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Here's what Neil Armstrong saw as he landed Apollo 11's Eagle on the moon

By Leonard David
July 18, 2019, 6:47:47 PM EDT

Now you can see what Neil Armstrong saw as he landed the Apollo 11 lunar module, known as the Eagle, on the surface of the moon on July 20, 1969.

The new view comes courtesy of NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter(LRO), which has been circling Earth's nearest neighbor since 2009.

"Most people are familiar with the 16mm movie of the Apollo 11 landing," said Mark Robinson of Arizona State University, leader of LRO's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC).

"However, that viewpoint was looking out the right window, entirely missing the hazards that Armstrong saw as the Eagle approached the surface," Robinson added. "The LROC team simulated what Armstrong saw out his window."

apollo 11 first view

A simulated view of what Apollo 11's Neil Armstrong saw as the Lunar Module Eagle approached the aim point on the northeast flank of the 620-foot-wide (190 meters) West Crater. The odd shape of the image area is due to the small windows in the Eagle. North is to the right. (Image credit: NAC M131494509L/NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)


"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)," LROC team members wrote in a description of the new video on Tuesday (July 16). "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 final three minutes of the Eagle's landing trajectory.

"From this trajectory information, and high-resolution LROC NAC [Narrow Angle Camera] images and topography, we simulated what Armstrong saw in those final minutes as he guided the LM down to the surface of the moon," the team members wrote.

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