Making Sense of Science
October 2009
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Were the Moon Landings Faked?

We've all encountered a know-it-all at parties or on the internet who says, "You know, people never actually walked on the moon,  It was all filmed on a Hollywood set."  It is clear that these people can only feel special by having unique knowledge that sets themselves apart.  It is not possible to talk them out of this position, nor is it possible to win an argument.  What is possible is to share with you the evidence for the Apollo moon missions so that you can decide for yourself whether to listen to these conspiracy theories or not.

Most "faked moon landing" theories begin and end by pointing out "deficiencies" in the Apollo photographs.  Mostly it boils down to, "you can tell it was staged because of the lighting," and "where are all the stars?"

Very briefly, the photos indicate that there was exactly one point source of light, and that the light was very bright.  A close analysis of the video shows that it was in a very low-pressure and low-gravity environment.  (For example, watch the dust from footsteps.  No air = no dust clouds.  Low g = things fall slowly.) But this alone does not prove it was on the moon.  They COULD have built a vacuum chamber the size of a gymnasium and dropped it out of a really really big airplane to simulate low gravity.

And the stars?  This question can only be asked honestly by someone who has never taken a photo outdoors at night.  If they had, they would know how hard it is to actually photograph stars.  With a normally-exposed foreground, it is simply impossible.   The fact that no stars appear in the moon landing photos is actually evidence that they are genuine.  However, it is not proof because there are plenty of other ways to take photographs with a black background.

Read this extended newsletter version for more information on moon landing photos.  Meanwhile, let's find out what you would have to do if you were NASA and you wanted to fake the moon landings.

Moon Rocks.  Fabricate more than 380 kg of minerals, rocks and dust that are unlike anything found on Earth and that are older than the oldest known Earth rocks.  Make the fakes so good that they fool every last geological, minerological, chemical, forensic and nuclear expert from all over the world who examines them.  The fakes must continue to fool them for the next 40 years as ever newer  technology and analysis techniques are invented that were never dreamed of in 1969.  No evidence of the manufacture must ever be found in the materials.

Also, make sure the fakes are identical to actual moon rocks that the Russians obtain from later robotic sample-return missions.  One problem: in 1969 nobody has any idea what moon rocks actually are.  Your only option is to go to the moon and get some moon rocks.

Eyewitnesses.  Convince over 600,000 people that they actually carried out these missions.  This includes the astronauts themselves, of course.  For the next 40 years not one engineer or techician will come forward to claim it was in the least bit faked.  Also, the Soviet spies watching NASA's every move must be completely, totally convinced without the slightest doubts.  How?  I don't know.  Try hypnosis, maybe.  Or drugs - that was a thing in the '60's.

More Eyewitnesses.  Radio Astronomers all over the world will produce solid evidence that they intercepted radio waves originating from the surface of the moon and containing man-made data and human speech.  Radar stations all over the  planet must be able to report that they tracked the Apollo vehicles orbiting the earth after launch, then traversing the space between earth and the moon.  Some say that to fake all this might require that you actually carry out a manned mission to the moon.  Nonsense!  Just send some actors with a radio in a small capsule up to the moon and . . . wait, no.  I guess that would end up being a manned moon landing, too.

Scientific Knowledge.  For 8 years following the last "fake" Apollo mission, tracking stations all over the globe must continue to receive radio signals from the moon containing up to 1 mega-bit per day of scientific data.  Readings from lunar seismometers, magnetic field sensors, soil thermal conductivity probes, solar wind and radiation detectors and several others will be analysed by independent experts from every country.  Obviously all this data is going to have to be fabricated.  It will need to contain information about the moon that nobody in 1969 had any idea of, and which will be verified later by independent means.  You may need to carry out a scientific fact-finding mission to the moon in order to learn everything you'd need to know.

Oh wait - NASA already did that.  They called it Apollo.

Some of the most interesting evidence for the 1969 moon landings comes just this year.  In June 2009 the Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter (LRO) was launched.  In July it took photos of the Apollo 11 landing site and confirmed there is a man-made object there.  Other pictures of the Apollo 14 site show something even more unique - something that can be found on only one other body in this Solar System.

LRO image of the Apollo 14 landing site.




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