Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera

What Armstrong Saw

LROC simulation of what Neil Armstrong Saw as he landed the Apollo 11 Lunar Module Eagle.

The only visual record of the historic Apollo 11 landing is from a 16mm time-lapse (6 frames per second) movie camera mounted in Buzz Aldrin’s window (right side of Lunar Module Eagle or LM). Due to the small size of the LM windows and the angle at which the movie camera was mounted, what mission commander Neil Armstrong saw as he flew and landed the LM was not recorded. The LROC team reconstructed the last three minutes of the landing trajectory (latitude, longitude, orientation, velocity, altitude) using landmark navigation and altitude callouts from the voice recording. From this trajectory information, and high resolution LROC NAC images and topography, we simulated what Armstrong saw in those final minutes as he guided the LM down to the surface of the Moon. As the video begins, Armstrong could see the expected landing point was on the rocky northeastern flank of West crater (190 meters diameter), leading him to take manual control and fly horizontally, searching for a safe landing spot.

What Armstrong Saw


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