Two things should be clear here. Firstly, the 1978 map shows a high degree of correspondence with the LRO, from the smallest crater to the lines of footprints. There are only two possible sources of information for the location of these craters, boulders, and human artefacts. Firstly, the Lunar Orbiter images, which as we know from what has been shown above are not adequate for the purpose, and Apollo photographs taken by people.
Of the Apollo sources we first have to discount the use of the Apollo images that did not land before Apollo 11.
The reader is referred to this section of this website which contains Google Moon kmz files showing the location of Apollo photographs taken in lunar orbit.
Apollo 8 did not fly over Tranquillity Base, but during Apollo 10, the following images were taken of the landing site looking vertically down:
Of the images listed above, the best is AS0-
It is of comparable quality to the orbiter image, but it is still woefully lacking in detail compared with the LRO photograph and the 1978 map.
There are no other possible sources for the 1978 map apart from Apollo 11 images -
The only other possible source for the photogrammetric map are the Apollo 11 images taken from the surface, so let’s have a look at what a couple of them show.
The first one shows the view taken by the 16mm camera positioned in the lunar module window on the way to landing shortly before ‘contact light’.
This image is not from a digital source, but is a scan of an image published in Life magazine in August 1969 (see here). This is important because there can be no accusations of it being digitally manipulated or altered after the fact. It is an original published 40+years before the LRO image. The landing sequence itself is available in many places, and here is one youtube example.
The photograph us shown with a correctly oriented LRO crop. The lunar module has been left in for reference, but the actual extent of the 16mm still does not quite reach that far.
I’m hoping that it even the most myopic of morons will be able to see that the photographs are showing exactly the same place, down to the smallest rock and crater. Everything is in the right place. I’ve even added some pretty arrows to help.
The only thing missing from the 16mm still is the trail from the lunar module to Little West crater, which would run almost parallel with the window frame.
Can we continue this further into the descent? Yes we can. The image below is from just a few seconds further on, and the LM as begun to pass closer to and over the crater in the foreground of the image above.
The photomontage is looking north-
To the left of the camera itself but not quite level with it is a small crater that is visible just north of the end of the disturbed soil zone on the LRO photograph. To the right of the camera and again not quite level with it is a larger crater visible in both the Apollo image and the LRO. Continuing towards the right of the Apollo image just above and to the right of the thruster s a larger crater, on the edge of which is much smaller one (just above the crater), and again there is a corresponding pair of craters in the LRO.
In the top right corner of the LRO image is a larger crater with a smaller on the lop, and this can be seen in the distance above the thruster in the Apollo photograph. Level with that in the centre is another matching crater, and so on and so on.
All around the Apollo photograph shown above are craters that are also to be found in the LRO view of the same scene, craters that are not to be found in the orbiter view.
Looking through the adjacent window we have a view of another piece of Apollo hardware, the laser ranging retro-
The LRRR equipment (red arrow) can be seen just to the right of the sunlit thruster in the Apollo image, and just below centre in the LRO view. It is installed near the edge of a 3 shallow overlapping craters, the largest of which is not quite covered in the panorama above, and the centre of which is identified by the magenta arrow. The disturbed ground around the LRRR (which, you will notice, is correctly oriented in the LRO view) is visible in both shots. The shallow craters can be made out in the Lunar Orbiter and Apollo 10 images -
At the edge of the LRO version, in a direct line between the LRRR and the lunar module, is another set of shallow craters that can also be seen in the Apollo photograph (above the sunlit thruster). This group consists of a pair of larger shallow craters (yellow and green arrows), with a smaller, deeper crater between them and a deeper crater (blue arrow) just off them in a line towards the LRRR. If the Apollo image is zoomed in closely, these same craters can be seen in the correct place. The larger shallow craters can just made out in the Lunar Orbiter image, but not the Apollo 10 photograph.
As with the first window view, the more the photographs are examined, the more details can be found that are in both Apollo and LRO viewpoints, but not in the earlier views of the landing site.
So, what about elsewhere on the landing site? During their brief stop they went over to Little West crater, and while they were there they took several photographs that make up this panorama. I’ve cropped the image to make it fit on this page a little better.
Apollo 11’s landing site is well documented at the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal, with a variety of sources showing that site as viewed from the Lunar Orbiter and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).
The LRO website is here, but by far the best analyses of their images of Apollo landing sites is by ‘GoneToPlaid’. There is a particular breed of idiot that argues that even the LRO images are fake, and that the Apollo hardware, foot and vehicle tracks evident in these photographs have been added. Aside from well argued critiques of that idea (to whit: the original LRO images are available to all in their original format), what will follow shows that they would also have had to fake every rock and micro-
There is no point re-
The best quality image from the lunar orbiter is frame 5076, which was taken by Orbiter V, and a high resolution section of that is shown below with the landing site marked. The frame can be found here, where there is also a link to a 17Mb TIFF image of the high resolution image.
The width of the photograph is approximately 13Km across, and the Apollo 11 landing area is roughly in the area marked by the red square.
It’s interesting to compare this image with one obtained by Ranger 8, an unmanned probe launched in February 1965 that transmitted TV pictures back to Earth as it was approached what is euphemistically known as a hard landing, slamming into the moon about 70 km north-
As it did so, Camera B just caught the landing area, and this is shown below in both the original image and a zoomed crop covering roughly the same area as the Lunar Orbiter photograph.
The Orbiter image does show the same broad features as the LRO version, but it should be blatantly obvious that it does not show the surface in the same level of detail. It is certainly not possible to determine individual boulders or any details within the craters.
Now let’s have a quick comparison of the same LRO image with a photogrammetric map from 1978.
As usual with these investigations, one of the more interesting and challenging bits of work came from some conspiracy blinded nitwit making a ludicrous and unfounded claim, expecting it to go unchallenged and just be accepted as fact. The claim was that no rocks were visible in the Apollo 11 EVA TV broadcast, so there was no way that anything could be identified from the (admittedly poor) TV images.
Most people are familiar with either the view of Armstrong stepping off the LEM now, or the static view of the LM from the camera’s final position 100 feet away from the lander as the crew went about their business. However the full TV broadcast, seen by millions around the world, also featured a series of views around Tranquility Base after it was carried from the LM to its broadcasting position. Here’s a link to just one of the many sources of the broadcast in question.
As the camera pauses on each of those views, we can attempt to compile a rough panorama and see of we can identify the features in them. To help us in our quest we have a couple of other pans, one from the LM with an added frame from the 16mm camera and the other taken by Buzz just away from the LM. The former is useful as it gives a bit of height to help identify things, but doesn’t quite cover the whole scene viewed by the TV camera. The latter is a good comparison of the view from the ground and we also get a good indication of parallax showing the size of the area being covered. We even have a third that we can use a as comparison, taken just to the west of the LM,
So, having done that let’s see if we can , by a cunning selection of arrows and circles identify features on the set of views in comparison with the LRO’s image of the site. The area covered by the TV pan is quite wide so I’ve split the view into two, and I’ve cropped the pans to remove areas that aren’t covered. Some features can be made out in the pans that can’t be seen in the TV view, but I’ve identified them partly because I can, and partly because it helps to locate things seen on the TV footage.
Pictured on the right is the same area covered by the LRO view.
Unsurprisingly, all of the features picked out in the Apollo panorama can be seen in the LRO view, and many more besides (I ran out of colours).
I will grant that the precise rocks picked out in the centre of Little West crater could be out by a pebble or two, but I think you get the idea.
What is clear is that the LO view does not show the detail visible in the LRO view, particularly in terms of the smaller craters and rocks.
Feel free to cross check on the other panoramas to see how they match up, but trust me, they do.
One particular rock delayed matters with this exercise for some time, and that is the seemingly split rock standing proud of the horizon in the TV stills and also the ground level pan (and others). Once this one was confirmed, the others fell into place.
So, not only can you identify rocks in the TV footage, these rocks also appear in many different photographs taken on the surface and in the LRO images.
We’re not quite done yet -
The image shown below is the LRO view of the landing site (centre), the LO5 view (right) and the first frame obtainable from the 16mm magazine. I’ve used a DVD version of the footage, but you can find it here -
I’ve changed the orientation to make it fit the page better. For people in denial, West Crater is the large bright one right of centre at the top of the view.
As you would expect from a higher altitude view from the ascent module, on the face of it the LO5 image has done a good job of showing what’s in the 16mm frame, and you can make out many of the craters in all three shots. However, of we zoom in a little closer -
Well, the broad features are there, and you can still make out a lot of craters in the LO5 image, but you’d have to blind to refuse to admit that there is a marked reduction in the number of features visible. Can we go in any more?
Well, yes we can, I’ve rotated the image again to fit the page, and in this case the Apollo image is in the centre, the LRO on the right and LO5 on the left. By now the LO5 image has reduced to just the two larger craters, with odd smaller one here and there where they are deep enough to produce enough shadow. The Apollo 16mm still (and let’s not forget this is one frame of a long film) has enough resolution to show details within the craters, as well as other much smaller craters.
It’s a pity that the camera couldn’t swing just a tiny bit more to one side or it would have shown the LM. The cropped version below shows that the location of the TV camera is only just behind the edge of the ascent module window frame -
Looking pretty good so far. The existence of the trail in the LRO view identifies this as Little West crater beyond doubt.
The LM descends ever closer, and a few seconds later we can take another snapshot.
In this example I’ve used the green arrow to point to the same feature as the preceding image, a rock standing proud of the surface.
It’s fair to say that the ability of the LRO image to resolve surface details is diminishing, but we can have one more go at least.
We are now at the point of just picking up some dust (you can see a light stripe in the bottom left of the 16mm frame), and while details are beginning to be lost on the LRO view it is still possible to make out that the crater marked by the red arrow is the one next to where they would stand the TV camera (the white arrow from the original LRO image), and we can still make out rocks and small craters in both views that will also be seen in the still images, TV broadcast and definitely not in the Lunar Orbiter photographs.
The final image in this 16mm descent sequence is just 9 seconds from Buzz uttering the words “contact light”, indicating the the probes on the end of the LM ‘feet’ have touched the ground.
I can say with certainty that the crater identified by the red arrow is the same can be seen in the previous image because I have watched the footage. The other craters are more by deduction than clear identification, but they seem to be in the correct place. Any more than this and we are well beyond the limits of the LROs resolution, but we have definitely followed the Apollo 11 down to the ground and identified features that were not known about prior to landing.
We can also be certain that they haven’t been doctored after the fact, because images from this 16mm footage appeared in the popular press at the time. Pictured below and right are some examples from my own personal collection.
Having given the area some context, let’s now zoom right in to the landing site.
The image below show’s a section of one of the LRO images enhanced by GoneToPlaid. If you doubt its veracity you are welcome to take it up with him, or the LRO’s operators. I chose one with the highest resolutions available, and by superimposing the Orbiter photograph was able to identify the same areas. The image on the left is the Orbiter, the one on the right is the LRO, and it has been rotated to allow for easier viewing on your monitor.
So even a 16mm video shows features that only the LRO would capture much later, and it could only have done this in one way: just like the photographs and TV, they had to be there.
The view from China
In April 2018 China released much higher resolution versions of its images from Chang’e-
It’s a little trickier for Apollo 11 given the small size and relatively featureless nature of the landscape, but here is China’s view (left) compared with that of the LRO.
We have another interesting aspect of the landing,namely that they landed long ie past the intended landing zone (covered in the preamble to these pages) thanks to the presence of air in the docking tunnel between the CM and LM that gave it a little acceleration when they separated.
Before the arrived at the eventual landing site, Armstrong initially wanted to head to a crater they had already unofficially named ‘West’. Armstrong couldn’t land there, because as we all now know he reported this from the scene:
“Hey, Houston, that may have seemed like a very long final phase. The Auto targeting was taking us right into a football-
So we have a couple things to look at here. Is there a massive boulder field around West crater, can it be seen in the landing footage, and are those boulders visible in the lunar orbiter image?
Firstly, here’s a screenshot of the area north and west of West crater, which is in the bottom left. The area outlined in red is covered by the next part of the analysis:
Should be pretty obvious from that there are quite a lot of boulders, and pretty big ones at that. The LM is actually overflying right to left along a line 1/3 of the way down the image. In the images below I’ve taken a frame of the 16mm footage and compared it with the LRO view, using arrows as usual to identify the same rocks in both. Lunar Orbiter’s view is on the right. Both orbiter views have been rotated 90 degrees to match the direction of travel.
So, having just picked out a few rocks from the many available the ones you can see in the landing footage are an exact match for the LRO image, as are the numerous small craters next to which they lie. Can we see those same features in the best available LO shot? In a word: no. Not one. You can barely even make out all the craters. Armstrong’s description of a boulder is spot on, and the reason it surprised them is because it wasn’t there on their maps and photographs. The 16mm footage picks out it though, and the LRO images confirm them.
Next, the view from the ground.
The image below is a composite consisting of images AS11-
The crater on the right is West, and the red circle covers the entire area of operations of the Apollo 11 EVA. The smaller green circle is centred on the LM, and covers the disturbed ground around it. There is, arguably, a difference in shading the corresponds to the activity shown on the LRO images, but it could also be a product of natural variation. Here’s a close up -