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NASA claims images show debris from Apollo moon landings – but were they manned, as we’ve been led to believe…?

NASA Releases New Images Of ‘Moon Landings’

By Jon King

According to a post on the official NASA website tonight, the space agency’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), launched on June 18th, 2009, has finally returned images of what NASA claims are the Apollo moon landing sites.

Though the resolution leaves much to the imagination, NASA is claiming the images include the Apollo 11 lunar module in which Neil Armstrong and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin landed on the moon.

According to the post on the NASA site: “The pictures show the Apollo missions’ lunar module descent stages sitting on the moon’s surface, as long shadows from a low sun angle make the modules’ locations evident.”

The post adds: “The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, or LROC, was able to image five of the six Apollo sites, with the remaining Apollo 12 site expected to be photographed in the coming weeks.”

The LRO reached lunar orbit on June 23rd, and managed to photograph what NASA believes are the Apollo landing sites between July 11th and 15th.

NASA promises that, as the LRO settles into its final ‘mapping orbit’ in the coming weeks, the next batch of images will have 2 to 3 times greater resolution, and will thus prove once and for all that NASA landed on the moon.

However, sceptics are already voicing their concerns that, although the images appear to show space debris on the lunar surface, proof that the images reveal the remnants of the Apollo missions is still far from conclusive.

Many images have already been returned by NASA revealing space debris on the moon, none of which has yet proven to be debris from the Apollo missions.

In its defence NASA claims that the image of the Apollo 14 landing site depicted here ‘had a particularly desirable lighting condition that allowed visibility of additional details.’

‘The Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Package, a set of scientific instruments placed by the astronauts at the landing site, is discernable, as are the faint trails between the module and instrument package left by the astronauts’ footprints.’

True, there does indeed appear to be a faint trail leading from the ‘LM Shadow’ to the ‘Scientific Instruments’, as NASA claims. But then NASA has claimed a lot about the images it has published over the years.

But even if NASA is correct and the images do portray what’s left of the Apollo lunar modules, evidence that they carried astronauts to the moon’s surface remains dubious.

All we can say for certain about these images, assuming they are genuine, is that NASA landed lunar modules on the moon, and that has never been in doubt anyway. What has been in doubt is whether Neil Armstrong and Co were ever inside one of those machines. And that remains a point to be proven.

In any event, as NASA points out, the LRO was not dispatched to the moon simply to take these photographs, nor merely to prove the validity or otherwise of the Apollo moon program. Over the coming weeks and months, NASA says, the LRO will relay detailed lunar data back to earth, essential for identifying landing sites for future moon missions.

“Not only do these images reveal the great accomplishments of Apollo,” LRO project scientist Richard Vondrak revealed, “they also show us that lunar exploration continues.”

He added: “They demonstrate how LRO will be used to identify the best destinations for the next journeys to the moon.”

According to NASA, the “next journeys to the moon” are planned for around 2020 or sometime soon thereafter – strangely, the precise same time Russia plans its first manned moon landing.

We can only wonder, then, if the 2020 moon landings will carry walking talking astronauts. Or whether that bit will again be down to Hollywood CGI.

Below: Apollo 11 and Apollo 14 lunar modules.

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images: NASA”:http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LRO/multimedia/lroimages/apollosites.html

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