Just out of boredom at work, how come there are no satellite photos of the Land Rover left on the moon during the Apollo missions? If I can see my own house on Google Map, I would assume they could get images of the rover.
Well you'd be wrong. The only way to image the moon as well as google earth sees the Earth is to send an imaging sat with very high resoulution to the moon and that hasn't happened yet. However with the VSE you migh not have to wait too long for that Moon imaging sat.
Lunar orbits that low degrade pretty quickly (hours to days) due to masscons, they also require more energy to get into and to change plane if that is required. You have to reach a balance between altitude and propellant requirements to establish and maintain that orbit.
<font color="yellow">So does this mean that it isn't possible at this time, or that we could probably do it but for some reason there is no interest behind it?</font><br /><br />Probably both. We don't currently have the capabiltiy of putting a reconnaissance satellite into lunar orbit. Nor do we have any pressing need to image the rovers. Odds are they are still there. NASA didn't even equip them with theft-deterrent devices. Not even The Club(TM).<br /><br />NASA does have a project in the works known as Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. It's modelled after MRO, which was just launched in August. It may have the resolution necessary to image the rovers.
Global multispectral and hyperspectral data, plus X-ray neutron and gamma ray mapping is much more important than very high resolution and probably panchromatic images of limited sites. Hence the emphasis on such data sets by recent and most future missions.<br /><br />Jon <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em>Whether we become a multi-planet species with unlimited horizons, or are forever confined to Earth will be decided in the twenty-first century amid the vast plains, rugged canyons and lofty mountains of Mars</em> Arthur Clarke</p> </div>
Transorbital had planned to launch a commercial mission (Trailblazer) to the moon. This mission had US government approval and the orbiter would have had the resolution necessary to imagine the lunar landers.<br /><br />However, all is quiet on their front and the website remains un-updated. One can only assume that, like most, they ran out of funds (but I'm sure conspiracy theorists will have a different hypothesis <img src="/images/icons/tongue.gif" />).
The Apollo 16 crew, in 1972, photographed the crater made by Ranger 9 in 1965. I have no info on the camera, but IIRC, the crater was around 50 feet across.<br /><br />Also, Lunar Orbiter 3 photographed the elongated shadow (it was near local sunrise or sunset) of Surveyor 1 in 1967. The camera had a ~600mm telephoto lens, and the altitude of the craft was most likely greater than 50 km.<br /><br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#ff0000"><strong>TPTB went to Dallas and all I got was Plucked !!</strong></font></p><p><font color="#339966"><strong>So many people, so few recipes !!</strong></font></p><p><font color="#0000ff"><strong>Let's clean up this stinkhole !!</strong></font> </p> </div>