and 17 landing sites. Images show the twists and turns of the paths made when the astronauts explored the lunar surface.

At the Apollo 17 site, the tracks laid down by the lunar rover are clearly visible, along with the last foot trails left on the moon. The images also show where the astronauts placed some of the scientific instruments that provided the first insight into the moon's environment and interior.

"We can retrace the astronauts' steps with greater clarity to see where they took lunar samples," said Noah Petro, a lunar geologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., who is a member of the LRO project science team.

All three images show distinct trails left in the moon's thin soil when the astronauts exited the lunar modules and explored on foot. In the Apollo 17 image, the foot trails, including the last path made on the moon by humans, are easily distinguished from the dual tracks left by the lunar rover, which remains parked east of the lander.

"The new low-altitude Narrow Angle Camera images sharpen our view of the moon's surface," said Arizona State University researcher Mark Robinson, principal investigator for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC). "A great example is the sharpness of the rover tracks at the Apollo 17 site. In previous images the rover tracks were visible, but now they are sharp parallel lines on the surface."

At each site, trails also run to the west of the landers, where the astronauts placed the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP) to monitor the moon's environment and interior.

This equipment was a key part of every Apollo mission. It provided the first insights into the moon's internal structure, measurements of the lunar surface pressure and the composition of its atmosphere. Apollo 11 carried a simpler version of the science package.

One of the details that shows up is a bright L-shape in the Apollo 12 image. It marks the locations of cables running from ALSEP's central station to two of its instruments. Although the cables are much too small for direct viewing, they show up because they reflect light very well.

The higher resolution of these images is possible because of adjustments made to LRO's orbit, which is slightly oval-shaped or elliptical. "Without changing the average altitude, we made the orbit more elliptical, so the lowest part of the orbit is on the sunlit side of the moon," said Goddard's John Keller, deputy LRO project scientist. "This put LRO in a perfect position to take these new pictures of the surface."

The maneuver lowered LRO from its usual altitude of approximately 31 miles (50 kilometers) to an altitude that dipped as low as nearly 13 miles (21 kilometers) as it passed over the moon's surface. The spacecraft has remained in this orbit for 28 days, long enough for the moon to completely rotate. This allows full coverage of the surface by LROC's Wide Angle Camera. The cycle ends today when the spacecraft will be returned to its 31-mile orbit.

"These images remind us of our fantastic Apollo history and beckon us to continue to move forward in exploration of our solar system," said Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

LRO was built and managed by Goddard. Initial research was funded by the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. In September 2010, after a one-year successful exploration mission, the mission turned its attention from exploration objectives to scientific research in NASA's Science Mission Directorate.
« Last Edit: 09/06/2011 04:24 PM by Blackstar »

Online Blackstar

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Re: New images of Apollo landing sites
« Reply #1 on: 09/06/2011 04:22 PM »

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: New images of Apollo landing sites
« Reply #2 on: 09/06/2011 05:35 PM »
Awesome pictures, I didn't realize the sound stage was that big ;)
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Offline Nascent Ascent

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Re: New images of Apollo landing sites
« Reply #3 on: 09/06/2011 11:35 PM »
I wonder why they parked the rover so far away?  ALSEP being so far away makes sense.

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Offline Rocket Science

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Re: New images of Apollo landing sites
« Reply #4 on: 09/06/2011 11:42 PM »
I wonder why they parked the rover so far away?  ALSEP being so far away makes sense.

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To  film the launch... :)

The Rover camera was telerobotically operated from Earth. They only had a one shot chance to get it right factoring the delay time... Pretty good I'd say;)

« Last Edit: 09/07/2011 12:11 AM by Rocket Science »
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Offline Herb Schaltegger

Re: New images of Apollo landing sites
« Reply #5 on: 09/06/2011 11:48 PM »
Amazing images.
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Offline ChileVerde

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Re: New images of Apollo landing sites
« Reply #6 on: 09/07/2011 12:04 AM »
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LRO/news/lro-briefing-20110906.html

This allows full coverage of the surface by LROC's Wide Angle Camera.


So there's sub-meter resolution imagery now available for some significant fraction of the lunar surface? Including the far side?

Where can we get it?!?!

P.S.: A quick calculation indicates that, at 11-bit radiometric depth, complete coverage of the surface at 1 meter resolution would need some 52 terabytes of storage. Reduce that to 25 cm resolution and you need 800 terabytes, compress it and get maybe 500 terabytes. Formidable but nothing today's hardware couldn't handle.
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Online Blackstar

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Re: New images of Apollo landing sites
« Reply #7 on: 09/07/2011 12:43 AM »
The problem is the data rate.

Online Blackstar

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Re: New images of Apollo landing sites
« Reply #8 on: 09/07/2011 12:45 AM »
One interesting aspect of this is that LRO ground resolution in cm is roughly equal to LRO altitude in km. So at 50 km the resolution was 50 cm, and at 22 km the resolution was 25 cm. At 100 km the resolution will be about 1 meter.

22 km was pushing the capabilities of the camera, however. They were encountering significant image smear. There was an explanation at the beginning of the press conference that the side to side resolution is about 25 cm, but the lengthwise resolution is about 50 cm, but produced in rectangular pixels that they then squash to become square with essentially 25 cm resolution. According to the explanation, your eye (and your brain) is filtering out the slight blurriness in this dimension.

Online Chris Bergin

Re: New images of Apollo landing sites
« Reply #9 on: 09/07/2011 01:25 AM »
Absolutely stunning. I don't like rehashing press releases, but I can beef this up (as much as this is amazing stuff on its own) with the protection of the hertigage sites which was recently presented at the Staff Senior meeting.

Then we head into the GRAIL launch.

Good week for Moon news :)

Offline SpacexULA

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Re: New images of Apollo landing sites
« Reply #10 on: 09/07/2011 02:08 AM »
fake :)
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Online Blackstar

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Re: New images of Apollo landing sites
« Reply #11 on: 09/07/2011 02:44 AM »
Then we head into the GRAIL launch.

Good week for Moon news :)

I think the two are connected--NASA released these images now in order to get people interested in the GRAIL launch in two days. They timed it well.

Offline majormajor42

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Re: New images of Apollo landing sites
« Reply #12 on: 09/07/2011 03:11 AM »
Absolutely stunning. I don't like rehashing press releases, but I can beef this up (as much as this is amazing stuff on its own) with the protection of the hertigage sites which was recently presented at the Staff Senior meeting.


looking forward to that discussion thread.
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Offline edkyle99

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Re: New images of Apollo landing sites
« Reply #13 on: 09/07/2011 03:49 AM »


Neat!  I wonder if they have higher resolution images of Shepard and Mitchell's footsteps missing the rim of Cone Crater.  Prior images showed them about 30 meters short, and to the right.

http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/news/index.php?/archives/91-Trail-of-Discovery-at-Fra-Mauro.html
http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/news/uploads/LROCiotw/M104634241LE_annotated.png

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Re: New images of Apollo landing sites
« Reply #14 on: 09/07/2011 04:31 AM »
Amazing images.  I had just turned 2 years old when that last liftoff from the Moon happened (Apollo 17).  I'd like to be able to say that I saw us return to the Moon but we'll see. 

Got to read that presentation about protecting heritage sites next.
I'll even excitedly look forward to "flags and footprints" and suborbital missions. Just fly...somewhere.

Online Chris Bergin

Re: New images of Apollo landing sites
« Reply #15 on: 09/07/2011 04:57 AM »
Absolutely stunning. I don't like rehashing press releases, but I can beef this up (as much as this is amazing stuff on its own) with the protection of the hertigage sites which was recently presented at the Staff Senior meeting.


looking forward to that discussion thread.

Done :)

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2011/09/protecting-apollo-sites-future-visiting-vehicles-nasa-evaluation/

And the specific thread for this:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=26712.0

Offline aquanaut99

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Re: New images of Apollo landing sites
« Reply #16 on: 09/07/2011 05:35 AM »
fake :)

Yep. Already waiting on all the moon hoaxer's howling and wailing....

Back on topic: fantastic images!

Offline Paul Howard

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Re: New images of Apollo landing sites
« Reply #17 on: 09/07/2011 05:53 AM »
Where's Bart Sibrel? Hiding from Buzz, probably :D

Offline simonbp

Re: New images of Apollo landing sites
« Reply #18 on: 09/07/2011 08:06 PM »
Neat!  I wonder if they have higher resolution images of Shepard and Mitchell's footsteps missing the rim of Cone Crater.  Prior images showed them about 30 meters short, and to the right.

Oh, you can bet they will. I took a lunar exploration class from the LROC PI about a year before launch, and he made it quite clear that he was going to set the record straight on the EVA paths, especially 14 (old man Shepard got lost) and Armstrong's unplanned jaunt on 11 (he never told anyone just how far he went away from the LM).

And there is a good science justification to all this. Several of the Apollo sites were chosen for their diverse geology, and so knowing precisely where each sample came from is key to tracing them back to the grand scheme of things...
« Last Edit: 09/07/2011 08:07 PM by simonbp »

Offline notsorandom

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Re: New images of Apollo landing sites
« Reply #19 on: 09/07/2011 08:39 PM »
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LRO/news/lro-briefing-20110906.html

This allows full coverage of the surface by LROC's Wide Angle Camera.


So there's sub-meter resolution imagery now available for some significant fraction of the lunar surface? Including the far side?

Where can we get it?!?!

P.S.: A quick calculation indicates that, at 11-bit radiometric depth, complete coverage of the surface at 1 meter resolution would need some 52 terabytes of storage. Reduce that to 25 cm resolution and you need 800 terabytes, compress it and get maybe 500 terabytes. Formidable but nothing today's hardware couldn't handle.

Pretty much all this sort of data eventually gets put on the Planetary Data System. Its an amazing resource. http://pds.nasa.gov/index.shtml

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