53 years later, an Indian probe photographs the Apollo sites on the Moon

Before starting the busiest portion of its particularly dense 2022 calendar, the Indian space agency shot the portrait at two iconic sites of the Apollo program.

While awaiting the return of the Americans to the Moon, expected by 2025, the moon landings of the Apollo 11 and 12 missions are still among the greatest successes in world aerospace to date. Recently, the Indian probe Chandrayaan-2 offered us a return in images on these historical events; she photographed various sites of the Apollo missions on the Moon, with some spectacular shots.

These images were released by ISRO, the Indian space agency. They were then relayed on Reddit and Twitter and spotted by Futura. They were captured by the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter, the pride of Indian aerospace. A way to make this machine profitable, which has been wisely in orbit since the relative failure of the eponymous mission in 2019.

Indeed, this satellite was supposed to work in tandem with the Vikram lander. Unfortunately, the latter had a disastrous end when it crashed on the Moon following a technical incident. Unable to brake during the approach phase, it therefore ended its race with a crash. Today, all that remains of the craft is probably a crater on the surface of our satellite.

Eagle and Intrepid modules still stand

But the loss of his partner did not make the probe obsolete. She continues to collect data for ISRO while waiting for her new co-worker to arrive. At present, the prize for the most beautiful images of the site went unquestionably to NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. But those of Chandrayaan-2 are of at least comparable quality, if not better than those offered by the American machine.

We discover the impact points of the Apollo 11 and 12 missions with an unequaled level of detail. For those who are not familiar with them, these sites are an integral part of the history of the conquest of space. They are respectively the first and second missions to have brought humans to the Moon in 1969.

It can be seen that the lander Lunar Module Eagle, which dropped Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aladrin on the Moon, hasn’t budged one iota. 53 years after Apollo 11, it still watches over the Sea of ​​Tranquility, like a monument to the memory of this glorious episode in the history of astronautics. For the anecdote, these photos correspond more or less to the sight that Michael Collins would have benefited from if he had had the leisure to look towards the surface with a telescope.

As a reminder, he went down in history as big left behind of the most famous space mission in history. While his two companions left to trample the lunar dust, Collins had to stay aboard the Columbia command module parked in orbit about 100km from the surface – an altitude comparable to that of the current orbit of Chandrayaan-2.

© The Apollo 12 mission site, with the Lunar Module Intrepid in the center. © ISRO

Nice souvenir photos before the return to serious things

It wasn’t just for Apollo 11; the probe also photographed the Apollo 12 site. It was on this occasion that a second human crew went to the Moon. And there again, the lunar module (this time called Intrepid) still sits on the surface of our satellite.

Let’s hope that these very beautiful images bode well for the continuation of ISRO’s operations. Indeed, the Indian agency will soon begin the home stretch before the next important deadline of its calendar: a new attempt to land a machine on the Moon during the Chandrayaan-3 mission, scheduled for August 2022.

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