NASA’s image experts have stitched together incredible panoramas of the Moon to mark the anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. In three days, on July 20, half-a-century will pass since the first time a human set foot on the Moon. The historic Apollo 11 mission was the first of six Apollo Moon landings – the only manned lunar landings to date. Since Apollo 17 in December 1972, no astronaut has been back to the Moon.
There have been a total of 12 men across the six mission to walk on the surface of the Moon.
Each of the Apollo astronauts was armed with a camera to document every step of their journey from lunar transit and lunar orbit to descent and surface exploration.
By carefully combining multiple exposures into one long panorama NASA faithfully recreated what the astronauts saw in space.
The effort was carried out under the watchful eye of Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt
The space agency said: “NASA imagery experts at NASA’s Johnson Space Center have ‘stitched together’ images from the Apollo landings sites on the Moon for a 50th anniversary reminder of what the 12 humans who walked on its surface experience visually.
“Individual images taken by the Apollo astronauts were pulled together by NASA imagery specialist Warren Harold at Johnson, and the accuracy of the unique perspective they represent was verified by Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison ‘Jack’ Schmitt, the only geologist to walk on the Moon.”
Schmitt flew on Apollo 17 as the Lunar Module Pilot alongside Commander Eugene Cernan and Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans.
The geologist was also the first Apollo astronaut on the Moon who did not have an aviation background in test flights.
Apollo 17 completed three moonwalks on its mission – the longest of all the Apollo landings – and collected the largest sample of lunar rocks.
The mission landed in the Taurus-Littrow region of the Moon on the near-side of the lunar orb.
Schmitt said: “The Valley of Taurus-Littrow on the Moon presents a view that is one of the more spectacular natural scenes in the Solar System.
“The massif walls of the valley are brilliantly illuminated by the Sun, rise higher than those of the Grand Canyon, and soar to heights over 4,800 feet on the north and 7,000 feet on the south.
“At the same time, the summits are set against a blacker than black sky – a contrast beyond the experience of visitors from Earth.
“And, over the South Massif wall of the valley, one can always see home, the cloud-swirled blue Earth, only 250,000 miles away.”
The 12 astronauts who walked on the Moon were Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, Pete Conrad and Alan Bean, Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell, David Scott and James Irwin, John Young and Charles Duke, Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt.
In the coming years, NASA aims to send the first woman to the Moon as part of the Artemis space programme.