It was just over 43 years ago that the Apollo 11 mission landed on the surface of the Moon and, ever since then, there have always been conspiracy theorists declaring that we never went to the Moon and the whole Apollo Moon missions were elaborate hoaxes. Now, nearly 40 years after the Apollo program ceased, NASA has released even more undeniable proof that we did go to the Moon.
In 2009, NASA launched its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission to help pave the way for man’s return to the Moon with the goal of spotting potential landing sites. Unfortunately, President Obama killed the Constellation Program, and with it, future manned Moon missions. However, the satellite continued to function, snapping pictures as it went.
In an article posted on space.com, NASA has now revealed that most of the flags from the Apollo missions are, indeed, still standing, with the one exception being that of Apollo 11. Interestingly, Buzz Aldrin always said that he thought that the lander’s exhaust burst blew over the flag as he and Neil Armstrong left the lunar surface.
Photographed from 15 miles above the lunar surface, the sites of man’s first steps on another world come out in surprising detail. The bottom of the lunar landers are visible, as is equipment left behind by the astronauts, and, most surprisingly, the astronauts’ footprints themselves, seen as dark trails of gray against the lighter, undisturbed lunar surface.
The conspiracy theorists need to find another line of work.
In addition to the Apollo landing sites, there are other interesting lunar sights caught on camera, too. One surprising find was the long presumed lost Lunokhod 1 rover, launched by the Russians during the time Americans were setting foot on the Moon. During the year in which it operated, Lunokhod 1 drove about 6 miles on the Moon’s surface. Once the signal went dead in September 1971, the rover was presumed lost, most likely turned over or lost in a crater. That all changed when the rover was found upright on the lunar surface, where it continues to contribute to science.
Most of the other images are regarding interesting facets of lunar geology, including, but not limited to “skylights” and the “dark side of the Moon.” While purely natural in nature, they are nonetheless interesting.
One last thing, don’t go looking for the Apollo landing sites or Lunokhod with a telescope. There is no telescope on Earth (or in space) powerful enough to view such tiny objects.
For more info:
NASA: Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter main page
10 cool sights on the Moon
Examining Apollo conspiracy theories
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