Apollo Moon flags still standing claims LRO..China aims to land on the moon in 2013..but without humans
Images taken by a Nasa spacecraft show that the American flags planted in the Moon’s soil by Apollo astronauts are mostly still standing.
The photos from Lunar Reconaissance Orbiter (LRO) show the flags are still casting shadows – except the one planted during the Apollo 11 mission.
This matches Buzz Aldrin’s account of the flag being knocked over by engine exhaust as Apollo 11 lifted off.
LRO was designed to produce the most detailed maps yet of the lunar surface.
Each of the Apollo missions that touched down on the Moon planted an American flag in the soil.
Scientists had previously examined photos of the landing sites for these flags, and had seen what looked like shadows cast by them on the lunar surface. But this was not considered conclusive.
Now, researchers have studied photos of the same areas taken at different points during the day and have observed shadows circling the points where the flags are thought to be.
Prof Mark Robinson, the chief scientist for the spacecraft’s camera instrument, LROC, said in a blog entry: “From the LROC images it is now certain that the American flags are still standing and casting shadows at all of the sites, except Apollo 11.”
The Arizona State University scientist added: “The most convincing way to see that the flags are still there, is to view a time series of LROC images taken at different times of day, and watch the shadow circle the flag.”
“Personally I was a bit surprised that the flags survived the harsh ultraviolet light and temperatures of the lunar surface, but they did. What they look like is another question (badly faded?)”
LRO began its mission in lunar orbit in September 2009, to identify mineral and other resources on the Moon as well as scout promising landing sites for future missions.
China’s third lunar probe will blast off in the second half of 2013, the state Xinhua news agency reported late yesterday. Other reports said it would land and transmit back a survey of the moon’s surface.
If successful, the landing would be China’s first on the lunar surface and mark a new milestone in its space development. It is part of a project to orbit, land on and return from the moon, Xinhua said.
China said in its last white paper on space it was working towards landing a man on the moon, although it has not given a time frame.
Beijing sees its multi-billion-dollar space program as a symbol of its rising global stature, growing technical expertise and the Communist Party’s success in turning around the fortunes of the once poverty-stricken nation.
It kicked off in 1999 with the launch of the unmanned Shenzhou-1.
Two years later, Shenzhou-2 lifted off carrying small animals and in 2003 China sent its first man into space. Since then, it has completed a space walk in 2008 and an unmanned docking between a module and rocket last year.
Most recently, a 13-day voyage of the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft became China’s longest-ever space mission and was notable for including the nation’s first woman astronaut among its three-member crew.
The crew also achieved China’s first manual docking with an orbital module, the Tiangong-1, a highly complex manoeuvre first conducted by the Americans in the 1960s and essential to building a permanent manned space station.
Next year’s planned lunar probe launch will follow the Chang’e 1 in 2007 and Chang’e 2 in 2010, both named for the Chinese goddess of the moon.
Xinhua quoted the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence as saying the project was proceeding smoothly.
2 things..pictures can be doctored..i dont see any flag..but thats just me..mr suspicious :)
the other thing..why isnt china sending humans to the moon..why is it unmanned? :)