India's first lunar mission has captured images of the landing site of the Apollo 15 craft, debunking theories that the US mission was a hoax, the country's state-run space agency said Wednesday.
"The images captured by a hyper-spectral camera fitted as a part of Chandrayaan-I... has reconfirmed the veracity of the Apollo 15 mission," said Prakash Chauhan, from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
NASA's 12-day Apollo 15 mission in 1971 was the first designed to explore the surface of the moon in great detail and over a long period.
But it and others in the Apollo project, including the Apollo 11 mission in 1969, when astronauts first stepped on the moon, have been the subject of a catalogue of conspiracy theories ever since.
Chauhan said Chandrayaan-I, which India launched late last year, located the Apollo 15 landing site by identifying disturbances on the moon's dark surface.
"The disturbed surface is bright," he said, in a presentation in the western state of Goa, where a conference on space missions is being held.
"Our images also show tracks left behind by the lunar rovers which were used by the astronauts."
US, Japanese and Russian scientists have previously found evidence of Apollo 15's landing site by studying photographs.
Chauhan said Chandrayaan-I's findings were further, "independent corroboration" of the landing, adding to other evidence of the Apollo missions, including photographs and analysis of rock samples.
The images were among 70,000 taken by the Chandrayaan-I craft before the mission was aborted last weekend. Scientists blamed a computer malfunction for cutting communications with the orbiter.
(c) 2009 AFP
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