NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has captured the sharpest images ever taken from space of the Apollo 12, 14 and 17 landing sites. The pictures show the tacks and debris left by astronauts and their lunar rovers on the Moon's surface in the 1960s and 1970s.
LRO has recently lowered its orbit from 50km above the Moon's surface to just 25km. In the photos of the Apollo 17 site, the tracks made by the lunar rover can be clearly seen along with the last foot trails left on the Moon.
One of the images of the Apollo 17 landing site show the last tracks left by astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt on the Moon.
Images also show where the scientists set up their scientific instruments that provided the initial insights into how the Moon looked.
We can retrace the astronauts' steps with greater clarity to see where they took lunar samples, said Noah Petro, a lunar geologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Petro is a member of the LRO project science team.
Arizona State University researcher Mark Robinson, principal investigator for the camera, said the new low altitude narrow angle camera images sharpened man's view of the Moon's surface.
According to Robinson, the images would help researchers learn more about the photometric properties of the Moon. Besides, it would enable scientists to determine more accurately where pieces and objects were left on the Moon and from where the samples were collected.
See photos and a video clip below.