NASA reimagines Apollo 11 landing on the Moon through Neil Armstrong's eyes on its 50th anniversary

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NASA reimagines Apollo 11 landing on the Moon through Neil Armstrong's eyes on its 50th anniversary
A smiling Neil Armstrong in the lunar module cabin of Apollo 11 after the extravehicular activity NASA

  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has recreated what it might have been like to witness the Apollo 11 landing through Neil Armstrong’s eyes.
  • The video uses trajectory information, topography and images to recreate what never was.
  • You see Armstrong changing tracks at the last minute to find a safe landing spot for Apollo 11’s lunar module.
The world’s first manned mission to the Moon, the Apollo 11 landing, is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

During the landing, only a 16mm time lapse was caught by the movie camera mounted on Buzz Aldrin’s window. Neil Armstrong’s camera, on the other hand, was damaged so there’s no video footage of what he saw as he navigated the Apollo 11 on to the lunar surface.

NASA reimagines Apollo 11 landing on the Moon through Neil Armstrong's eyes on its 50th anniversary
The crewmen of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission leave the Kennedy Space Center’s Manned Spacecraft Operations Building (MSOB) during the prelaunch countdownNASA

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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration ( NASA), to commemorate 50 years of Apollo 11’s success, used the footage from Aldrin’s camera to simulate what Armstrong might have seen as he descended upon the Moon.


Recreating history

It took two key pieces to make this happen. One, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) had to reconstruct the last three minutes of how the lunar module landed using landmark navigation and cues from the audio.

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Add, once the trajectory information was in place, NASA used images from the LROC Narrow Angle Camera (LROC NAC) to simulate what Armstrong might have seen as the Apollo 11 touched down on Earth.

Last minute changes

If you listen to the audio of the video, it can be ascertained that Armstrong originally wanted to land Apollo 11 on the northeast flank of the West Crater. Getting close, he saw that it was extensively rocky forcing him to take over manual control, fly horizontally and look for a safer space to land the lunar module.

NASA reimagines Apollo 11 landing on the Moon through Neil Armstrong's eyes on its 50th anniversary
Apollo 11 landing siteLROC/NASA

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Eventually he landed around 500 meters away from the originally designated spot.

A few minutes later, he was on the moon, making the legendary boot print and stating, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

NASA reimagines Apollo 11 landing on the Moon through Neil Armstrong's eyes on its 50th anniversary
One of the first footprints on the lunar surfaceNASA

See also:
Five Apollo 11 technologies that NASA still uses 50 years after the first man landed on the moon
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The Apollo moon program's Mission Control Center has been restored and opened to the public. Check out the 1969 time capsule.
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