Thursday, August 2, 2012

Apollo 15 departs Hadley Rille Delta - 41 years ago

August 3, 1971 - 1:11 pm (EDT-US): Hadley Delta, Palus Putridanis, Earth's Moon. Lift off of Apollo 15 lunar module ascent stage, with Dave Scott and Jim Irwin on-board, as captured by remote-operated live color television camera on Apollo's first lunar rover.

From automated DAC camera - on-board lunar module Falcon: From ascent stage ignition through pitch-forward and an excellent - though brief - view of the descent stage/launch pad left behind and below. This footage shows the range track west, over Hadley Delta and Hadley Rille, through a slight roll maneuver allowing a longer view of Hadley Rille north of the landing site and points west over the Palus Putridanis formation on the southeastern frontier of Mare Imbrium.

 [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].
The animation above views the Apollo 15 landing site through shifting shadows of a lunar day, courtesy of the LROC Featured Sites index which premiered ;ast month. After the dust settled, almost immediately following the departure of Scott and Irwin expedition 41 years ago, the Sun has passed overhead 548 times, and very little appears to have changed.

A Lasting Legacy: Short of a large erasing impact or interference by future visitors, the relentless bombardment of micro-meteorites will eventually "garden" the top three centimeters or so of regolith, finally erasing all traces of the rover tracks and footprints in about 2 million years. After that, it's anyone's guess how long it might take to pummel away the artifacts of Apollo 15.

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