New Moon Photos Show Remnants Of Apollo Landings

New photos from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter have given us the sharpest images yet of the physical remnants of man’s missions to the moon:

A spacecraft circling the moon has snapped the sharpest photos ever of the tracks and trash left behind by Apollo astronauts in their visits from 1969 to 1972.

Images taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter from 13 to 15 miles up show the astronauts’ paths when they walked on the moon, as well as ruts left by a moon buggy. 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 bootprints, 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 site, the last moon mission.

The full collection of images can be found here.

Photo of Apollo 14 Landing Site, labeled version of photo available here.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Vast Variety says:

    Well I guess that debunks the Hollywood myth.

    Unless of course someone at NASA has learned how to use photoshop.

  2. Sam says:

    A year or so ago I remember reading a story or two about why there have been no photos of the landing areas on the moon seeing as how we have Hubble and the other fine cameras in orbit and in space. the stories both mentioned that maybe the people denying we actually landed on the moon were right and thus no photos!

    These are the neatest pictures I have seen form our space program in quite some time!

    Amazing to see the tracks of the lunar rover.

  3. @Sam:

    A year or so ago I remember reading a story or two about why there have been no photos of the landing areas on the moon seeing as how we have Hubble

    Given that the Hubble was designed to image things billions of light years away, it probably can’t focus on something as close as the moon.

    It’d be like asking you to look at the end of your nose.

  4. Andy says:

    This doesn’t disprove the FACT that the moon landings were faked. After all, these images came from NASA – you don’t expect them to release images showing their greatest deception, do you? Of course not, they obviously photoshopped these images to buttress the lie that we went to the moon.

    PS: Everything I just wrote should not be taken seriously.

  5. John Peabody says:

    Yeah, who really believes in real-time sattelites or any of that stuff? Oh, wait, I gotta go…there’s rugby match from New Zealand coming up on ESPN 8…

  6. Boyd says:

    Just more proof of how careless and thoughtless Americans are. Just toss your backpacks out the window, don’t worry about the impact your actions have on the environment.

    I think we should send someone up there to clean up the mess we left behind, and do right by the Man in the Moon.

    I have a few candidates in mind. Ahem.

  7. anjin-san says:

    More proof that the government has never accomplished anything.