Saturday, November 28, 2009

NY Times editorial on ASU's photo of Apollo 11 landing site

It's been a pretty quiet Thanksgiving weekend so far in the geo community but I ran across a reference to a New York Times editorial from a week or so ago, talking about recent photos taken by ASU's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera circling the moon. The camera has been capturing images of the Apollo landing sites, and added one of the original Apollo 11 site.

The concluding paragraphs resonated with me:
Yet there’s something terribly wistful about these photographs of the Apollo landing sites. The detail is such that if Neil Armstrong were walking there now, we could make him out, make out his footsteps even, like the astronaut footpath clearly visible in the photos of the Apollo 14 site.

Perhaps the wistfulness is caused by the sense of simple grandeur in those Apollo missions. Perhaps, too, it’s a reminder of the risk we all felt after the Eagle had landed — the possibility that it might be unable to lift off again and the astronauts would be stranded on the Moon. But it may also be that a photograph like this one is as close as we’re able to come to looking directly back into the human past.

There the lunar module sits, parked just where it landed 40 years ago, as if it still really were 40 years ago and all the time since merely imaginary.

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