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Apollo 15 Landing Site Spotted in Images
By Leonard David
Senior Space Writer
posted: 02:11 pm ET
27 April 2001

APOLLO LANDING SITE SPOTTED IN LUNAR IMAGES

WASHINGTON – Put aside those absurd claims the Apollo Moon landings were a hoax. Two scientists pouring over photos taken by a lunar orbiting spacecraft have eyed evidence of a touchdown.

New research led by Misha Kreslavsky, a space scientist in the department of geological sciences at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, has found anomalies in the Moon’s surface in the vicinity of the Apollo 15 landing site.

Apollo 15’s lunar module, the Falcon, touched down at the Hadley-Apennine region near the Apennine Mountains on July 30, 1971. Falcon was the first of the piloted landers to carry enlarged fuel tanks, as well as tote along a Moon rover.
   Images

Map of photometric anomalies around the Apollo 15 landing site. Click-to-Enlarge
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Moonwalkers David Scott and James Irwin scuffed up the lunar surface during their over three-day stay. Using an electric-powered car, the twosome wheeled their way back and forth over the crater-dotted terrain for a total of 17 miles (27.4 kilometers).

Lunar properties

Kreslavsky, along with research colleague Yuri Shkuratov of the Kharkov Astronomical Observatory in Ukraine, made use of images taken by the U.S. Defense Department’s high-tech Clementine lunar orbiter.

The Ballistic Missile Defense Organization’s faster, better, cheaper Clementine probe circled the Moon in 1994, making use of a camera that snapped well over a million images in the ultraviolet to visible range.

A set of Clementine images in the vicinity of the Apollo 15 landing site were intensively studied by Kreslavsky and Shkuratov. Their work was dedicated to help discern fresh impacts on the Moon, or to search for sites of recent seismic activity in the lunar crust.

The work and the techniques utilized not only proved useful in studying the lunar surface, but also yielded a bonus find.

Picture this

A small dark spot found in the Clementine images is not associated with any fresh crater, but exactly coincides with the Apollo 15 landing site, Kreslavsky told SPACE.com.

"This is a result of my processing 52 images taken by the Clementine spacecraft through a red filter, while the spacecraft went over the scene from the southern horizon through zenith to the northern horizon," Kreslavsky said. A diffuse dark spot can be seen exactly at the landing site, he said.

The new research adds to earlier work published in 1972 by space scientists Noel Hinners and Farouk El-Baz.

In an Apollo 15 preliminary science report, Hinners and El-Baz studied two high-resolution photographs of the landing site vicinity. One picture was taken from the Falcon lunar lander during descent. The other image, snapped by astronaut Alfred Worden, was taken from the orbiting Apollo command/service module, Endeavour, a few hours after Scott and Irwin had landed.

"Some brightening of the immediate vicinity of the landing point is seen on the second photo," Kreslavsky said.

Rocket blast

Using Clementine photos taken of the Apollo 15 touchdown zone, several anomalies can be seen. "All of them but one are related to small, fresh impact craters. The only one not related to any crater, exactly coincides with the landing site," Kreslavsky said.

The disruption in the structure of the lunar regolith is caused by the landing, Kreslavsky said. He contends that the alteration has been created by the lunar module’s engine during touchdown.

The anomaly is within a 165-foot (50-meter) to 490-foot (150-meter) radius around the landing site, Kreslavsky said. "Unfortunately, the Clementine data do not allow similar studies for any other landing sites."


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