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Apollo Traverse Maps Superimposed on Terrestrial Sites

Copyright 2012-15 byThomas Schwagmeier and Eric M. Jones. All rights reserved.
Last revised 4 January 2015.

Lunar Map showing the landing sites

Lunar nearside map with the Apollo landing sites marked. 

The Moon is a big place.  The nearside has a surface area (19 million square kilometers) about twice that of the United States (9.8 million sq km).  The Apollo landing sites are all on the nearside in an area from lunar longitiude of 23.4 W (Apollo 12) to  30.8 E (Apollo 17) and lunar latitude from 9.0 S (Apollo 16) to 26.1 N (Apollo 15).  The area within that box is about 1.7 million square kilometers.

An area of similar size in the United States includes portions of New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri. The following composite map shows the distribution of Apollo Landing Sites on a Google Earth map of that area.

            Site on a US map

Note the 600-km scale at the lower left of the US map detail.  The superimposed locations range from Apollo 12 in far southwestern New Mexico; Apollo 14 near El Paso; Apollo 16 near Houston; Apollo 11 in southerwestern Arkansas; Apollo 17 near St. Louis; to Apollo 15 in Furnas County, Nebraska.  Surrounding the central map (click on the image for a full version) are Google Moon details showing the traverses at each of the sites.  A scale is provided at the lower left in each detail.  For the Apollo 15, 16, and 17 details, the scale is 8 km, just over one percent of the scale on the US detail.  The Apollo 11, 12, and 14 scales are much smaller. Collectively, these maps demonstrate how widely spread the sites were and how little of the Moon was actually visited by the LM crews.

Apollo 11:
Baseball and Football (Soccer) Comparisons

On this first landing mission, NASA planned a brief, conservative, 2-1/2-hr EVA, with the crew staying close to the LM at all times. No one wanted to take on any unnecessary risks.

Apollo 11 and a Baseball Diamond

Apollo 11 on a Soccer Pitch

The traverses in the Baseball and Soccer comparisons are based on high-resolution photos from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera.  The location where Armstrong took a panorama on the rim of Little West Crater is derived from a 2012 photogrammetric analysis. With thanks to Joe O'Dea for suggesting the soccer comparison.

After Armstrong and Aldrin showed that moving around on the lunar surface was not difficult, the other five crews who landed on the Moon ventured much farther from their LMs.  The illustrations that follow show the various traverse maps superimposed on simplified maps of terrestrial locations, providing another way to judge how large an area each of the crews explored.

Apollo 12 in Rome

Apollo 12 in Rome

The Apollo 12 traverse map superimposed on a simplified map of Rome.  Note that Surveyor Crater is slightly larger than the Coliseum.
(Click on the image for a larger version.)

Apollo 12 at the Vatican

A12 traverses at
          the vatican

The Apollo 12 traverse map superimposed on a simplified map of the Vatican.  (Click on the image for a larger version.)

Apollo 14 visits Washington, D.C.

A14 route
          compared to Lincoln Memorial to White House

Apollo 14 - Washington D.C. comparison with the LM at the Lincoln Memorial and the center of Cone Crater on E street between the South Lawn of the White House and the Ellipse.  The inset at the bottom shows elevation above the LM along the traverse path.  At Station C near the rim of Cone, Shepard and Mitchell were about 90 meters above the LM. There are no significant elevation differences along the D.C. route.  (Click on the image for a larger version.)

The last three crews each took a Lunar Roving Vehicle to the Moon, giving them far more mobility and allowing them to carry much more equipment and samples.

Apollo 15 Takes Manhattan

Apollo 15 traverse map superimposed on Manhattan map

Apollo 16 visits Sydney

A16 traverse on map of Sydney

Apollo 17 in Paris

Apollo 17 Paris

Apollo 17 traverse of Paris, with the LM at Notre Dame, Station 2 on the le St. Germain near the monument dedicated to artist Jean Dubuffet, and Station 4 at the Eiffel Tower. (Click on the image for a larger version.)