Chinese images of Apollo moon landing sites published for the first time

Chinese images of Apollo moon landing sites published for the first time
Chinese images of Apollo moon landing sites published for the first time

The Chinese automatic station Chang'e-2 surveyed the landing sites of American manned spacecraft under the Apollo program. The images were posted on the scientific data portal of the Chinese Program for the Study of the Moon in 2018, but they were publicly available only in May 2020 in the book by Vitaly Egorov “People on the Moon. The main answers”.

The Chinese Lunar Exploration Program (CLEP) involves a phased exploration of a natural satellite of the Earth. The first stage - from a circumlunar orbit - was carried out by the automatic stations "Chang'e-1" and "Chang'e-2" in 2007-2011. The results of these studies were gradually published on the official CLEP website. The most detailed images of the entire lunar surface, taken by "Chang'e-2", were posted in the open scientific online archive in 2018.

The resolution of the images reaches 7 meters, i.e. on them, you can see surface details of this size or slightly less. For example, the bottom step of the Apollo lunar module is about 9 meters across. The terrain areas most trampled by the astronauts were also large and should be distinguishable in the Chang'e-2 images.

Russian popularizers of astronomy and cosmonautics Vitaly Egorov and Igor Tirsky were able to find the necessary frames from the Chang'e-2 in the scientific archive and found on them all the landing sites of the American lunar modules of the Apollo program. The search results are published in the book by Vitaly Egorov "People on the Moon", which was published by the publishing house "Alpina Non-Fiction" in May 2020.

“Finding these pictures is akin to treasure. I was probably the first to see this footage outside the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Previously, Chinese scientists only reported that there were such pictures, but they never officially published them. I call them “six points that changed the world,” Vitaly Yegorov commented on his discovery to Gazeta. Ru. - I also tried to examine the traces of Soviet automatic stations. Unfortunately, our "Lunokhod" is too small to be distinguishable in these images, but the landing site of the "Luna-17" is visible as a bright spot."

Of the six Chinese footage of the Apollo landing sites, the Apollo 16 landing site near Descartes crater is best seen. Due to the very light surface, not only the lunar module can be distinguished, but also the last stop of the LRV (Lunar Roving Vehicle) lunar rover. At the resolution limit, it is possible to determine the most well-trodden surface where astronauts installed scientific instruments.

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