Today at 16:30 UTC, NASA released the first images of the Apollo landing sites taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). These are actually the first photos of Apollo landing sites with resolution high enough to show the equipment left behind by astronauts on the Lunar surface. Contrary to the ridiculous beliefs of Moon landing deniers, the resolution power of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is nowhere close to being able to accomplish a similar feat.
Apollo 11 lunar module, Eagle at the Tranquility Base. Image width: 282 meters - Photo Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University
Apollo 14 lunar module, Antares. Image width: 538 meters - Photo Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University
Labeled photo of the Apollo 14 landing site - Photo Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University
Apollo 15 lunar module, Falcon. Image width: 384 meters - Photo Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University
Apollo 16 lunar module, Orion. Image width: 256 meters - Photo Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University
Apollo 17 lunar module, Challenger. Image width: 359 meters - Photo Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University
First of all, let me make clear that I’m not naive to believe that (yet another) piece of irrefutable evidence will change the mind of conspiracy theorists. Those who still believe that NASA pulled of the biggest lie in history matched only by that of organized religion, despite having every single piece of their fantasy debunked innumerous times, are not gonna be stopped by some silly thing called evidence. As Phil Plait has put it in one of his posts:
You could fly a conspiracy theorist to the Moon and show them the equipment lying on the desolate surface, and they’d accuse you of drugging them.
Despite thousands of pictures and hours of video footage made by astronauts themselves and an unconquerable mountain of evidence refuting every single one of their claims, the Moon landing deniers will continue to spread their non-sense with religious zealotry. Similarly, antivaxxers will insist that vaccines cause autism. Creationists will obstinate that the Earth is 6,000 years old, even in a speech about mining Uranium, which, ironically enough, is used in the Uranium-lead scheme of radiometric dating to determine the age of Earth (4.5 billion years). These people live in a fantasy world rivaling that of magic schools boys and a gay headmaster in a fight against an evil soulless orphan supremacist. Their “reality” has nothing in common with an evidence-based world.
To say the truth, these people are not deserving of any respect whatsoever as they have none for the thousands they would call liars, frauds and cowards. They have the audacity to dismiss the heroism of those 24 brave astronauts who flew to the Moon and thus ventured further from the Earth than any man in the history. They would blatantly shrug off the achievement of the 12 extraordinary men, who had the privilege to touch and walk on another world, standing on shoulders of every single man and woman who dedicated their lives to the human space flight. That includes every single cosmonaut who has ever passed beyond the barrier of space, every worker in every mission control center around the world, every scientist who devised an experiment to be conducted in vacuum under zero gravity, every technician and engineer who tirelessly built every component, connected every wire and tested and retested every spacecraft zillion times until they could no longer talk, think or dream of anything else, and most importantly, the crew of Apollo 1, Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roget Chaffee, together with Edward Givens (support crew Apollo 7) and Clifton Willians (backup LMP Apollo 9) who were among the 32 astronauts who made the ultimate sacrifice in the effort to push the boundaries of what is possible.
To discard this wondrous accomplishment of humanity based on nothing but paranoia, inferiority complex and/or in an attempt to sell a few extra copies of a book or a movie, is against the very nature of being human, i.e. our curiosity to explore the unknown, our perseverance and unwillingness to give up despite odds or doubt and the determination to reach the stars. Fortunately, the view of these (few) individuals is irrelevant because:
Truth needs no defense. Nobody, nobody… can ever take those footsteps I made on the surface of the Moon away from me.
– Eugene A. Cernan (Gemini 9A, Apollo 10, Apollo 17)
This graphic shows the approximate locations of the Apollo moon landing sites - Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio