In a considerable downer for space conspiracy theorists, Chandrayaan-1’s terrain-mapper camera has recorded images of the landing site of US spaceship Apollo 15 and tracks of its lunar rovers that were used by astronauts to travel on moon’s surface nearly four decades ago, a scientist said Wednesday.
Prakash Chauhan of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said the images captured by the hyper-spectral camera on board Chandrayaan-1 debunked conspiracy theories that have claimed that the Apollo 15, the fourth US mission to land on the moon was a hoax.
His remarks came during his presentation at a conference on Low Cost Planet Missions (LCPM) here titled “Chandrayaan-1: TMC and HYSI data analysis for Apollo landing sites and Mare Orientale”.
“We managed to identify the landing site of the Apollo 15 shuttle on the basis of the disturbances on the moon’s surface. Our images also show tracks left behind by the lunar rovers which were used by the astronauts to travel on the moon’s surface,” Mr. Chauhan, who is presently attached to the Space Applications Centre at Ahmedabad, said.
“Lunar dust is dark. The disturbances left by the spacecraft and the rovers have caused disturbances which are easily distinguishable. The disturbed surface is bright,” Mr. Chauhan pointed out. He said that the images sent back by Chandrayaan-1 adequately debunked conspiracy theories that the Apollo 15 mission was a hoax.
“Chandrayaan’s images serve as an independent corroboration that can help dispel doubts about the NASA mission,” he said. However, he admitted that while Chandrayaan-1’s low resolution camera was not equipped to capture images of the footprints left behind by first astronauts on the moon, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, a lunar reconnaissance orbiter equipped with a high resolution camera launched by NASA could capture the images in the near future.