Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Earth Below Us, Drifting, Falling

A lot of folks are posting new photos from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) that show the landing sites of Apollos 12, 14 and 17. I mentioned them myself on my WHTTWOT Facebook Fan Page (and the NASA link I provide there is certainly worth a look; I particularly like the slider feature that lets you compare old and new photos of the same sites). But Friend O' The Blog Mike "Sligo" Harkins was the first to send me this video that offers a neat tour of the Apollo 17 site.

The LRO, which has been circling and mapping the Moon since 2009, already photographed all of the Apollo landing sites a while ago.
I blogged about it. What's new is that the LRO recently dropped into a lower orbit that allows much sharper pictures showing a lot more detail. It is completely astounding to me that, nearly 40 years after the last human (so far!) walked on the Moon, we've got a satellite up there taking pictures of their footprints.

Nine of the 12 men who walked on the Moon are still alive. I think it would be fascinating if someone sat them down with these photos and interviewed them. Of course they've all been interviewed to death; the difference now is that we could literally trace every step they took: Why'd you stop here? What were you looking for there? Why that route? Why this detour? I'd expect it to dredge up details they haven't thought about since, providing a nice commentary on history by the men who made it.

The Moon Hoaxers--purveyors of the amazingly widespread belief that the U.S. faked the whole thing--have been pretty low-profile lately. Of course the LRO photos would be no problem for them to explain away. After all, they're from NASA. But technology is implacably demolishing the Hoaxers' case. In the short run, those sad, stupid people can make some harmful mischief; in the long run, they're irrelevant. The Truth is Out There, and will be for millions of years after they're gone.


Sherwood Harrington said...

If this was legit, then why did they disable comments on it. Huh? HUH? And that lack of sound is very suspicious, mister.

More seriously, this is wonderful. Thanks for posting it. And your idea about discussing these images with those who made the footprints and the possible memory triggers that could jog is a very good one.

Jim O'Kane said...

The LRO's periapsis (love that word) was lowered to just 50,000 ft. on the sunny side of the Moon, so all these close-ups are from the same height as the Apollo X LM's closest approach to the surface.

It reminded me of Gene Cernan's exclamation to CapCom Charles Duke as he pitched the LM over for his first look at the proposed Apollo XI landing site, on the southwest edge of the Sea of Tranquility:

"I'm telling you, we are LOW. We're close, baby. We is down among 'em, Charlie!"

Sherwood Harrington said...

My favorite Cernan quote from Apollo X was from one of his last status updates, when he reported that all three of them were "happy, healthy, hungry, and horny," and CapCom dryly replied that they had fixes only for the first three.

Namowal said...

You could put a moon-conspiracy nut in a rocket and send him to the moon (and back,) and he'd tell everyone "They can't fool me. I could tell it was a movie set in Burbank!"

Sherwood Harrington said...

I have it on good authority that Burbank does not actually exist.

Brian Fies said...

Burbank: magnificent desolation.

Namowal said...

Well, Burbank and the moon do share some qualities. Both are hard to get to, slow to drive through, and it's tricky to find a good place to park.
Drop a traffic jam, some cypress trees, and and IKEA on the moon and you'll have Burbank. ;)