The highest-ever resolution aerial views of the Apollo landing sites will be made publicly available by NASA today. The photos have been returned by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), launched in June to produce maps of the Moon’s surface with the highest resolution yet. The agency will release the images at noon Eastern Daylight Time and they will also be holding a teleconference at 2.00 p.m. to discuss future plans for the LRO mission.

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter was launched on 19 June with the mission of gathering a variety of data on the lunar environment. It will have seven on-board instruments, including a camera that will map the Moon with a resolution of about 50 cm. NASA hope this will help them in preparing for a new generation of longer-duration manned expeditions to the moon.

LRO will spend at least a year in a low polar orbit approximately 50 km above the lunar surface, while its seven instruments find safe landing sites. Its objectives include the location of potential resources, characterization of the radiation environment, and the testing of new technology.

"Accomplishing these significant milestones moves us closer to our goals of preparing for safe human return to the moon, mapping the moon in unprecedented detail, and searching for resources," said LRO Project Scientist Richard Vondrak of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.