NASA’s hi-res footage of a ‘moon buggy’ shows space exploration in stunning color

Emerald Pellot

NASA released surreal footage from the Apollo Space Program of the 1960s and ’70s. The stunning, high-resolution visuals give a closer look at a Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), nicknamed a “moon buggy,” traversing the moon’s surface. The moon buggy was the last NASA vehicle to visit Earth’s satellite.

The video, which is in color, shows an astronaut cruising around the soft lunar soil in the LRV. The pitch-black sky against the illuminated surface is surreal. At one point, the perspective changes and we get a view from the front of the buggy. It reveals some of the hills and valleys throughout the largely homogenous terrain.

Apollo 15 was the first mission to use the LRV in 1971. The lightweight, battery-powered vehicle was engineered to function in the low-gravity vacuum of the moon. Before the LRVs, astronauts could only complete a third of the work during lunar voyages. Astronauts needed a vehicle to expand the range of exploration once landed and in 1969, Boeing was contracted to make the vehicle, which took only 17 months to complete.

While it’s frame referenced a dune buggy or golf cart, it was a technological feat at the time. The LRV could travel 10 miles per hour, carry four times its own weight, had a color television camera to transmit footage via satellite and “special piano-wire-mesh-like” wheels to function on the moon’s unique terrain. It was devised to withstand temperatures of negative 200 degrees Fahrenheit and more than 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

The legacy of the LRV, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, is up for the taking, literally. When the Apollo program ended, NASA left the LRVs parked on the moon’s surface for whoever would return.

If you enjoyed this story, check out the best photos of Earth ever taken from space.

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