Thursday, July 17, 2008

Apollo Sites Imaged By Kaguya

JAXA has released some images captured by the high resolution Terrain Camera (TC) on the Moon-orbiting Kaguya/Selene spacecraft. You can find them in the Kaguya Image Gallery. The most recent (July 14) shows the Apollo 17 Taurus-Littrow landing area. They got Dr. Harrison Schmitt to look at some of the pre-release images and comment on them. He was able to identify some of the geological sites and features that he and Gene Cernan investigated in December 1972.

Japanese engineers have reported seeing a lighter color "halo" area that is believed to have been caused by the Apollo LM's descent rocket engine (observed at both Apollo 15 and Apollo 17 sites). At about 10 meters per pixel, this camera is good, but it is still not at the level of MRO which has returned pretty clear images of Phoenix and the Rovers on the surface of Mars. The upcoming LRO (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter) mission will have enough resolution to see the Lunar Module descent stages and other hardware left behind on the Apollo missions. This (September 2008?!) article from Air & Space Magazine says that LRO will be able to image objects on the surface "the size of a microwave oven." That should just about do it, though I don't expect Moon landing hoax conspiracy nuts to be satisfied, seeing as LRO is a NASA mission too.

(Don't you get it? They're ALL in on the hoax, even 36 years later! It's part of the training when you go into the space business. You have to learn how to keep all those secrets.)

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