Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tranquility Base at high-resolution before Apollo 11

On Monday, August 1 the Lunar Orbiter Image Restoration Project (LOIRP) released another 'newly retrieved' medium resolution frame 2085 M, originally photographed by Lunar Orbiter II on November 20, 1966, from its vantage point 51.4 kilometers over the southwest Mare Tranquillitatis (0.8°N, 23.7°E).
The Lunar Orbiter Image Restoration Project (LOIRP) has released an image from 1966, showing 'Tranquility Base' before the arrival of Apollo 11, newly-retrieved from once-discarded Lunar Orbiter telemetry tapes using restored and equipment built from scratch to read them.

It was early mid-morning on the Sea of Tranquility and the eventual landing site of Apollo 11 (small blue arrow in the thumbnail image, above) only 32 months later, when Lunar Orbiter II photographed the historic location. 

A very large version of the image, newly retrieved from the original taped telemetry returned from the JPL orbiter, at a digital resolution of 16500 x 18564 pixels (598.3 Mb) is housed at the NASA Lunar Science Institute, HERE. Original reproductions of second-generation photographs, along with image references, are available at the Lunar and Planetary Science Institute, HERE.

A large 1650 x 1856 version is available from the website, HERE. Detailed full-resolution views of the landing site of Apollo 11 before and after July 20, 1969 are visible in the images below.

A rough outline of the field of view captured by Lunar Orbiter II traced out on the global LROC Narrow and Wide Angle Camera mosaic on the LROC QuickMap web-application, at a resolution of 64 meters. The Apollo 11 landing site is indicated by the red cross [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].
The Apollo 11 descent stage (blue arrow) is clearly visible when the LROC QuickMap is reset to 2 meters resolution, a close match to the full resolution close-up on the same area photographed by Lunar Orbiter II a year and eight months before the landing, below
A quick examination of the 16500 x 18564, 600 Mb full resolution version of LO-II-085 shows the landing site and many details of the vicinity familiar to those acquainted with mission details, before the arrival of Apollo 11. Excellent detail for this media, even without teasing out more detail using present-day software [NASA/JPL/LOIRP/NLSI].

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