This Sunday, December 11th, marks 44 years since the last Moon landings. Conspiracy theorists have thought of everything possible to disprove work by NASA. Here are some of the common arguments debunked.
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I made the mistake of talking to a ‘Flat-Earther’ this weekend and he gave me some pretty strange explanations for the way things are in the world. I asked why we don’t fall off the end but he couldn’t answer me. He also explained that it was impossible for us to have gone to the moon and that the landings were definitely a hoax. He’d certainly watched a documentary or 2 because he had all the standard arguments, so I decided to do a little research and try to debunk them once and for all.
The flag wouldn’t wave on the Moon because there is no atmosphere.
When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set up the flag for the famous footage, the flag appears to be waving in a non-existent lunar breeze. The flag wouldn’t wave, but then it also would stay completely still. Experts have said that the flag isn’t waving; it’s actually swinging.
They had a lot of trouble actually getting the flagpole upright when they first wanted to take the footage. They went down a few inches into the lunar surface, then hit something pretty solid and couldn’t get the flag to stay upright; it might have no atmosphere, but the moon does have a little bit of gravity. Whilst battling to get the flag upright, they would have disturbed the flag and caused movement that would have very slowly stopped.
“During a pause in experiments, Neil suggested we proceed with the flag. It took both of us to set it up and it was nearly a disaster.” – Buzz Aldrin
The Moon has no atmosphere; so where are the stars in the photo?
I am no professional photographer, but I have asked a few astronomer buddies and a few camera enthusiasts who gave me a similar answer. The short answer on this is that it’s all about the focus. The astronauts recorded their experience on different types of cameras, with one being a Hasselblad 500 EL which was attached to their suits. They had to be setup correctly in order for the photos to develop correctly; remember this was almost half a century ago. A lot of training was provided to the astronauts and they took some remarkable shots of the lunar surface in mostly 70mm detail.
It was daytime on the Moon surface when the astronauts were conducting EVA’s; a full day on the Moon actually takes around a month. Every walk on the Moon’s surface, in fact, took place on the side facing the Earth which meant the Sun was in the sky to light everything. So, even though an atmosphere was not present to block out the stars, the cameras would still have been exposed for long periods to a bright landscape. In effect, they wanted to get photos of themselves on the lunar surface, not photos of stars that we could easily see from Earth. If they had wanted to capture the stars in their photos, they would have been able to. But, the surface would have been blurry and this would have defeated the object of going to the Moon. Cameras, especially those in the 1960’s and early 1970’s simply cannot adjust in the same way that our eyes do, and you can test this yourself outside at night
With no air to scatter light, you shouldn’t be able to see things in the shadows.
Whilst it’s true that light on Earth is scattered in different directions by the atmosphere, which allows us to see things that aren’t being directly illuminated by the sun, light can still be reflected on the lunar surface. Shadows in space can be seriously dark, but light can still reflect from the lunar surface and therefore, the photos of Buzz coming down the stairs still in fairly good light is not proof of a hoax.
Conspiracy theorists will argue that this is proof of alternative lighting, but it is simply reflections from the surface of the Moon. If you need proof of the Moon’s reflectivity, look up at the sky this evening. It is pretty dark in color, but shines very bright in the sky.
The shadows were uneven.
Tin-Foil hat wearing conspiracy theorist will have you believe that uneven shadows mean alternative lighting sources. In fact, many experiments have been conducted and prove that uneven shadows can simply be a result of uneven terrain. The moon has very few flat areas and shadows would be pretty skewered.
Space radiation would have killed the astronauts.
Many people talk about the Van Allen Belts without actually knowing anything about the Van Allen Belts. Nobody contests that radiation is an extremely dangerous factor in space exploration. Nobody denies that enough radiation can damage the cells and DNA of an astronaut that is exposed for too long. As we plan 6 month journeys to Mars, this becomes a serious issue. The Apollo astronauts were not on a year-long journey, and spent just around a week at a time in space. Concentrated particles from the Sun, commonly known as the Van Allen Belts were passed through extremely quickly by the Apollo ship.
“The van Allen belts are regions above the Earth’s surface where the Earth’s magnetic field has trapped particles of the solar wind. An unprotected man would indeed get a lethal dose of radiation, if he stayed there long enough. Actually, the spaceship traveled through the belts pretty quickly, getting past them in an hour or so. There simply wasn’t enough time to get a lethal dose, and, as a matter of fact, the metal hull of the spaceship did indeed block most of the radiation.”
We didn’t have the technology to do it.
This argument doesn’t even have any merit. It is true that we now have smartphones with the same computing power as the Lunar module, but they didn’t necessarily need smart computers to achieve their goals. Their goal was to get an astronaut to the moon, and keep him alive long enough to have a walk around. Thousands of the brightest scientists in the world worked on the project and found ingenious ways to get past the basic problems.
Didn’t Stanley Kubrick admit to doing it for NASA?
“I perpetrated a huge fraud on the American public, which I am now about to detail, involving the United States government and NASA, that the moon landings were faked, that the moon landings ALL were faked and that I was the person who filmed it.” – Purportedly what Stanley Kubrick said.
Unfortunately for the hoaxers, the unedited footage was released and it clearly isn’t even Stanley Kubrick. The actor was even called Tom by the interviewer at one point, and coached in what to say.
So why haven’t we been back?
This is more of a political question than a scientific one. We went to the Moon in order to win the space race and beat the Soviet Union. But, these efforts cost a huge chunk of cash and the public interest waned after NASA completed its objective. We saw the Moon up close and we conquered it; there was no need to spend billions going back, considering the limited gains. There were no resources on the Moon that we could have harvested at that time.
There are plan to head back to the Moon and conduct further testing, but why risk sending a human when you can send a probe to do the job for you? Within a decade, it is thought that the Moon will be an exotic vacation destination and that the price could be as low as $10,000.
Between 1969 and 1972, 6 Apollo missions landed 12 men on the surface of the Moon. The names were Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Pete Conrad, Alan Bean, Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell, David Scott, James Irwin, John Young, Charles Duke, Eugene Cernan, and Harrison Schmitt.
They left laser range finding equipment that still tells us today, exactly how far away from the Earth the Moon is orbiting. We brought back 800lbs worth of moon rocks which have stood up to geologist’s scrutiny and provided us with more detailed analysis of the makeup of the Moon and how it came to be. We can see from images taken from lunar orbiters that much of the equipment and the rovers are still on the surface; just where we left them.
The Google Lunar X competition, where private groups battle to send a rover to the moon aims to find some of the old equipment by landing in the same area. A group working with Audi is aiming to take pictures of the Lunar Roving Module left by Apollo 17.
For me, the most compelling evidence is as follows.
Sorry conspiracy theorists; we didn’t fake the Moon landings; we couldn’t have kept it quiet all these years. Some 450,000 people were involved in the Apollo program. If the landings were faked, they would have had to all be in on the scam. Have you ever tried to keep half a million people from revealing a secret? Given the amount of media control you would have had to impose to keep this secret, it would have been easier just to go to the Moon.
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