Why Can We Get A Photo Of The Rover On Mars, But Not One Of The Landers On The Moon?

There it is! The Mars Rover!
There it is! The Mars Rover!

Anyone who is familiar with my Hubs will verify that I'm definitely not a conspiracy theory junkie. I'm addicted to facts and I don't go off on flights of fancy unless I'm writing science fiction. However, I am insatiably curious and when a very obvious anomaly surfaces on my radar, I tend to be like a bulldog with a bone. I'm not going to let go until I get some straight answers.

That's why I welcomed the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment's (HIRISE) latest results from the Department of Planetary Sciences, Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona in Tucson. As you can see in the image above, it is a stunning photo of the surface of Mars showing the little Mars Rover Opportunity! The entire image is approximately 400 meters (437 yards) across making it about four times the length of a football field, and was photographed during the afternoon of the Rover's 1783rd sol, or Mars day. The Rover Opportunity had driven 130 m (142 yards) on the prior day, so the Rover's wheel imprints are clearly visible as they cross various dark ripples to the upper right side of the vehicle.

Now that's an amazing photograph, when we consider that the Rover is 1.5 m (4.9 ft) high, 2.3 m (7.5 ft) wide and 1.6 m (5.2 ft) long, with a total weight of 180 kg (400 lb), making it lighter than a mid-sized motorcycle. You can see that little vehicle very clearly which makes it doubly amazing given the distance. Although it is often much further away, the shortest distance between Mars and the Earth is 78 million km (48 million miles).

Yes, technology is amazing. Imaging capabilities have improved to an astounding level from just 40 years ago when NASA first landed the Apollo Lunar Module on the Moon. Indeed, at the time, such imaging resolutions would have been considered impossible.

Hmm... Interesting...

In 1969 it could not have easily been foreseen that we could see what is little more than a glorified golf cart on the surface of Mars. Which brings me to a rather fascinating question:

Why has there never been a photograph of the lunar landers on the Moon? Any of the six of them? After all, the shortest distance between the Moon and the Earth is 363,300 km (225,740 miles), making it 215 times closer than Mars! It should be extremely easy to photograph... so... where are the pics?

The lunar lander had a total height of 6.37 m (20.9 ft ), a diameter of 4.27 m (14 ft ), a total landing gear span of 9.07 m (29.8 ft) and a total weight for the descent module (which is the lower part of the lunar lander left on the moon) of 10,149 kg (22,375 lb). Let's draw some comparisons. If you were high up in a skyscraper looking down at the Mars Rover Opportunity and a Lunar Lander Descent Module parked on the street below, the former would be a bit smaller than a Smart microcar, while the latter would be about the size of three Ford Focus cars parked side by side, without even taking the landing gear into consideration. The total aerial square meters for the Lunar Descent Module minus landing gear is 18 square meters (194 sq. ft), while for the Mars Rover Opportunity it's less than 3.5 square meters (37 sq. ft.), or about 19% the size. The total mass of the Lunar Descent Module is also much larger than the Mars Rover Opportunity, as it weighs 56 times more!

Back up on the skyscraper, let's assume that you're on the 100th storey, or about 1,000 feet up, and you're looking down onto the street. Yes, if you squint, you can see that little Smart microcar sized Mars Rover. However, the Lunar Descent Module, the size of three Ford Focus cars should also be easily visible, considering that it's not 100 storeys below you, but only five feet below you! Kinda hard to miss!

However, what NASA will try to make us believe is that although we can see the Smart Car from 100 storeys up, we can't manage to get a photo of the three Ford Focus cars from five feet away.

That would be much closer than the balcony of the 99th floor!

All of this is rather puzzling, as the Lunar Descent Module should present an image which is 1,118 times larger to an Earth bound observer than the Mars Rover. Yes, I'm aware that the HIRISE images were taken from Mars orbit, but the Moon has been far more extensively mapped from orbit than Mars and for a much longer period of time. It's extremely surprising that none of the six Lunar Landers were ever spotted!

Hmm... Interesting...

As I stated earlier, I'm not about to launch into any conspiracy theories here, as there are plenty of looney toon sites on the internet which will provide all sorts of crazy theories. But the bottom line has to be: If those six lunar landers are on the Moon... why isn't there a single photograph of any of them... unless they never got to the Moon in the first place and the lunar videos were all shot in some dusty valley in Nevada...

Hmm... Interesting...

Our economic meltdown has made it quite obvious that we are reaching the end of this phase of human society. The era of the Pax Americana is reaching a close and it is not yet quite clear what, if anything, is going to replace it. Therefore it is high time that the American government come clean on its various peccadillos in the past. Yes, it would be nice to open up the files on the JFK assassination, Area 51, Roswell, and all of the other historical question marks. However, the single most important file to make completely public has to be the Apollo missions. Have any humans ever walked on the moon? If so, please show us all the photos from orbit that prove it. Otherwise, NASA is just seeding more and more mistrust amidst an American populace which has already had its fill of lying, scheming, obfuscations, and leger de main. That's what got us to the brink of the Great Depression II, and we've all had more than enough of that.

NASA: Tell the truth! Now! We deserve it.

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Comments 30 comments

artfuldodger profile image

artfuldodger 7 years ago from Earth

The flaming dagger of reality known as Hal Licino, or as I refer to him, "H-Money", strikes again. I concur with the general conclusions you come to. I just don't like being called a nutbar. I've since stopped caring if that happens. I pretty much feel NASA is essentially worthless. Private enterprise in this area would be far preferable to public waste and malfeasance.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Profound thanks for the bottom of the flaming dagger! :)

I certainly do hope that if there is a private voyage to the moon, they try to go check out one of the Lunar Lander sites! It will be very interesting to see what, if anything, they find there!

agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 7 years ago from Australia

Hal Licino, could it possibly be that there is just not enough interest in the photos for NASA to waste the time, money, effort to take the shots?. Lets just say there is a "conspiracy", surely by now the perps would have "their" doctored shots of the landers to calm everone down!

btw Who's to say the shots from Mars are genuine? It just looks like a close up of my Kleenex dish cloth!!!!

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Actually it's not just NASA that has orbited the Moon and mapped the surface but several other countries. It's interesting that none of them found anything down there either.

If HIRISE admits that the photo is an ant walking on a JCloth, I will award you the Hubpages Eagle Eye Award Of The Century! :)

C. C. Riter 7 years ago

Very interesting. But how did they place the reflector mirrors they have used to shoot lasers to the moon for measuring it's distance from Earth?

agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 7 years ago from Australia

Hal , I love a conspiracy theory as well as anyone, and I really enjoyed "Capricorn 1" as a movie. But I like to see the FACTS as well as REASONS for the conspiracy!

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

C. C. Riter, again, I do not subscribe to any of the cuckoo lunatic conspiracy theories, but I doubt you'd find any of them which state that probes have not reached the Moon. The question is whether humans, at a time when a computer which could barely keep up with an Apple II or PC jr. would fill a building, had been able to walk on the lunar surface. Given that 40 years later we have trouble getting a shuttle into low Earth orbit to jig together a wobbly bucket of bolts Space Station, it does seem a bit far fetched. As for the reflectors, they could easily have been placed there by a rover-type vehicle.

agvulpes, I have no facts to back up any conspiracy theories and that's why I don't adhere to any of them. The only fact that I'm examining is the lack of a single shred of photographic evidence of something that should be exquisitely simple to capture: one of the LMs on the lunar surface. It seems to me rather strange that we can determine the atmospheric composition of earth-like planets circling stars dozens of light years away, but we can't take one single image of six bulky shiny metal Sherman tanks on the surface of our relatively nearby Moon.

Misha profile image

Misha 7 years ago from DC Area

LOL You might like that one :)


Pretty much the same questions, yet from the other side of the globe :)

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Hmm... sounds like CCCP might have been as much of a liar as NASA. Just another four letter word! :)

agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 7 years ago from Australia


"It seems to me rather strange that we can determine the atmospheric composition of earth-like planets circling stars dozens of light years away, but we can't take one single image of six bulky shiny metal Sherman tanks on the surface of our relatively nearby Moon."

The operative word in your statement is "can't" . I think you should have been "won't". My question again is "Why would they want to take photos, surely not just to please the conspiracy theorists or have one for their scrapbook?

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

It would seem to me that it would be a major NASA brownie point to be able to take a photo of Tranquillity Base from orbit as it could certainly serve to remind Americans of the greatness of their nation at a time when patriotism and hope are required above everything else. Having said that, the entire moon's surface has been extensively photographed by various space agencies outside of the United States. Nobody has ever seen anything.

Chandrayaan 1 was an Indian probe that orbited the moon last November at a 62 mile altitude in a mapping mission. At 62 miles, high resolution cameras should be able to make out the colors on the American flag lying on the lunar surface, let alone the huge, shiny LM!

If you research the highest resolution orbital photo maps of the moon created by European, Japanese, Chinese, etc. probes and you locate the various Apollo landing sites, there is never anything on them. The standard retort is that the resolution of the photos are insufficient to make out something the size of the LM which is pretty ridiculous given the HIRISE photo at the top of this Hub from Mars.

Again, I don't have a hidden agenda or secret theory about what the conspiracy is all about or even if there is a conspiracy. But the bottom line is that it's just a bit too weird.

agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 7 years ago from Australia

Hal, you are putting forward a very compelling line of reasoning and I can't debate any point you raise.

Lets just say hypothetically that there has been a conspiracy and the US did not get to the moon and everything was done in some isolated desert somewhere.

Do you not think that in the plans of the cover up someone would have said " Hey dudes people will want to see photos of the LMs on the moon, so lets tell them that they were blown into a million pieces so we did not leave space junk"?

In other words they surely would have had a plan "B"

issues veritas 7 years ago


I hear that Ben Laden is using it. Can't find him either.

sabrebIade profile image

sabrebIade 7 years ago from Pennsylvania

Youre no where near alone in your questions. They are even questioning why the Sea of Tranquility isn't included in Google's Moon mapping. I mean c'mon, wouldnt school kids wanna see the place we first landed? Thread on ATShttp://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread442770/p...

earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 7 years ago from Melbourne Australia

I am astounded that no one seemed to see Saddam's palaces from space.America treated it as a surprise when they found them.

Surely when he was building these endless monuments to himself America would have said something about that? Or didn't they know about it till on the ground in Iraq?

Another theory is they must have known for years without any concern about him being a dictator until it suited them to go get the oil, and they were treating the public like mushrooms, Keeping us in the dark and feeding us bullshit as usual!

C. C. Riter 7 years ago

The one interesting thing to me is that Armstrong has said very little about it after all these years. Why?

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

agvulpes: Thank you for your agreement. Again, I'm not trying to foment any insane new conspiracy theories, I'm just asking a relatively simple question as to why the photos simply don't exist. If we are going to ASSUME that the whole thing was shot in Nevada, then the reason why they didn't blow up the remains as a matter of public NASA policy is simply that they were in the '60s and didn't anticipate that there would be an age of such widespread information availability where people could independently research site photos on the Moon to this degree. They were in an age where the public was spoonfed anything NASA wanted, and accepted it without question.

issues veritas: Actually, I have it on very good authority that Bin Laden is using nanocup invisibility: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/29550120/ :) Actually don't get me started on 9/11... a subject which has more than enough conspiracy theories revolving around it already!

sabreblade: That is a very interesting thread! You might want to invite some of the more insightful posters to join this discussion! I'd love to chat with them!

earnestshub: As I stated in my answer to agvulpes, the US government has become accustomed to "treating the public like mushrooms" and I can assure you NASA is not the only agency which has been involved in these sorts of affairs.

C.C. Riter: IMHO, Neil Armstrong is a profoundly ethical and great man who may very well have been forced by his patriotism to live a lifelong lie for his country. All you need to do is review any of the videos where he is asked point blank about walking on the Moon and you can tell that he's squirming.

C. C. Riter 7 years ago

That's why i brouht that point to order, about Neil. I always wondered. thanks

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

It's very interesting as I remember a few years ago reading about professional investigators looking at tape of Buzz Aldrin answering questions about the Moon and they unanimously determined he was lying due to his body language.

Kika Rose profile image

Kika Rose 7 years ago from Minnesota

Hal! Hal Hal Hal! Your hub made me smle. ^_^ I love reading about conspiracy theories, and hearing my parents talk about the JFK assassination files and stuff. It keeps me entertained. But I'd never given much crecidence to the Lunar Landing theories... I mean, I know the government likes to lie and spew blasphemy from their seats of power to make us lowly peasants feel a little better about the mediocre lives we lead... ... Hey, I sound like my friend James! :O lol

By the way... HI HAL! ^____^ I'm at James' house while we wait for our friends to come over and play D&D! I'm a cleric!! WHOO!

Teresa McGurk profile image

Teresa McGurk 7 years ago from The Other Bangor

Anne Landers was on the MOON?

issues veritas 7 years ago

Do you think if there was something wrong that the USSR would have brought it to the attention of the whole world?

britneydavidson profile image

britneydavidson 7 years ago from united kingdom

well i think you sould check website of nasa then you wull get clear idea..lol...anyway nice information....thanx

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Kika: How you been, girl? Watch out for the Iron Golem as every 7 rounds he lets out a cloud of poisonous gas that's even worse than me after I have chili for dinner. :)

Teresa McGurk: Absolutely. You can see the photographs on the NASA site of the Lederer, Crowley and Van Buren's mission and their exploration of the Dear Abby Crater. :)

issues veritas: It's very interesting to note that at no time in space exploration history has any human exceeded low earth orbit with the exception of the Apollo missions to the Moon. None of the other American or Soviet manned missions have ever even tried. This is treading into conspiracy theory territory, but what if there is some truth to the claim that there is no sufficient shielding possible to keep astronauts safe from the Van Allen belts? The inability of human physiology to survive radiation of that density could go a long way towards explaining why we're stuck "in this neighborhood" and that walking on the Moon was not only impossible in the 60s but just as impossible today. AGAIN, IT'S JUST ANOTHER WILD THEORY.

britneydavidson: I've actually spent several hours poring through the photos on the NASA site. I have a very clear idea of what's on there. And there is NOTHING to show any of the six LMs.

avarano 7 years ago

Nice article!

sciencewithme profile image

sciencewithme 7 years ago

I would love to help you with your question but I am still stuck on my own. How come we can have cell phones that work brilliantly but we cannot get a drive through speaker with no static so that I can communicate with the kid trying to get my order.

skydiver profile image

skydiver 7 years ago from UK

Excellent article. Hadn't thought about it till you mentioned it. I am fairly certain that America has not landed on the moon, but I would welcome the proof. If they can prove they have, then congratulations to them :)

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

avarano: Thank you!

sciencewithme: I'll reply in a manner familiar to you: Th-szhzhzhz-ank Y-szhzhzh-ou. :)

skydiver: If they have the proof, why is it taking 40 years to make it public? Something really doesn't add up here.

C. C. Riter 7 years ago

Hal, here is a picture taken June 28, 2002 I beleive of the module from Hubble that may interest you


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Actually, that photo was not taken from Hubble at all, but from Apollo 17 in orbit. There are quite a few sites on the net which debunk that photo as not showing any of the 11 - 16 LMs, but something quite different. The specific reasons are many and varied as they run the gamut from the reasonable to the absurd. :)

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