Saturday, September 3, 2011

Low altitude views of Apollo released

The lunar module descent stage of the Apollo 17 expedition, December 1972. The foot paths and lunar rover tracks, along with surface experiments deployed, by Gene Cernan and Jack Schmidt are easy to see in this LRO Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) view from 22 kilometers, one of three Apollo landing sites viewed at 25 cm per pixel "cross track" resolution in August 2011 [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland -- NASA has released exceptionally detailed images of three of six Apollo landing sites recently surveyed from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) during a month-long very low lunar orbit opportunity in August.

On August 10 project managers ordered LRO to fire reaction thrusters to lower it's orbital perilune, enabling Narrow Angle Cameras (LROC NAC) to sweep up extreme close-up views of three Apollo landing sites, allowing detailed examination of Apollo era artifacts and astronaut foot trails.

Originally launched in tandem with the LCROSS impactor on, June 18, 2009, LRO has orbited the Moon for two years, longer than any previous lunar probe.Shortly after midnight (UT), September 1, LRO completed its 10,109th lunar orbit.

The LRO project has experienced a few recent set backs. In May an anomaly shut down the Mini-RF instrument  and on August 23 NASA reported one of four fine-guidance reaction wheels failed, though spacecraft stability can still be easily maintained

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