Like kids traipsing through freshly fallen snow, Apollo astronauts left unambiguous tracks in lunar soil. Recently released high-resolution NASA images provide the best detail yet of the extent to which we have left our mark on the moon.
Flying high above the moon’s surface, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, snapped these new pictures, which show details as small as 25 cm across. In them, you can see zigzagging paths that astronauts walked, crisp parallel lines from the lunar rover, and the many instruments and objects that remain from each mission.
In comparison, images taken in 1966 and 1967 by NASA’s original Lunar Orbiter missions can only resolve the surface down to about 60 meters. While mankind has yet to send people to follow in the Apollo mission’s trail, the contrast between these photographs underscores how far we've come technologically in the intervening decades.
This video pans around the Apollo 17 landing site, showing off areas of interest seen from orbit and juxtaposing them with photographs the astronauts took while on the ground.
Video: NASA/Goddard/ASU [high-resolution version available]