An ASU team uses high-resolution images to re-create what the moon landing looked like from Neil Armstrong’s vantage point in a newly released NASA video.
Arizona State University/NASA

A movie camera mounted in astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s window captured the only footage of the Apollo 11 lunar module as it landed on the moon. 

Now, a team led by Arizona State University Professor Mark Robinson has re-created what Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong would have seen. Armstrong was in the lunar module with Aldrin, but his view wasn’t captured on film.

NASA released the video this week to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the moon walk on Saturday. The video shows a split-screen: On one side is the actual footage from Aldrin’s window; on the other is the re-created Armstrong view.

Robinson’s team used high-resolution images taken from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera to simulate what Armstrong would have seen during the famous landing. Robinson is the camera’s chief scientist.

The 3-minute video begins as the Eagle, the mission’s lunar module, makes its final approach to the moon. The landing area is strewn with boulders.  Armstrong is worried about the landing site and takes over manual controls, searching for a safer spot. He is so busy navigating that he doesn’t have time to alert mission control about the hazards.

He later said landing was his biggest concern because of all the unknowns. 

In the video, audio from the crew and mission control guides viewers through the final moments before landing.

The Eagle had only about 30 seconds of fuel left when it landed at 4:17 p.m. Eastern Time on July 20, 1969. 

Armstrong utters the now-famous words: “The Eagle has landed,” and mission control begins celebrating.

A controller in Houston tells the crew, “Roger, Tranquility. We copy you on the ground. You’ve got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot.”

The rest is history.

Reach the reporter at [email protected] or 602-444-8072. Follow her on Twitter @anneryman.

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