I believe this is the second time I've posted images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), a probe that's been circling the Moon for months shooting images of incredible quality, resolving objects down to a couple feet in size. The last LRO photos I posted were of the Apollo 11 and 14 landing sites, showing the lunar lander descent stages and some of the footpaths the astronauts left as they scuffed about the powdery surface. This one's even better:
The flag! You can see the flag!
To help you get your bearings, here's what we're looking at. The big white object in the photo above is the bottom half of the Apollo 17 lander in the photo below--basically the legs and gold base. The astronauts blasted off in the top half. The dark traces are footpaths or pairs of wheel tracks left by the Lunar Rover (the dune buggy in the photo below). Other new photos available at the LROC website pinpoint where the astronauts set out scientific instruments and parked the Rover, which is just off the right edge of the photo above. The image width is 102 meters, about the length of a football field plus an end zone. It's fun to compare the LRO pictures to those taken by the Apollo 17 astronauts at the time (again, see LROC).
It's amazing what an elaborate hoax you can create when you've got 40 years to work on it. Of course, I'm part of the "Man really landed on the Moon nudge nudge wink wink" conspiracy, too. My role is to pose as a private citizen and make fun of people who believe in the conspiracy; writing graphic novels is just my cover story. In fact, WHTTWOT was actually written by a team of NASA bureaucrats working in a warehouse in Huntsville, Alabama.
I probably shouldn't have said that.
EDITED TO ADD: I just found this video of the Apollo 17 astronauts blasting off from the Moon, leaving behind the descent stage. This is the very last time anyone saw it before LRO photographed it. The obvious question: Who took the video? It was transmitted to Earth by a camera mounted on the Lunar Rover. So how did it tilt up to follow the spacecraft? I think (maybe Jim or someone else can confirm or correct me) it was controlled from Earth, with the second-and-a-half communications delay taken into account. Either that, or a Teamster working on a soundstage in Area 51 did it.