Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on TwitterConspiracy theory: Did we land on the Moon? Answer: Yes, the astronauts of Apollo 11, and subsequent missions, did land on the Moon. Conspiracy theorists point to a wide variety of proofs that the landings were faked. Most of them center around information related to the first landing, Apollo 11. The main points of contention are: Apollo 11 astronauts did not land on the Moon, NASA and others manufactured, destroyed, or tampered with: photos, telemetry tapes, transmissions, and rock samples, and , finally, they contend that the deception is ongoing. I will walk through proof that these theories are all ludicrous and disprove them all.
First of all is the contention that no one ever landed on the Moon and that NASA conspired, and continues to conspire, with others to hide the facts. There were over 400,000 people involved with the Apollo program over its years of existence. The number grows proportionally when you include the ensuing years. Can you think of a time that more than one person could keep a secret for decades, let alone over a half a million of them? What about the 12 astronauts that have been on the Moon? What did NASA offer them to lie to the public? A little common sense says that this one is really far-fetched.
Conspiracy theorists always want to know why there aren’t any stars in the images taken on the Moon. There are no clouds on the Moon, so the stars should be easily visible, they claim. Several professional photographers have weighed in on that point. These photographers explain that you can’t see lights in the background of a photo if the foreground object is very bright. The spacesuits that were worn at the time were extremely reflective and they had a quite a bit of sunlight to reflect without an atmosphere to deflect some of it. This high amount of reflected light makes it difficult to see stars in photos without using assistive optics.
Alright then, why did the American flag appear to flap in the wind, since there is no wind on the Moon. First of all, there is a tiny bit of wind every where in the solar system. It is called solar wind, but that is not why the flag moved. You have to go real old school for the answer. Sir Issac Newton’s second law states that an object set in motion will stay in motion until another, opposite, force acts on it. The astronauts caused the flag to start in motion as they moved it into place and there was no force on the Moon strong enough to cause it to stop immediately.
Now, on to the missing telemetry tapes. Yes these tapes are missing, but that does not mean that there are no live tapes of the mission. The Parkes Observatory in Australia made and posses slow scan television tapes of the mission. It is hard to argue with the tape.
Moon landing conspiracy theories seem to be one of the most popular space related bits of nonsense. To help clear some of them up, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has flown over several of the Apollo landing sites. Here on Universe Today we have many of those images. Astronomy Cast offers a good episode about the planned return to the Moon.