Third-party evidence for Apollo Moon landings

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AS12-48-7134: Apollo 12 astronaut Pete Conrad with the unmanned Surveyor 3, which had landed on the Moon in 1967. Parts of Surveyor were brought back to Earth by Apollo 12. The camera (near Conrad's right hand) is on display at the National Air and Space Museum

Third-party evidence for Apollo Moon landings is evidence, or analysis of evidence, about Moon landings that does not come from either NASA, the U.S. government (the first party), or the Apollo Moon landing hoax theorists (the second party). This evidence serves as independent confirmation of NASA's account of the Moon landings.

Independent evidence[edit]

In this section are only those observations that are completely independent of NASA—no NASA facilities were used, and there was no NASA funding. Each of the countries mentioned in this section (Soviet Union, Japan, China, and India) has its own space program, builds its own space probes which are launched on their own launch vehicles, and has its own deep space communication network.

SELENE photographs[edit]

In 2008, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) SELENE lunar probe obtained several photographs showing evidence of Moon landings.[1] On the left are two photos taken on the lunar surface by Apollo 15 astronauts in July or August 1971. On the right is a 2008 reconstruction from images taken by the SELENE terrain camera and 3D projected to the same vantage point as the surface photos. The terrain is a close match within the SELENE camera resolution of 10 metres.

The light-coloured area of blown lunar surface dust created by the lunar module engine blast at the Apollo 15 landing site was photographed and confirmed by comparative analysis of photographs in May 2008. They correspond well to photographs taken from the Apollo 15 Command/Service Module showing a change in surface reflectivity due to the plume. This was the first visible trace of manned landings on the Moon seen from space since the close of the Apollo program.

Chandrayaan-1[edit]

As with SELENE, the Terrain Mapping Camera of India's Chandrayaan-1 probe did not have enough resolution to record Apollo hardware. Nevertheless, as with SELENE, Chandrayaan-1 independently recorded evidence of lighter, disturbed soil around the Apollo 15 site.[2][3]

Chang'e 2[edit]

China's second lunar probe, Chang'e 2, which was launched in 2010 is capable of capturing lunar surface images with a resolution of up to 1.3 metres. It claims to have spotted traces of the Apollo landings, though the relevant imagery has not been publicly identified.[4]

Apollo missions tracked by independent parties[edit]

Aside from NASA, a number of entities and individuals observed, through various means, the Apollo missions as they took place. On later missions, NASA released information to the public explaining where third party observers could expect to see the various craft at specific times according to scheduled launch times and planned trajectories.[5]

Observers of all missions[edit]

The Soviet Union monitored the missions at their Space Transmissions Corps, which was "fully equipped with the latest intelligence-gathering and surveillance equipment."[6] Vasily Mishin, in an interview for the article "The Moon Programme That Faltered," describes how the Soviet Moon programme dwindled after the Apollo landing.[7]

The missions were tracked by radar from several countries on the way to the Moon and back.[8]

Kettering Grammar School[edit]

A group at Kettering Grammar School, using simple radio equipment, monitored Soviet and U.S. spacecraft and calculated their orbits.[9][10] In 1972 a member of the group tracked Apollo 17 on its way to the Moon.[11]

Apollo 8[edit]

Apollo 10[edit]

Apollo 11[edit]

Apollo 12[edit]

Paul Maley reports several sightings of the Apollo 12 Command Module.[20]

Apollo 13[edit]

Chabot Observatory calendar records an application of optical tracking during the final phases of Apollo 13, on April 17, 1970:

"Rachel, Chabot Observatory's 20-inch refracting telescope, helps bring Apollo 13 and its crew home. One last burn of the lunar lander engines was needed before the crippled spacecraft's re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere. In order to compute that last burn, NASA needed a precise position of the spacecraft, obtainable only by telescopic observation. All the observatories that could have done this were clouded over, except Oakland's Chabot Observatory, where members of the Eastbay Astronomical Society had been tracking the Moon flights. EAS members received an urgent call from NASA Ames Research Station, which had ties with Chabot's educational program since the 60's, and they put the Observatory's historic 20-inch refractor to work. They were able to send the needed data to Ames, and the Apollo crew was able to make the needed correction and to return safely to Earth on this date in 1970."[5]

Apollo 14[edit]

Corralitos Observatory photographed Apollo 14.[5][21]

Apollo 15[edit]

Paul Wilson and Richard T. Knadle, Jr. received voice transmissions from the Command/Service Module in lunar orbit on the morning of August 1, 1971. In an article for QST magazine they provide a detailed description of their work, with photographs.[22]

Apollo 16[edit]

Jewett Observatory at Washington State University reported sightings of Apollo 16.[5]

At least two different radio amateurs, W4HHK and K2RIW, reported reception of Apollo 16 signals with home-built equipment.[23][24]

Bochum Observatory tracked the astronauts and intercepted the television signals from Apollo 16. The image was re-recorded in black and white in the 625 lines, 25 frames/s television standard onto 2-inch videotape using their sole quad machine. The transmissions are only of the astronauts and do not contain any voice from Houston, as the signal received came from the Moon only. The videotapes are held in storage at the observatory.[25]

Apollo 17[edit]

Sven Grahn describes several amateur sightings of Apollo 17.[26]

Independent research consistent with NASA claims[edit]

In this section is evidence, by independent researchers, that NASA's account is correct. However, at least somewhere in the investigation, there was some NASA involvement.

Existence and age of Moon rocks[edit]

A total of 382 kilograms (842 lb) of Moon rocks and dust were collected during the Apollos 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17 missions.[27] Some 10 kg (22 lb) of the Moon rocks have been used in hundreds of experiments performed by both NASA researchers and planetary scientists at research institutions unaffiliated with NASA. These experiments have confirmed the age and origin of the rocks as lunar, and were used to identify lunar meteorites collected later from Antarctica.[28] The oldest Moon rocks are up to 4.5 billion years old,[27] making them 200 million years older than the oldest Earth rocks, which are from the Hadean eon and dated 3.8 to 4.3 billion years ago. The rocks returned by Apollo are very close in composition to the samples returned by the independent Soviet Luna programme.[29] A rock brought back by Apollo 17 was accurately dated to be 4.417 billion years old, with a margin of error of plus or minus 6 million years. The test was done by a group of researchers headed by Alexander Nemchin at Curtin University of Technology in Bentley, Australia.[30]

Retroreflectors[edit]

AS11-40-5952: Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment as left on the Moon by Apollo 11
Plot of arrival time of photons (Y axis) for each of many laser pulses sent to the Moon (X axis). This data, along with similar data from the other landing sites, shows there are man-made objects on the Moon in the locations of the Apollo landings. Credit: The APOLLO (Lunar Laser Ranging) Collaboration

The detection on Earth of reflections from laser ranging retro-reflectors (LRRRs, or mirrors used as targets for Earth-based tracking lasers) on Lunar Laser Ranging experiments left on the Moon is evidence of landings.[31][32][33][34]

AS14-67-9386: Retroflector left on the Moon by Apollo 14

Quoting from James Hansen's biography of Neil Armstrong, First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong:

"For those few misguided souls who still cling to the belief that the Moon landings never happened, examination of the results of five decades of LRRR experiments should evidence how delusional their rejection of the Moon landing really is."[35]

The NASA-independent Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur, McDonald, Apache Point, and Haleakalā observatories regularly use the Apollo LRRR.[36] Lick Observatory attempted to detect from Apollo 11's retroreflector while Armstrong and Aldrin were still on the Moon but did not succeed until August 1, 1969.[37] The Apollo 14 astronauts deployed a retroreflector on February 5, 1971, and McDonald Observatory detected it the same day. The Apollo 15 retroreflector was deployed on July 31, 1971, and was detected by McDonald Observatory within a few days.[38]

The image on the left shows what is considered some of the most unambiguous evidence. This experiment repeatedly fires a laser at the Moon, at the spots where the Apollo landings were reported. The dots show when photons are received from the Moon. The dark line shows that a large number come back at a specific time, and hence were reflected by something quite small (well under a metre in size). Photons reflected from the surface come back over a much broader range of times (the whole vertical range of the plot corresponds to only 30 metres or so in range). The concentration of photons at a specific time appears when the laser is aimed at the Apollos 11, 14 or 15 landing sites; otherwise the expected featureless distribution is observed.[39] The Apollo reflectors are still in use.[40]

Strictly speaking, although the reflectors are strong evidence that human-manufactured artifacts currently exist on the Moon, and their locations are consistent with NASA's claims, they do not prove humans have visited the Moon. Smaller retroreflectors were carried by the unmanned landers Lunokhod 1 and Lunokhod 2. The Lunokhod 2 reflector has been in use since 1973.[40] The location of Lunokhod 1 was unknown for nearly 40 years but it was rediscovered in 2010 in photographs by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and its retroreflector is now in use.

Photographs[edit]

New lunar missions[edit]

Apollo 11 landing site photographed by LRO

Post-Apollo lunar exploration missions have located and imaged artifacts of the Apollo program remaining on the Moon's surface.

Images taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission beginning in July 2009 show the six Apollo Lunar Module descent stages, Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Package (ALSEP) science experiments, astronaut footpaths, and lunar rover tire tracks. These images are the most effective proof to date to rebut the "landing hoax" theories.[41][42][43] Although this probe was indeed launched by NASA, the camera and the interpretation of the images are under the control of an academic group — the LROC Science Operations Center at Arizona State University, along with many other academic groups.[44]

After the images shown here were taken, the LRO mission moved into a lower orbit for higher resolution camera work. All of the sites have since been re-imaged at higher resolution.[45][46]

Further imaging in 2012 shows the shadows cast by the flags planted by the astronauts on all Apollo landing sites. The exception is that of Apollo 11, which matches Buzz Aldrin's account of the flag being blown over by the lander's rocket exhaust on leaving the Moon.[47]

Ultraviolet photographs[edit]

AS16-123-19657: Long-exposure photograph taken from the surface of the Moon by Apollo 16 using the Far Ultraviolet Camera/Spectrograph. It shows the Earth with the correct background of stars (some labeled)

Long-exposure photos were taken with the Far Ultraviolet Camera/Spectrograph by Apollo 16 on April 21, 1972, from the surface of the Moon. Some of these photos show the Earth with stars from the Capricornus and Aquarius constellations in the background. The European Space Research Organisation's TD-1A satellite later scanned the sky for stars that are bright in ultraviolet light. The TD-1A data obtained with the shortest passband is a close match for the Apollo 16 photographs.[48]

Apollo missions tracked by non-NASA personnel[edit]

This section contains reports of the lunar missions from facilities that had significant numbers of non-NASA employees. This includes facilities such as the Deep Space Network, which employed (and still employs) many local citizens in Spain and Australia, and facilities such as the Parkes Observatory, which were hired by NASA for specific tasks, but staffed by non-NASA personnel.

Observers of all missions[edit]

The NASA Manned Space Flight Network (MSFN) was a world-wide network of stations that tracked the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Skylab missions. Most MSFN stations were only needed during the launch, Earth orbit and landing phases of the lunar missions, but three "deep space" sites with larger antennas provided continuous coverage during the trans-lunar, trans-Earth and lunar mission phases. Today, these three sites form the NASA Deep Space Network: the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex near Goldstone, California; the Madrid Deep Space Communication Complex near Madrid, Spain; and the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, adjacent to the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, near Canberra, Australia.

Although most MSFN stations were NASA-owned, they employed many local citizens. NASA also contracted the Parkes Observatory in New South Wales, Australia, to supplement the three deep space sites, most famously during the Apollo 11 EVA as documented by radio astronomer John Sarkissian[49] and portrayed (humorously and not quite accurately) in the movie The Dish. The Parkes Observatory is not NASA-owned; it is, and always has been, owned and operated by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), a research agency of the Australian government. It would have been relatively easy for NASA to avoid using the Parkes Observatory to receive the Apollo 11 EVA television signals by scheduling the EVA at an earlier time when the Goldstone station could provide complete coverage.

Apollo 11[edit]

Apollo 12[edit]

Surveyor 3 camera brought back from the Moon by Apollo 12, on display at the National Air and Space Museum

Parts of Surveyor 3, which landed on the Moon in April 1967, were brought back to Earth by Apollo 12 in November 1969.[52] These samples were shown to have been exposed to lunar conditions.[53]

Plans[edit]

As new research facilities such as orbiters and telescopes are built, the question arises whether they can see Apollo artifacts on the Moon.

See also[edit]

Citations[edit]

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  2. ^ drbuzz0 (November 7, 2009). "Apollo 15: Confirmed Times Three". Depleted Cranium (Blog). Steve Packard. Retrieved May 2, 2013. 
  3. ^ Chauhan, Prakash; Kirankumar, A. S. (September 10, 2009). "Chandrayaan-1 captures Halo around Apollo-15 landing site using stereoscopic views from Terrain Mapping Camera" (PDF). Current Science (Current Science Association in collaboration with the Indian Academy of Sciences) 97 (5): 630–631. ISSN 0011-3891. 
  4. ^ Lina, Yang, ed. (February 6, 2012). "China publishes high-resolution full moon map". English.news.cn (Beijing: Xinhua News Agency). Retrieved May 2, 2013. 
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  6. ^ Scott & Leonov 2004, p. 247
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  8. ^ Hansen 2005, p. 639
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  21. ^ Apollo 14 image
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  50. ^ "The Fresnedillas (Madrid, Spain) MSFN station". A Tribute to Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station. 
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References[edit]

External links[edit]