NASA has released new photos on the moon showing where the Apollo astronauts landed and the trash they left behind from 1969 to 1972 during the lunar missions.
The images were taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter that shows the sharpest photos ever taken that unveil the paths left by the astronauts and the moon buggy they used.
Experts could even identify the backpacks astronauts pitched out of their lunar landers before they returned to Earth.
“What we’re seeing is a trail,” said Arizona State University geology Professor Mark Robinson, the orbiter’s chief scientist. “It’s totally awesome.” However, the photos were not close enough to see individual boot prints, Robinson said.
The pictures were taken two weeks ago and show the landing sites for Apollo 12, 14 and 17. The closest images are of the 1972 Apollo 17 landing site, the last moon mission.
Apollo 17 Commander Eugene Cernan said that the photo gives him a chance to revisit those days, “this time with a little nostalgia and disappointment. Nostalgia because those special days are fondly etched in my memory and disappointment because it looks like now we will not be going back within the days I have left on this planet.”
Two years ago, images from the same spacecraft from 30 and 60 miles out showed fuzzier images. However, this year the orbiter dipped down to take about 300,000 more close-ups. The moon trails left by the astronauts are clear, but the places where backpacks were discarded, Apollo 17’s moon buggy, and the bottom parts of the three lunar landers are blurry.
Robinson said that if you look at the photos long enough, you can figure out what you’re looking at. For example, when it comes to the moon buggy he said, “if you squint really hard you can resolve the wheels and that the wheels are slightly turned to the left.”