Apollo 11 Degaussed?

18 07 2009

Buzz Aldrin Apollo 11NASA’s recent reported admission that the original footage from the Apollo footage was degaussed along with 200,000 other tapes has resulted in a flurry of discussion on New Zealand’s Stuff website.  This combined with the release of re-mastered digital upgrades of footage taken of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s moon landing has provided additional ‘evidence’ for moon hoax conspiracy theorists that the USA never sent people to the moon.

However, I would be keen to know if anyone has a link to the news conference where Richard Nafzger, a NASA engineer, is alleged to have made the admission of the degaussing.  The news story reported on Stuff originated with Reuters and the identical story has been reported all over the world.  The NASA website simply states that a final report is nearly completed in relation to the missing tapes that will be released in the near future – or is this further evidence of the conspiracy?

It goes to show how far reaching the 2001 documentary “Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon?” has entered into the popular consciousness and contributed to the creation of a bizarre but persistent conspiracy theory that is alive and well in New Zealand.  While many of the comments on the Stuff website were either indifferent or ridiculing the moon hoax conspiracy, a small but vocal minority were insistent that the USA never sent people to the moon.

One of the fervent moon hoax conspirators called ‘Paul T’ made a number of comments claiming that the classic image of Buzz Aldrin used on the Stuff website (and reposted above) is evidence of a fake as it shows evidence of having multiple lighting sources aside from the sun.

For a more comprehensive explanation, I will direct you to Phil Plait’s excellent Bad Astronomy website, but briefly Paul T is right – it does have multiple lighting sources, but not from stage lights.  The obvious lighting source is the sun and the others are the reflective surfaces around Buzz in the photo namely the moon itself!  The moon’s surface dust reflects a small percentage of the sunlight (which is why we see the moon from the Earth) and it serves to slightly illuminate images.  The exposure length and aperture of the camera will also be important in determining the brightness of the reflected light.

‘Paul T’ also makes the ridiculous claim that there were astronauts who were going to speak out about the hoax who died in mysterious circumstances.  This is presumably a reference to the tragic death of the three Apollo 1 astronauts in a launch pad fire.  All I can say is – show me the evidence!

However, the Stuff’s decision to focus on what are minor points in the scheme of the Apollo moon landing are unfortunate given its wide readership in New Zealand.  Lets hope they have something more of celebratory tone for Apollo 11’s 40th anniversary on Monday the 20th of July.

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5 responses

18 07 2009
Ian

This should put those silly conspiracy claims to rest lol. (yeah yeah, I know someone will claim they are faked images lol)

20 07 2009
Christiaan

I must say that the coverage on both TV One and the NZ papers has been largely good around the 40th anniversary of the moon landing. But in an interview on TV One’s Breakfast with Matthew Pavletich of the NZ Spaceflight Association even the skeptical Paul Henry still had to raise it. I do not see the point when you know that all it will do is get an annoyed reaction of out the interviewee and waste breath discussing a debunked conspiracy theory. The same thing occurred again when Mark Sainsbury interviewed Professor Ross Taylor on Close Up.

21 07 2009
grant

Everyone seems to be aware of the ‘Moon hoax’ conspiracy, but not sure how many actually believe it was a hoax; few I hope, but have I actually met one person who refused to believe in the landings so ‘they are out there’.

Part of me thinks we should just dismiss the crazies as no amount of real evidence is going to trump conspiracy theory as they can always say ‘but they faked it’.

On the other hand, it does distress me that the context of the moon landings is lost in all the focus of the Apollo missions. Questions I would love ask hoax believers is do they believe in say Concord? Mach 2 airliner, designed in the 1950s. Sputnik satellite? 1950’s tech. What about all the other space-flights leading upto Apollo? Do they believe in the Saturn launch vehicle or ICBMs? Because it seems to me that if you believe that all these things existed (and I think these people would accept that) then they must accept that people were being thrown into space in the 60’s and safely returned.

Getting to LEO (and back) is hard; adjusting orbit to reach the moon is relatively easy in comparison. Certainly much easier than faking it; look at 1960’s movie effects for comparison. In other words, if nothing else, if you take the context of the times into consideration, the average person has to conclude it would be easier for NASA to have done the moon landings than to have faked it.

21 07 2009
internalerror

It’s also difficult to imagine how much evidence is needed to convince someone who is on the side of the conspiracy theorists that they are wrong, short of actually blasting them off to the moon themselves. Any NASA tech or even astronaut can easly be dismissed as ‘being in on it’, the footage is ‘faked’ etc. I don’t really see how any new images are going to make the slightest bit of difference to them.

10 01 2014
Rob

re the object in the right-lower corner of the photo, it is not clear what it entirely is; the sunlight shadow indicates a curved or spherical shape, which is also visible as the object in vlew. The apparent “other light source” shadow suggests a tall narrow structure. There are problems with the “other light source” theory here:
1. if the source is the moon surface, it would likely be much paler, and not have a defined source-point;
2. the man’s shadow is missing from this supposed light source.
It seems to me that the “problem shadow” is just a long groove in the surface, and is consistent with the sunlight which is causing all the other shadows present in the ground surface etc.
Further, it seems to be a color photograph, so would there need to be a blue sky if taken on Earth?

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