The Lunascan Project Moon Shot Series
Apollo 11
July 20, 1969

The first manned spacecraft landing on the Moon was at 3:17 p.m. E.S.T. on July 20, 1969, when the Apollo 11 Lunar Module, Eagle, landed in Mare Tranquillitatis, located at 0°4'5"N latitude, 23°42'28"E longitude. The Eagle landed approximately 50  kilometers from the closest highland material and approximately 400 meters west of a sharp rimmed blocky crater about 180 meters in diameter. Astronaut Aldrin immediately began describing the the view from the window:

 ". . . it looks like a collection of just about every variety of shapes, angularities, and granularities, every variety of rock you could find . . . it looks as though they're going to have some interesting colors to them."

Before the Apollo 11 landing took place there were some reconnaissance flights performed by the Lunar Orbiters, in particular LO-5.


Southern portion of Rukl Section 35

Used in two other previous web pages in the Moon Shot Series, the above graphics shows the locations of all three NASA missions, which culminated in the Apollo 11 landing. The chart above is the bottom portion of Rukl Section 35. For comparison purposes the crater Sabine is 30 km wide.



The soft landing site of the Apollo 11 expedition is even better represented here in this two-dimensional b&w image from the Rukl Atlas photo collection.  Close to it are the three small craters Aldrin, Armstrong and Collins (3.4 km, 4.6 km, and 2.4 km in diameter) named after the Apollo 11 crew.  These are the only examples on the near side of the Moon of lunar formations named after living persons.  The large crater to the left is Sabine.  (Source: Rukl Atlas)


MPS (Medium Power Scan) - Consolidated Lunar Atlas Photo E9
In the above image the arrow points to the landing site in the southern portion of Mare Tranquillitatis. The two large craters near the middle of the lower margin of the photograph are Theophilus and Cyrillus. The rim of Theophilus Crater truncates (cuts across) the rim of Cyrillus Crater, indicating that Theophilus is the younger crater. Ejecta from Theophilus may be present in the vicinity of the Apollo 11 landing site. Craters in the vicinity of the landing site include Moltke (the bright rayed crater to the lower right of the arrow), Sabine (left of arrow) and Maskelyne (upper right of arrow).

3-D image - AS10-32-4848 & 4849
(Use 3-D glasses)


This Apollo 10 stereo pair (AS10-32-4848 & 4849) shows the Apollo 11 landing site in the Sea of Tranquility as indicated by the yellow dot. The area immediately around the landing site is flat and devoid of craters and so was considered safe to land on. Elsewhere we see different-sized craters, some crater chains, and a few hills and rilles (long narrow valleys). The large crater at the bottom is Moltke, about 4 miles (6km) in diameter. Below Moltke, the shallow Hypatia rilles that stretch 75 miles (120km) across the lunar surface can be seen.

Lunar Orbiter 2 Images

Lunar Orbiter II image of M. Tranquility
A reduced photograph of a part of Mare Tranquillitatis that is typical of much of the area east and northeast of the Apollo 11 landing site. The largest crater is about 490 m in diameter. (Lunar Orbiter print II-84-H)
Lunar Orbiter II image of Ranger 8 area
In marked contrast is Fig. 2, which shows part of the heavily cratered belt that crosses the Ranger VIII landing area. Besides the largest craters completely shown, 600-1,000 m in diameter, there are numerous craters 100 to more than 300 m in diameter. (Lunar Orbiter print II-71-H)

Lunar Orbiter 4 Images:

Lunar Orbiter 5 Images:

LO5-76-H3, L Site High-Res Vertical View
Views of the Apollo 11 Landing Site - The two groups of irregularly shaped craters north and west of the landing site are secondaries from Sabine Crater. This view was obtained by the unmanned Lunar Orbiter 5 spacecraft in 1967 prior to the Apollo missions to the Moon. The black and white film was automatically developed onboard the spacecraft and subsequently digitized for transmission to Earth. The regularly spaced vertical lines are the result of combining individually digitized 'framelets' to make a composite photograph. and their regularly shaped bright and dark spots are due to non uniform film development.
LO5-76-H3, enlarged
The fresh 180-meter-diameter crater left of the center is West Crater. The landing site is about 60 meters west of 33-meter-diameter Little West Crater. Astronaut Neil Armstrong visited the rim of Little West Crater while astronaut Edwin Aldrin worked around the Lunar Module.

Apollo Images:

AS11-37-5447, Medium Res Vertical
This photograph was taken from the Lunar Module and it includes both the landing site (arrow) and the Command/Service Module (upper right of arrow). The sharp rimmed crater at the lower margin is Moltke. The craters north and west of the landing site are secondary craters resulting from ejecta thrown out of Sabine Crater.


This oblique photograph was taken from the Apollo 11 Lunar Module looking west over Mare Tranquillitatis. The Apollo 11 landing site was to the right of center in this photograph, near the terminator (the transition from day to night). Although there are a number of craters, ridges, grooves, and volcanic channels visible here, the region overall is relatively smooth, which was a primary consideration in its selection as the landing site. In the right foreground, the crater Maskelyne is 23 kilometers in diameter. It is 210 kilometers from the center of Maskelyne to the Apollo 11 landing site.


Another Stereo 3-D RGB version of the Apollo 11 Landing Site


 Larger version of above
 Apollo 11 Landing Site in 3-D, bw version
The Apollo 11 landing site is located on the smooth volcanic plains of southwestern Mare Tranquilitatis.  The landing site is marked by the small green cross.  Comparison of this site with the subsequent landing sites for Apollo's 14, 15, 16, and 17 dramatically illustrates why this site was chosen, namely for its lack of rugged relief.  These views (Hasselblad frames AS10-31-4537 and AS10-31-4539) show an area 25 km across from top to bottom. Because these are hand-held images, the base/height ratio can be estimated only approximately at ~0.6, with a vertical exaggeration of ~3. North is to the top.

 Simulated descent (by Alan Murta)

Apollo 16 Image:

AS16-1389(M), Oblique View of L Site
A later Mission, Apollo 16, Images Area - The bright rays of Moltke Crater (lower right of arrow) are quite prominent in this low-phase-angle photograph. The higher albedo of the highland material, relative to  the dark mare regions, also is evident in this view. Due to the oblique viewing geometry of this photograph, the scale bar is most accurate near the bottom margin of the photograph.

For the latest information and images regarding the area were this
spacecraft landed, go to:
Arago, Section 35 Directory, images & reports

Relevant Sites:
 Apollo 11 (AS-506) Lunar Landing Mission
Apollo 11: The Mission
Apollo 11 Landing Site Overview
 Surface views of the Apollo landing site
JSC Digital Image Collection - AS11
Apollo 11 Metric & Panaramic Photography
 Index of/expmoon/Apollo 11/

This web page was created by Francis Ridge for The Lunascan Project for
Moon Shot
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