NASA's Lunar Orbiter Photographs Apollo Landing Sites
By James Grahame
NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter was launched in June. Its primary mission: to create a high resolution map of the lunar surface from a distance of approximately 50 km.
In honor of the 40th anniversary of the first manned lunar landing, investigators at Goddard Space Flight Center have released the first images of Apollo lunar landing sites captured by the orbiter. NASA is quick to point out that these images were captured before the LRO reached its final mapping orbit; future images from these sites will have two to three times greater resolution.
The timing couldn't be better. According to survey results published recently in the Telegraph, a quarter of Britons believe the Apollo 11 mission moon landings in 1969 were an elaborate hoax, and almost half thought the Apollo missions were a waste of money. I doubt these new images will do anything to discourage the conspiracy theorists -- nothing will ever provide sufficient "proof" for the tinfoil hat brigade.
However, perhaps NASA's renewed focus on lunar exploration will encourage a new generation of young researchers and push all of us to look beyond the inconsequential blue marble we call home. And if that fails, I'm sure there's gobs of money to be made strip-mining it.