John Pazmino
  NYSkies Astronomy Inc
 2009 October 9
    There swelled up during 2009 August and September a renewed 
curiosity about the remains of human objects on the Moon. This was 
sparked largely by the impending deliberate impact of LCROSS in crater 
Cabeus A and the photos of Apollo spacecraft taken by LRO in July. 
    When I inquired I found there was no authoritative roster of 
artifacts placed on the Moon! There are articles about the touchdown 
or crash of specific craft and many tables of the selenographic 
location of Apollo landers.
    The table I assembled here banks off of one from Wikipedia and 
supplemented by other sources. It is NOT a sanitized washed thru set 
of data. I discuss the reasons for this situation below, but for now 
the locations given here are well within precision to aim at with home 
telescopes from the ground. At a starviewing session you can explain 
that the scope is centered on the spot of such-&-such spaceprobe. 
Lunar lat-lon 
    It seems natural to establish on the Moon, as a globe, a system of 
latitude and longitude like on Earth. From the early days of 
selenography, maps of the Moon regularly were girded with lat-lon 
lines, by which to scale off the selenographic location of lunar 
    It seemed simple enough once you define the poles and equator of 
the Moon and select a zero point for longitude on that equator. As 
history fell out, selenographers adopted various locations for the 
lunar poles and equator. This resulted in annoyingly different schemes 
of lat-lon. The discrepancies from author to author are slight, not 
enough to mislead a home astronomer, but they are dead dangerous for 
local navigation on the lunar surface. 
    Matters are worse when the author does not state clearly his 
selenographic system, control as its called on Earth, so that a reader 
may make adjustment to some other control.
Surface scale 
    Because the Moon stays about the same distance away from us in a 
nearly circular orbit, angular measures on the lunar ground translate 
into fixed angular extents as seen from Earth. The greatest deviation 
from the mean values is about +/-5%. 
    On the solid ground of the Moon angular distances on it equate to 
linear distances in kilometers. You can relate a feature on the Moon 
with some Earth feature, like a county or state. Many lunar observers 
actually have photocopies of a county or state roadmap to match the 
scale of their lunar atlas for exacta mente this purpose. 
    One surface degree spans pretty nearly 30 kilometers and subtends 
16 arcseconds from Earth. This is near the resolution limit of 
handheld binoculars. 0.1 degree equals quite 3 kilometers or 1.6 
arcsecond. This is the accuracy of the coordinates in the table below 
and is near the resolution limit of a small home telescope. 
    The lunar terminator creeps over the ground at about 1/2 surface 
degree per hour or 15 kilometers. Over a full day, the migration is 
about 12 degrees or 360 kilometers.
    Mind well that foreshortening near the limb of the Moon compresses 
distances radially, in addition to overlapping the landscape features.  
    In all selenographic schemes the lunar latitude is conceptually 
the same. Latitude is the angular distance from the equator to the 
given point, measured in degrees of arc. This is parallel to latitude 
on Earth, with, as example, New York sitting at latitude 40.7 degrees 
north of the equator, The polarity of latitude is, like on Earth, 
denoted by either N/S or +/-. 
    Longitude on the other hand has many dimensions. These include, 
all banked off of a zero meridian in the center of the lunar disc: 
    +/- from 0, thru 90 degree at the mean limb, to 180 at the far 
side central emridian. This is similar to the usual way longitude is 
stated on Earth. The far side meridian corresponds to the 180th 
meridian in the Pacific Ocean. 
    + all around the globe thru 360 degrees. This is uncommon on Earth 
but is easier to use in navigational maths.
    The same as the other two but in the OPPOSITE direction. One 
author will call + to the east while an other will put + to the west. 
    A similar confusion occurs when setting a computer astronomy 
program for your location on Earth. The longitude may be + for E or + 
for W. New York's longitude can be, depending on the instant program, 
+286.1 or -286.1 degrees or +73.9 or -73.9 degrees. If the author is 
vague about his convention, you have to test each one to see which 
works correctly. The wrong longitude will throw your sky map out of 
synch with your local time. 
East and west 
    The use of E/W can be just as miserably confusing. This comes 
about from the two distinct disciplines studying the Moon, astronomy 
and astronautics. The astronomer looks at the Moon like a disc on the 
celestial sphere. The directions on this disc match those on the sky. 
    The Moon circulates by diurnal motion from east to west. She 
migrates thru the zodiac from west to east. Therefore, with north at 
the top, east is at the left and west is at the right. 
    The astronautical method treats the Moon like a globe in space. 
With north up, east is to the right and west is to the left, like on 
an Earth globe. The situation is sketched here. 
                    /       \ 
                  /           \ 
  astronomical E |  lunar disc | astronomical W 
 astronautical W | lunar globe | astronautical E 
                  \           / 
                    \       / 
    You may read in one work that crater Grimaldi is near the eastern 
limb and in an other work it's near the western limb. Mare Orientale 
(Eastern Sea) is near either the eastern or western limb. You must 
know what the author means by east and west. 
    A lesser hiccup is the inversion of the Moon from the astronomer's 
convention of south at the top to the astronaut's north at top. By now 
astronomers are fluent with both orientations. Astronomy books may 
have the Moon illustrations in either orientation. Computer programs 
for lunar astronomy generally allow the display in either polarity. 
    If this is not a bona fide word yet, now with lunar explorations 
ramping up, it should be one. It's the methods and techniques of 
determining the selenographic coordinates of points on the Moon. Its 
analog on Earth is, ahem, geometry.  Traditionally we got a coordinate 
by banking off of nearby features of accepted location.
    This is like lining up various shoreline features from a boat and 
laying out the boat's location on a marine navigation map. It is also 
like the surveying of property by aligning with adjacent lands, the 
metes-&-bounds method. 
    This method works when the view of the feature is more or less 
vertical, like in the middle of the lunar disc. When this is tried on 
points around the limb, severe forshortening and overlapping of 
landscape features makes confident measurements really tough. The Mare 
Orientale syndrome can set in. 
    An other problem arose with the global view of the Moon from 
spacecraft. The Moon is not a globe but a triaxial figure with the 
long axis aiming toward Earth. Along this axis, from Earth's view, the 
Moon does look pretty circular and, by inference, globular. Since all 
of the millennia of topographic mapping experience we enjoy is based 
on an awfully spherical Earth, we had a lot of new learning when now 
confronted with a triaxial ellipsoid. 
    A gross example we faced was for the irregular moons of other 
planets and for asteroids. They are no way near 'round' for any 
conventional lat-lon system. In the stead an ENCLOSING sphere is set 
around the body and its topography is radially projected outward onto 
it. The coordinates are taken off of the projected image of the body 
on this outer sphere. 
    There is no 'sea level' on the Moon, in spite of the recent 
confirmation of finding some water molecules up there. Even on Earth, 
the 'sea level' varies from place to place due to Earth rotation. The 
centrifugal and Coriolis forces distort the level so there are several 
base elevations in use from country to country. This is why when you 
initialize your GPS navigator, you must select the sea level, datum as 
its called, to obtain correct elevations. 
    We can ignore absolute elevations, above the appropriate sea 
level, because we are concerned with pieces of spacecaft on the 
ground. The local elevation is zero, even it the pieces sit in a deep 
basin or on a high mountain. 
    In engineering on Earth, we are almost always dealing with 
relative elevations, except for structures actually at the sea like 
breakwaters or dikes. A dam crest amy be noted on its plan at 
elevation 237.8 meter, but this does not mean the dam is that tall 
from its base or from the river bed. 
    This number is used to look after the water level behind the dam, 
which ideally must stay below the crest. Water spilled over the crest 
is lost for electric produvtion and water supply, for example. 
    Seeing the location of a remains when the territory is in profile, 
around the lunar limb can be tricky. The selenographic lat-lon is no 
longer a point on the lunar disc but a line with radial extent. We may 
have to inspect the floor of a deep crater or the slope of a tall 
mountain along that line. 
    With no sea level as such, selenographers adopted various datums, 
all happily true spheres. They are based on the idea of building a 
model of the Moon from clay. Start with a globe of wood and lay clay 
on it to sculpt the lunar topography. To avoid digging into the wood 
globe, the arbor as it may be called, to represent low topography, the 
globe is small enough to accommodate the lowest depths expected on the 
    With the Moon a three-way ellipsoid, some parts register insanely 
high elevations, requiring thicker clay to model. Other areas have 
only shallow elevation, for representing with thin clay. 
    The trouble is that over the years various radii and centering of 
this arbor sphere were used, defined from different physical concepts. 
Elevations from one source can be far off from those of an other. The 
mountain was not so badly measured. It's merely measured from a 
different depth under it. 
    Relative elevations, banked off of a surrounding flat area or 
particular landscape feature, are far easier to determine. Much of the 
faculty to measure relative elevation, the relief profile, comes from 
the lunar libration. Since we can not arbitrarily shift our viewpoint, 
as we can do on Earth by going to a new spot to take measurement, we 
exploit the natural shift of the entire landscape of the Moon thru its 
    Libration is the wobble, entirely apparent, of the lunar globe to 
tilt it north-south or east-west. This makes our viewpoint shift by 
the equal degree over the Moon and displacing topographic features in 
perspective. The amount of shift is 6ish degrees in any direction but 
that's enough to build a local relief of a small section of the Moon 
to amazingly good accuracy. 
    Relief is important in case the remains are hidden by crater walls 
or valleys or laid out in the open on plateaus or highland.
Current efforts
    There are a few astronomers and space scientists engaged in 
locating spacecraft remains on the Moon for several reasons. One is 
make them targets for later landings, to document them or bring back 
pieces for study back on Earth. An other is to define the remains as 
cultural places to protect against molest from later explorations. 
    The work is tough going due to the haphazard way coordinates were 
determined in the earlier years of lunar exploration. In some cases 
they were picked off of a full-Moon map of the Moon under a grease pen 
mark. In others they were the intended target point with no indication 
if the craft actually landed there or some remote else where point. 
    Many spacrcraft are lost on the Moon. This happens when a probe 
loses signal and is no longer tracked or controlled. It could be 
captured by lunar gravity in a chaotic manner. At some later date its 
trajectory intersected the lunar ground, causing a crash. 
List of human artifacts 
    The list here is based on one from Wikipedia with substantial 
additions and modifications. Be aware that this is NOT 'the official 
list'. On the other hand the locations are close enough to point out 
in a telescope. I rounded extra decimals of coordinate to 0.1 degree 
to recognize their overall approximation. 
    The longitudes are in astronautical E/W mode with east toward 
Neper crater, on the sunward limb for an evening crescent Moon. 
Longitudes greater than 90 are for objects on the lunar far side. Only 
one, for Lunar Orbiter 3, is close enough to the limb to rotate to the 
front side by libration. 
    Of all the artifacts on the Moon today the only ones still working 
are the passive retroflectors left by Lunokhod and Apollo. They today 
are in active use for monitoring the Moon's wiggles and shudders and 
its gradual recession from Earth. 
    The Moon is LOWER in mass after four decades, in 2009, of human 
artifacts placed there! The total mass, according to Wikipedia, is 
about 176 tons. The Moon rocks returned by Apollo and Luna amount to 
only 302 kilograms. 
    The name of the craft differs with sources. The Apollo 11 lunar 
module can be called Eagle. Lunokhod 1 may be Luna 17. Kaguya may be 
    The date for a deliberate hard or soft landing is a firm date, 
often widely publicized. Those for a fall may be guesstimates because 
the body may have already lost control and tracking. No date is given 
for a lost object that presumably fell to the Moon but was never 
observed or planed to do so. 
    The mass, in kilograms, of the body is cited in various ways. It 
can be the total mass of the body that eventually lands on the Moon, 
including extra fuel, cargo and riders, covers and hoods that are 
jettisoned separately en route to the Moon. It could be the final 
mass, calculated from fuel burn, removed cargo, transferred crew, 
discarded parts. Expect this number to vary from other sources, which 
often aren't too clear about what they cite. 
    Under 'Stat'  I note: 
    'hard' for an intentional crash. The destroyed craft may be debris 
scattered around the impact point 
    'soft' for an intentional touchdown with a working craft. It may 
later return to Earth with or without leaving pieces behind 
    'fall' for uncontrolled crash by a craft that died in service near 
the Moon or was abandoned after it finished its mission 
    'lost' for craft with unknown landing location 
    The lat-lon WILL differ from source to source for the reasons 
noted in previous sections. The ones here are NOT 'official', but they 
are close enough, within the resolution of small home telescopes, to 
point out the sites. 
 Object     From  Landed      Mass    Stat Lat    Lon     Notes 
 ---------- ----- ----------- ------- ---- ------ ------- -----
 Luna 2     USSR  1959 Sep 13   390.2 hard 29o1'N   0o0'W 
 Ranger 4   USA   1962 Apr 26   331   hard 12.9oS 129.1oW 
 Ranger 6   USA   1964 Feb  2   381   hard  9.4oN  21.5oE 
 Ranger 7   USA   1964 Jul 31   365.7 hard 10.7oS  20.7oW 
 Luna 5     USSR  1965 May 12  1474   fall  1.6oS  25o  W 
 Luna 7     USSR  1965 Oct 12  1504   fall  9.8oN  47.8oW 
 Luna 8     USSR  1965 Dec  6  1550   fall  9.1oN  63.3oW 
 Ranger 8   USA   1965 Feb 20   367   hard  2.7oN  24.8oE 
 Ranger 9   USA   1965 Mar 24   367   hard 12.9oS   2.4oW 
  Luna 9     USSR  1966 Feb  3  1580   soft  7.1oN  64.4oW 
 Luna 10    USSR  1966 ---     1600   lost   ---          1 
 Luna 11    USSR  1966 ---     1640   lost   ---          1 
 Luna 12    USSR  1966 ---     1670   lost   ---          1 
 Luna 13    USSR  1966 Dec 24  1700   soft 18.9oN  63.1oW 
 Surveyor 1 USA   1966 Jun  2   270   soft  2.5oS  43.2oW 
 Lunr Orb 1 USA   1966 Oct 29   386   fall  6.4oN 160.7oE 
 Surveyor 2 USA   1966 Sep 22   292   fall  4.0oS  11.0oW 
 Lunr Orb 2 USA   1967 Oct 11   385   fall  2.9oN 119.1oE 
 Lunr Orb 3 USA   1967 Oct 10   386   fall 14.3oN  92.7oW 
 Surveyor 3 USA   1967 Apr 20   281   soft  3.0oS  23.3oW 2 
 Lunr Orb 4 USA   1967 Oct 31   386   lost   ---          1  
 Surveyor 4 USA   1967 Jul 17   283   fall  0.5oN   1.4oW 
 IMP-E      USA   1967 ---      104.3 lost   ---          1 
 Lunr Orb 5 USA   1968 Jan 31   386   fall  2.8oS  83.1oW 
 Surveyor 5 USA   1967 Sep 11   281   soft  1.4oN  23.2oE 
 Surveyor 6 USA   1967 Nov 10   282   soft  0.5oN   1.4oW 
 Surveyor 7 USA   1968 Jan 10   290   soft 40.9oS  11.5oW 
 Luna 14    USSR  1968 ---     1670   lost   ---          1 
 Ap10 Ascnt USA   1969 ---     2211   lost   ---          1, 10 
 Luna 15    USSR  1969 Jul 20  2718   lost   ---          1
 Apollo 11  USA   1969 Jul 20  2034   soft  0.7 N  23.5oE 
 Ap11 Ascnt USA   1969 ---     2184   lost   ---          3, 10 
 Apollo 12  USA   1969 Nov 18  2211   soft  3.0oS  23.4oW 
 Ap12 Ascnt USA   1969 Nov 20  2164   hard  3.9oS  21.2oW 10 
 Luna 16    USSR  1970 Sep 20  5727   soft  0.7oS  56.3oE 3 
 Lunokhod 1 USSR  1970 Nov 17  5600   soft 38.3oN  35.0oW 4 
 Ap13 SIVB  USA   1970 Apr 14 13454   hard  2.8oS  27.9oW 5 
 Luna 18    USSR  1971 Sep 11  5600   soft  3.6oN  56.5oE 9 
 Luna 19    USSR  1971 ---     5600   lost   ---          1 
 Ap14 SIVB  USA   1971 Feb  4 14016   hard  8.1oS  26.0oW 
 Apollo 14  USA   1971 Feb  5  2144   soft  3.6oS  17.5oW 
 Ap14 Ascnt USA   1971 Feb  7  2132   hard  3.4oS  19.7oW 3, 10 
 Ap15 SIVB  USA   1971 Jul 29 14036   hard  1.5oS  11.8oW 
 Apollo 15  USA   1971 Jul 30  2809   soft 26.1oN   3.6oE 
  Lunr Rover USA   1971 Jul 30   462   soft 26.1oN   3.6oE 
 Ap15 Ascnt USA   1971 Aug  3  2132   hard 26.4oN   0.3oE 3, 10 
 Ap15 sat   USA   1971 ---       36   lost   ---          1 
 Luna 20    USSR  1972 Feb 21  5727   soft  3.6oN  56.5oE 4 
 Ap16 SIVB  USA   1972 Apr 19 14002   hard  1.3oN  23.8oW 
 Apollo 16  USA   1972 Apr 20  2765   soft  9.0oS  15.5oE 
 Lunr Rover USA   1972 Apr 20   462   soft  9.0oS  15.5oE 
 Ap16 Ascnt USA   1972 ---     2138   lost   ---          3, 10 
 Ap 16 sat  USA   1972 ---       36   lost   ---          1 
 Ap17 SIVB  USA   1972 Dec 10 13960   hard  4.2oS  12.3oW 
 Apollo 17  USA   1972 Dec 11  2798   soft 20.2oN  30.8oE 
 Lunr Rover USA   1972 Dec 11   462   soft 20.2oN  30.8oW 
 Ap17 Ascnt USA   1972 Dec 15  2150   hard 20.0oN  30.5oE 3, 10 
 Lunokhod 2 USSR  1973 Jan 15  4850   soft 25.9oN  30.5oE 6 
 RAE-B      USA   1973 ---      328   lost   ---          1 
 Luna 22    USSR  1974 ---     4000   lost   ---          1 
 Luna 23    USSR  1974 Nov  6  5600   soft 12o  N  62o  E 9 
 Luna 24    USSR  1976 Aug 18  5800   soft 12.8oN  62.2oE 4 
 Hagoromo   Japan 1990 ---       12   lost   ---          7 
 Hiten      Japan 1993 Apr 10   143   hard 34.3oS  55.6oE 
 Prospector USA   1999 Jul 31   126   hard 87.7oS  42.1oE 
 SMART-1    ESA   2006 Sep  3   307   hard 34.4oS  46.2oW 
 MIP        India 2008 Nov 14    35   hard 89.9oS   0.0oE 8 
 Okina      Japan 2009 Feb 12    53   fall 28.2oN 201.0oE 
 Chang'e-1  China 2009 Mar  1  2000   hard  1.5oS  52.4oE 
 Kaguya     Japan 2009 Jun 10  1984   hard 65.5oS  80.4oE 
 Centaur    USA   2009 Oct  9  2000   hard 84.7oS  48.7oW 11
 LCROSS     USA   2009 Oct  9   880   hard 84.7oS  48.7oW 11
   Most of these notes accompany the Wikipedia list and are helpful 
for understanding some of its entries. I simplified some wording and 
added a few more notes.
     1 - Spacecraft was in lunar orbit after mission was completed. It 
is assumed to decay from orbit and crash into the Moon at an unknown 
location. 'Lost' is not the same as a mission failure!
     2 - Apollo 12 returned about 10kg of Surveyor-3's landing mass of 
302kg to study the effects of long term exposure to the space 
     3 - The ascent stage of Apollo 10 was commanded to leave lunar 
orbit and enter solar orbit. 
    The Apollo 11 ascent stage was left in orbit. Its orbit decayed 
and it crashed onto the moon at an unknown location. 
    The Apollo 16 ascent stage failed to crash onto Moon when 
commanded. It decayed from orbit at a later date and crashed at an 
unknown location. 
    The ascent stages of Apollo 12, 14, 15, and 17 were deliberately 
crashed onto the Moon. 
    Apollo 13's complete Apollo Lunar Module reentered Earth's 
atmosphere after serving as a lifeboat during the aborted mission. 
     4 - Luna spacecraft mass is for both ascent and descent stages, 
though only the descent stage was left on the moon. 
     5 - The S-IVB impacted the lunar surface at 20:10 EST on April 
14 at a speed of 259 meters per second, 137.1 kilometers from the 
Apollo 12 seismometer. 
     6 - Lander and rover weighed 1814 kg. The rest assumed to have 
decayed in orbit and impacted the moon. 
     7 - Hagoromo was injected into lunar orbit in 1990, assumed to 
decay from orbit and crash at an unknown location. 
     8 - Moon Impact Probe was crash-landed on the Shackleton crater 
by the Chandrayaan-1 orbiting spacecraft. 
     9 - Craft was damaged during landing and could not return a 
    10 - Some sources list the crashes of the 'lunar module', which 
destroyed the craft. The part that crashed was the ascent stage, 
carrying the astronauts back to the Command Module. This, the ascent 
stage of the Lunar Module, was set free to fall to the Moon after its 
crew moved out of it. 
    11 - Centaur was the 2nd stage rocket of the LCROSS and LRO 
spaceprobes. LRO went into lunar orbit on 2009 Jun 23. Centaur was 
deliberately crashed into crater Cabeus to create a debris cloud. 
LCROSS examined the impact plume for water ice, then crashed several 
minutes later at nearly the same spot. Original target was Cabeus A 
crater, changed to Cabeus. 
Apollo sites
    The enduring fascination of the Apollo missions generated intense 
desire to pinpoint exactly the landing sites of each flight. In July 
2009 the new Lunar Reconnassaince Orbiter took pictures of the sites, 
confirming their reality. Because these were test pictures during the 
shakedown phase of the LRO mission, there was not yet an improvement 
in their selenographic locations. 
    The initial pictures were of 'low' resolution, about 2 meters. 
This was good enough to identify the larger pieces of each flight and 
suggest smaller items. Production pictures starting in late 2009 will 
deliver the full detail of about 80 centimeters. 
    The Apollo coordinates here come from NASA with its explanation. 
NASA has no real reason to improve these, except as a collateral 
benefit from the LRO data, and considers these the best available set 
of Apollo coordinates there is: 
 = = = = = 
    'The longitude and latitude values associated with those points 
depend on our evolving understanding of the shape of the Moon and have 
been subject to revision. In the following table, the LM coordinates 
listed in the second and third columns have been adapted from a table 
in Zimbelman's paper. These values agree with those given in the 
various Mission Reports issued shortly after each flight. 
    'The values in the fourth and fifth columns come from a 1987 paper 
by Davies et al as listed on the National Space Science and Data 
Center webpage. 
    'The Apollo era values were derived, in the case of Apollo 15, 
with reference to Rima Hadley Lunar Photomap. 
 = = = = = 
               Zimbelman's coords      Davies's coords
               Lat deg N  Lon deg E    Lat deg N  Lon deg E 
 ------------  ---------  ---------    ---------  ---------
 Apollo 11LRRR    -          -          +0.67337   +23.47293 
 Lunar Module   +0.6875   +23.4333      +0.67409   +23.47298 
 Apollo 12 ALSEP  -          -          -3.01084   -23.42456 
 Lunar Module   -3.1975   -23.3856      -3.01381   -23.41930 
 Apollo 14 LRRR   -          -          -3.64422   -17.47880 
 ALSEP            -          -          -3.64450   -17.47753 
 Lunar Module   -3.6733   -17.4653      -3.64544   -17.47139 
  Apollo 15 LRRR    -         -         +26.13333    +3.62837 
 ALSEP             -         -         +26.13407    +3.62981 
 Lunar Module   +26.1008   +3.6527     +26.13224    +3.63400 
 Apollo 16 ALSEP   -         -          -8.97577   +15.49649 
 Lunar Module    -8.9913  +15.5144      -8.97341   +15.49859 
 Apollo 17 ALSEP   -         -         +20.18935   +30.76796 
 Lunar Module   -20.1653  +30.7658     +20.18809   +30.77475 
    The notion that space travel is so exact and precise a discipline 
is false, to be gentle about life. In what looks like so simple a task 
to capture the coordinates of a spacecraft sitting on the Moon there 
are many problems. Unless there is a compelling reason to determine 
'definitive' values, it is unlikely the effort will be expended any 
time soon.