LRO data shows us what the crew saw on Apollo 13

Shane McGlaun - Feb 25, 2020, 7:59 am CST
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LRO data shows us what the crew saw on Apollo 13

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has gathered data that allows us to recreate some of the views that the astronauts on Apollo 13 would have seen as they orbited the moon decades ago in 1970. The visualization that NASA has offered is in 4K resolution and depicts different views of the surface starting with earthset and sunrise and ending with Apollo 13 reestablishing contact with Mission Control.

NASA notes that all the views in the video are sped up and aren’t in real-time. The video opens with the note that between earthset and sunrise, the crew was in total darkness for 8 minutes. After that 8-minute span, the lunar terrain emerged into view. The terrain looks extremely rugged in the NASA video.

As the terrain moves under the spacecraft the astronauts were treated to a view of huge numbers of craters that were made over the millennia from asteroids hitting the Moon. Craters within caters everywhere you look. Once the Earth came into view again, the astronauts were able to contact Mission Control.

Being out of contact was one of the most nerve-wracking times for the astronauts and mission controllers on Earth. Had anything gone wrong around the far side of the moon, no one would have known back on Earth.

The video shows what the team saw on the free return trajectory around the moon that marked the start of the return home. This is a computer rendering that was created using data gathered by the LRO, which has been in orbit around the moon since shortly after it launched in 2009. LRO orbits the Moon at an altitude of 31 miles and requires two hours for a full orbit. This is not an actual video taken from the LRO, it’s a rendering based on gathered data.


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