New images proof of moon landing

NASA has put to bed conspiracy theories that humans never landed on the moon with the release of the first high resolution images of the lunar surface showing the lander and flags left by astronauts in the 1970s.

The area photographed is the landing spot for the last manned mission to the moon, Apollo 17, which left the lunar surface on December 14, 1972 after more than three days there.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been orbiting the moon since June, has already sent back images of the Apollo 11 landing site as well as others but they were of much lower quality.

In the lower resolution image the lander is clearly visible in the centre of the image with the US flag a small dark patch slightly above. The second higher resolution image shows the entire landing site including the tracks of the rovers and its final resting site as well as the final resting site of scientific equipment.

The European Space Agency, Japan, India, China and the United States have recently mapped and probed the moon's surface as a result of increased interest in our nearest neighbour.

The spike in focus on the moon followed an announcement by former US President George W Bush during his time in office that the United States would return to the moon by 2020.

That looks unlikely as NASA's Constellation Project to land astronauts on the Moon suffers from delays and cutback due to the US recession.