Why does the Lunar Lander leave not tracks

qed

Senior Member
While pondering the problem of lunar dust I noticed that the lunar rover does not leave tracks in the dust.
  • Can anyone here explain why this is so?
For reference, here we see the rover just unpacked. So of course, no tracks here. Judging by the footprints, this was a trivial task.


This must also be recently unpacked as no tracks (although less footprints).


This must also be recently unpacked, since no tracks behind or between, although it is certainly moving given the dust flying from the wheels.


For reference, here is the rover covered in dust at the end of the Apollo 15 mission.



Obviously, this must also be recently unpacked (Apollo 15), as there are no tracks behind or between, although there appear to be tracks elsewhere.



This to must have been recently unpacked (Apollo 15.3),



This too seems to have been recently unpacked,



Here is one with a track, as


In the name of rational objectivity, here are tracks.
 
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Pete Tar

Senior Member.
A bit confused - in the first picture there are tracks.
In the second the rover is facing to the left, you can't see enough of the right side of the picture to determine there are no tracks and also the contrast is high so they may not be distinguishable.
I think really it's just a matter of the surface either being too bright to have track shadows, or simple terrain undulations hiding them.
The 'umbrella' is at the front of the vehicle. so tracks will be behind that.

ETA this picture..
 

qed

Senior Member
Agree. Umbrella at front.

Best evidence showing tracks (that I have found so far)





Arguable:




More without tracks:

 

qed

Senior Member
In the second the rover is facing to the left, you can't see enough of the right side of the picture to determine there are no tracks and also the contrast is high so they may not be distinguishable.
I think really it's just a matter of the surface either being too bright to have track shadows, or simple terrain undulations hiding them.
The 'umbrella' is at the front of the vehicle. so tracks will be behind that.
The contrast on the second is sufficient to show footprints. There is no track between the wheels or behind.
 

Trigger Hippie

Senior Member.
ETA this picture..

I've always wondered if anyone has surveyed the lunar lading sites in recent years. Turns out they did just that in 2009.

tracks.jpg

This one is from the Apollo 17 site. The link has many pictures of rover tracks and walking paths.
 

Pete Tar

Senior Member.
Agree. Umbrella at front.
I said that because of your 6th 'no track' picture, where the majority of the picture is in front of the rover.
The contrast on the second is sufficient to show footprints. There is no track between the wheels or behind.
Yes the contrast shows that, however the saturation of the white parts is washed out so faint marks will not show up obviously.
There is a mark behind the front wheel, though maybe a footprint because of the straight orientation.
There *are* tracks being made, so the most likely explanation is the camera just does not pick them up.
 

FreiZeitGeist

Senior Member.
Most pictures showing the Rover without tracks are made after the astronauts have leaved the vehicle and did something around it. Dont forget that the astronauts prefered to ´move by jumping, so that a lot of Dust and Soil was spread out when they moved around the Rover. This "fresh" dust overcasts the tracks by the Rover.

 

qed

Senior Member
Do you have a theory or are you just asking questions?
The question most certainly pertains to the moon conspiracy theory. I was re-reading the Bad Science debunking of why there is not dust on the lander. I was referenced to the Nasa dust problem. I assumed there would be dust on the rover pictures. So I was googling rover images, when this jumped out at me. I hate contradictions.
Most pictures showing the Rover without tracks are made after the astronauts have leaved the vehicle and did something around it. Dont forget that the astronauts prefered to ´move by jumping, so that a lot of Dust and Soil was spread out when they moved around the Rover. This "fresh" dust overcasts the tracks by the Rover.
Thank you, I will think about that explanation.
 

cosmic

Senior Member.
Jay Windley touched on similar notions at Clavius. See: "drag and drop rover"

This must also be recently unpacked as no tracks (although less footprints).
One shouldn't conclude that a lack of distinct LRV tracks in a given frame means the rover was freshly deployed. The above image is not only from the third EVA, it shows the LRV in its final parking place, as per ALSJ.

Let's look at a panorama to help with perspective: AS15_roverpan.jpg
Despite the scan quality not being superb here, you still can clearly see there are tracks visible in the adjacent frames. As FreiZeitGeist noted above, you're primarily seeing them being obscured by dust kicked up by the astronauts' activity during their duties.

Here are the individual HR images:
  1. AS15-88-11897
  2. AS15-88-11899
  3. AS15-88-11901
  4. AS15-88-11903
  5. AS15-88-11907
If you spend time browsing through ALSJ imagery, finding plenty of rover tracks should be a trivial exercise. The above panorama example emphasizes why it's helpful to include NASA's image designations, since it allows us to cross-reference the photos with the mission chronology -- it helps eliminate the guesswork.

*Edited to correct an image URL
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Interesting tires, which look like they would not always leave very distinct tracks in fine dust.
 

Pete Tar

Senior Member.
You don't know that:p.
Tracks exist, in the area of alleged activity, and are likely to have been made by the alleged activity of the LRE, however a secret mission to make the tracks to ensure they are photographed from orbit 3 decades later is possible, just really really stupid.
 

Pete Tar

Senior Member.
.... The above panorama example emphasizes why it's helpful to include NASA's image designations, since it allows us to cross-reference the photos with the mission chronology -- it helps eliminate the guesswork.
And sometimes there are descriptions with the photo of the astronaut describing what they were doing when they took it.

Would the surface layer of dust be completely uniform or was there variation with dust, and hard rock surfaces?
 

JRBids

Senior Member.
Most pictures showing the Rover without tracks are made after the astronauts have leaved the vehicle and did something around it. Dont forget that the astronauts prefered to ´move by jumping, so that a lot of Dust and Soil was spread out when they moved around the Rover. This "fresh" dust overcasts the tracks by the Rover.


Agree, the second photo looks like they may have been doing something on the rover, and stepped in the tracks between the front and rear wheels.
 

solrey

Senior Member.
Due to the lower gravity on the moon, objects weigh about 1/6 what they do on Earth. The Lunar Regolith is also a lot firmer than what was initially suspected. Then there's the lighting and other photography related factors, not to mention the design of the "tires". All things considered, it's no surprise that lunar rover tracks would not stand out in all photographs. However, there are plenty of pics with distinct tracks.

http://curator.jsc.nasa.gov/lunar/letss/regolith.pdf

http://www.universetoday.com/20360/lunar-regolith/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_soil

http://meteorites.wustl.edu/lunar/regolith_breccia.htm
 

cosmic

Senior Member.
And sometimes there are descriptions with the photo of the astronaut describing what they were doing when they took it.
Sure - and I should have been more specific there - ALSJ adds timestamps, the mission transcript itself, and helpful footnotes wherever possible.

Would the surface layer of dust be completely uniform or was there variation with dust, and hard rock surfaces?
As far as I know it varies. I thought I had a decent reference for this but can't seem to find it.
 

JRBids

Senior Member.
I thought it was interesting in one of the websites posted here, clavius.org, they said that sometimes the astronauts would pick up the end of the lander and pivot it, which was easy to do in the moon's gravity, rather than make a 3 point turn. Which means the lander WOULD have been plunked down somewhere and not have tracks.
 

qed

Senior Member
Tracks exist, in the area of alleged activity, and are likely to have been made by the alleged activity of the LRE, however a secret mission to make the tracks to ensure they are photographed from orbit 3 decades later is possible, just really really stupid.
An easier ontological route would be to question the truth of the recent photographs too*.

[* I assumed you understood that I was referring to another post where you criticised my certainty that 9-11 was not a conspiracy.]
 

qed

Senior Member
I thought it was interesting in one of the websites posted here, clavius.org, they said that sometimes the astronauts would pick up the end of the lander and pivot it, which was easy to do in the moon's gravity, rather than make a 3 point turn. Which means the lander WOULD have been plunked down somewhere and not have tracks.
Thank you. The truth of this hit me like a hammer. I had missed that fact.

There is now recently unpacked and recently pivoted. The later explains why sometimes the tracks seem to appear on the wrong side.

  • Surely the rover could easily be picked up by two and moved?
That would also explain the scarcity of footprints around the recently unpacked landers: they were unpacked and moved by hand.

Am I correct in assuming that two people rode on the lander usually? (Except when taking pictures).
 

JRBids

Senior Member.
Thank you. The truth of this hit me like a hammer. I had missed that fact.

There is now recently unpacked and recently pivoted. The later explains why sometimes the tracks seem to appear on the wrong side.

  • Surely the rover could easily be picked up by two and moved?
That would also explain the scarcity of footprints around the recently unpacked landers: they were unpacked and moved by hand.

Am I correct in assuming that two people rode on the lander usually? (Except when taking pictures).

While I don't know how many manned the rover, it is entirely possible for only one to have lifted an end and pivoted it 90 degrees.
 

qed

Senior Member
I also think I was wrong to post this under "no tracks", since I cannot see footprints either. For whatever reason, the optics are to poor. Nothing can be learned either way from such pictures.
 

AluminumTheory

Senior Member.
China will be visiting there soon. Though I do not know whether they will be anywhere near the Apollo landing sites.

I'm sure the photos they release will be used to bolster moon landing conspiracies one way or another.... Maybe they can check up on those hundreds of dead astronauts who we left on the moon.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Unpacking video:
At 10:15 they entirely pick up the rover and move it. Pivoting would be pretty easy.
 

Pete Tar

Senior Member.
An easier ontological route would be to question the truth of the recent photographs too*.

[* I assumed you understood that I was referring to another post where you criticised my certainty that 9-11 was not a conspiracy.]
Yes I did catch that, but was wondering if I should explore the implication as well.
 

cosmic

Senior Member.
That would also explain the scarcity of footprints around the recently unpacked landers: they were unpacked and moved by hand.
In the interest of accuracy, I would really recommend looking up specific images you're curious about and then matching them to the mission activity logs, instead of just trying to make inferences about what you see in the pictures. Guessing is destined to result in mistakes. (Further, to avoid missing details from viewing lesser-quality image copies, it's best to use NASA's high resolution scans.)

The very first picture you posted (AS15-86-11601) was taken during preparations for the Apollo 15 astronauts' first traverse to Elbow Crater. Yes, the rover had been recently deployed, however there's no scarcity of tracks or footprints in the photo -- and I don't understand why you'd stated no tracks were visible when they plainly are. If you look at the ALSJ entry for AS15-86-11598, taken just beforehand, you can take advantage of the footnotes:

You'll need to invest some time confirming whether or not the LRVs were actually freshly deployed or moved, or pivoted, otherwise you'll have no means of ensuring you're properly interpreting the images.

Am I correct in assuming that two people rode on the lander usually? (Except when taking pictures).
Usually. Any solo driving would have been short-lived, as in this footage (and image) from Apollo 16:

 

cosmic

Senior Member.
I also think I was wrong to post this under "no tracks", since I cannot see footprints either.
You can see Gene Cernan's footprints in AS17-137-21011.

For whatever reason, the optics are to poor.
The cameras and optics were excellent quality, it just wasn't always easy for the astronauts to take "great" photos due to the difficulties of operating in the lunar environment. The sun's brightness frequently diminished these sorts of subtle details you're looking for.
 

JRBids

Senior Member.
What's interesting in the video Cosmic posted is that the rover is kicking up all kinds of dust, which looks like fine ash, and you don't see it leaving any tracks. :)
 

cosmic

Senior Member.
What's interesting in the video Cosmic posted is that the rover is kicking up all kinds of dust, which looks like fine ash, and you don't see it leaving any tracks. :)
They're likely there but not visible under those lighting conditions, or due to the differences between Data Acquisition Camera (which shot video) and the trusty Hasselblads (which took stills). Later in the video however, you can see the rover following its previous tracks at one point.
 

jvnk08

Senior Member.
Sorry if this has been posted before, but this guy details pretty thoroughly(and amusingly) how the moon landings simply could not have been faked at the time:


So, any discrepancies you may find with what you expect the landings to have looked like, for example, the "lack" of tracks left by the rover, are almost without a doubt your own perception.
 

Monte North

New Member
I would like to extrapolate on solrey's reply. The Lunar Rover weighed somewhere in the range of 204 to 217kg (450 to 480lb) on Earth and capable of carrying twice its own mass which means a maximum weight of 650kg. The same mass on the lunar surface is 108kg (238lb) which in itself would leave indentations on the moons surface, however that same mass is distributed evenly over four points of contact (the wheels) and therefore each impact or indentation would be caused by an object equivalent to 25kg (55lb). The astronauts on the otherhand on average weighed 80kg and the suit was approximately 45kg (100lb) and the life support equipment was 90kg (200lb), a total of 380kg (837lb) per man. The lunar equivalent of each man's mass is 63kg (139lb) distributed over one or two contact points, that is approximately 32kg (70lb) for each point of contact. Now I've stated one or two points of contact because as was mentioned earlier the astronauts preferred to leap hence land on single points of contact and at least doubling the depth of the indentation. Either way the lunar indents from the astronauts movements would be deeper than that of the Lunar Rover fully laden which would in retrospect display a generally constant pressure on the lunar surface as opposed to a jumping or bouncing action from an astronaut.

ref:
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20130728172351AAYogHX
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090915131007AAEQL01
 

Esther

New Member
The most interesting in the qed's photos is what is hidden: the sky has been deleted in some of them. I've downloaded the pics to my computer and checked them in a photo editor, and when you give them more and more brightness or contrast, you can see the strokes of photoshop. For example in the second photo (static.ddmcdn.com_gif_lunar_rover_06_130731)
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
The most interesting in the qed's photos is what is hidden: the sky has been deleted in some of them. I've downloaded the pics to my computer and checked them in a photo editor, and when you give them more and more brightness or contrast, you can see the strokes of photoshop. For example in the second photo (static.ddmcdn.com_gif_lunar_rover_06_130731)
No you can't. Here's 06_130731, as per that post:
https://www.metabunk.org/data/MetaMirrorCache/static.ddmcdn.com_gif_lunar_rover_06_130731.jpg

Here it is brightness adjusted:


Original image:
http://spaceflight1.nasa.gov/gallery/images/apollo/apollo15/html/as15-88-11901.html


The most extreme levels adjustment just shows some pixels which are likely scanned dust, and jpg artifacts.

 

Esther

New Member
Not enough brightness: in this case I've used only brightness (a lot, is the onle way to see it)
You can see the line between the sand and the sky, and a lot of cuts. Look at the antenna.
Also, in this page: http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a15/ you can see lots of photos, and most of them has the sky deleted.
static.ddmcdn.com_gif_lunar_rover_06_130731.jpg
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Not enough brightness: in this case I've used only brightness (a lot, is the onle way to see it)
You can see the line between the sand and the sky, and a lot of cuts. Look at the antenna.
Also, in this page: http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a15/ you can see lots of photos, and most of them has the sky deleted.
View attachment 6188
Those are jpeg artifacts. In JPEG compression the image is subdivided into blocks of 8x8 pixels. These blocks are compressed using a series of mathematical formula. This means that each pixel in an 8x8 block can have an effect on the other pixels. When you have some details in some pixels, and black in the rest, then the black pixels get a bit of noise from this. That is what you are seeing.

Example. I made this image, saved it lossless as PNG:


Saved it as JPG


Re-opened, adjusted levels:


Notice the same 8x8 blocks of pixels.
 

JRBids

Senior Member.
The most interesting in the qed's photos is what is hidden: the sky has been deleted in some of them. I've downloaded the pics to my computer and checked them in a photo editor, and when you give them more and more brightness or contrast, you can see the strokes of photoshop. For example in the second photo (static.ddmcdn.com_gif_lunar_rover_06_130731)
What do you expect to see in the sky? Do you expect it to be blue?
 

Esther

New Member
This is a real sky, a non manipulated photo, before and after brightness. Look at the difference with the other:
Is the same effect as when you take a photo in the night and you aply brightness later. The dark in the other photo can't so deep, never.AS15-84-11242 -.jpg

AS15-84-11242 with brightness.jpg
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
This is a real sky, a non manipulated photo, before and after brightness. Look at the difference with the other:
Just different scanner and/or camera settings so the sky did not come out as pure black. Anything that is not a pure color will devolve into those noisy artifacts. It's just compression.

The sky on the moon is always black because it has no atmosphere. The only things you will see in it are stars. And during the day the exposure is too short, so you just get black. There is no source of light. On earth there is always some light everywhere in the sky.
 
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