The pictures clearly show the hardware left on the lunar surface by American astronauts in the 1960s and 70s, including Apollo 17’s ‘Moon buggy’.
These are the clearest shots yet of the moon landing sites. They have been made possible when the LRO orbit was recently lowered from 50km above the Moon’s surface to just 25km.
This makes it easier to see equipment, such as the descent stages that put the astronauts on the surface. Some of the science experiments are visible, also – as are the trails of bootmarks left in the dirt as the crews positioned these science packages.
They were viewed by the narrow-angle imaging system on LRO’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) instrument.
At the lower altitude, this instrument sees objects at a resolution of 25cm by 25cm per pixel.
In an extreme blow-up of the Apollo 17 Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), it is just possible to discern the condition in which the astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt parked the buggy – with its wheels turned to the left.
LRO has been a highly productive mission. It has now returned several hundred thousands pictures of the lunar surface.
The probe was originally conceived as a robotic precursor to future manned missions. However, when Nasa might return to the lunar body with astronauts is not clear. Last year, US politicians cancelled the project, known as Constellation, that was intended to achieve this feat.
So I guess the conspiracy theorists will just say the photos are a fake along with all the others released after the manned missions. Like Obama’s birth certificate – some people will never be satisfied regardless of any evidence produced.