Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing by exploring a detailed 3D map of the landing site.

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Apollo 11 landed the first man on the moon 50 years ago, on July 20th, 1969.  NASA selected the Sea of Tranquility near the equator of the moon for the first lunar landing attempt. Durning the decent, Neil and Buzz overshot the intended landing site and had to maneuver around a large crater and boulder field.  Upon touch down, they had less than a minute of fuel remaining. 

This 3D map allows you to explore the depth and size of the obstacles in the last seconds along the flight path.  It also added depth to what it might have been like standing next to a 30m wide impact crater or placing the science experiments that were left behind to collect valuable information of our moon.  I now look at lunar surface photos with greater understanding of location, vantage points and scale with this 3D map as a table top reference.

 
 
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MAPPING A DISTANT WORLD

To create an accurate map of the landing site, we utilized the closest satellite images of the surface, NASA maps and panoramic images taken during the EVA. From this data, combined with mission notes, we were able to accurately layout the locations of artifacts, where the astronauts explored and the depth and locations of significant craters.

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SINCE THEN

Seeing the landing site from earth or space based telescopes is simply not possible because of the limitations of optics. NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has provided much closer images and topography of the moon's surface. Hopefully, the recently announced return missions to the moon will not only advance our exploration, but expand our images of this historic site.