Bad TV on the Science Channel: The Apollo 11 “UFO”

By Phil Plait | July 30, 2006 10:07 pm

I just watched a program on the Discovery Science Channel about the epic voyage of Apollo 11 to the Moon. I didn’t know it was going to be on until my buddy Chris Pirillo told me about it.

I’m glad he did. Well, kinda. The show was awful, which is bad, but it gave me a chance to review it on the main website. I’ll talk about it here too, briefly.

It was called "First on the Moon: The Untold Story" and purported to be a look at stories you might not have heard about Apollo 11.

The show had lots of little errors; not enough for me to write about on their own, really, but then the show screwed up in a major way: it talked about the Apollo 11 "UFO".

Basically, on their way to the Moon, the crew reported seeing something out their window, and it was following them. It couldn’t have been the booster rocket that sent them to the Moon, because at the time it was 6000 miles distant. The show then intones, quite (over)dramatically,

If it wasn’t a part of their rocket, it could only be one thing: a UFO.

Dun dun duhhhhhhhh!

Besides that being a dumb thing to say (if it’s not identified, it’s a UFO by definition, duh), it’s incredibly misleading, since by even using the phrase "UFO" you’re strongly implying aliens.

In fact, this thing has been identified. It was one of the panels from the booster rocket that separated when the crew went into their lunar trajectory. Here’s a drawing:

The panels would have been on a similar trajectory as the module, and would have appeared to have followed them. It explains lots of other details about the "UFO" the show mentions, as well.

Worse, the show interviewed Buzz about this, and Buzz himself has said they quoted him out of context. To me, this was an obvious and ham-handed attempt to make this event far more dramatic than it really was.

I remind you, this was on the Discovery Science Channel, and not some lame channel that features ghost-hunters and other such silliness. Damnation, that makes me unhappy.

I have a lot more detail about this whole thing over on the main website. Go ahead and take a look there and get more info. But I’ll quote myself here:

This is one of the things that irritates me most about some of the documentaries about Apollo, as well as Moon hoax believers in general. Apollo wasn’t just some wacky scheme cobbled together by a handful of people– it was a carefully planned, heavily-practiced, and expertly-executed program that had the brains of hundreds of thousands of people behind it.

It was one of the singular great achievements of humankind: sending men to another world, exploring it, and bringing them home again. Isn’t that exciting enough?

Comments (47)

Links to this Post

  1. Daylight Atheism | August 3, 2006
  1. Mark Martin

    If anyone wants to check this program out, it’s available on Google Video:

    http://tinyurl.com/rkblu

  2. Max Fagin

    I read through the Apollo 11 trascripts a little while ago for a school project, and I always was confused by the “UFO” discussion.

    Like you said, the astronauts didn’t discuss their conclusions in detail because they were worried about being quoted out of context, so I always wondered what it actually was. I can’t belive I didn’t find the link explaining it right here on BA!

  3. That’s dissapointing. I saw the ads for that program but didn’t watch it because the ad talked about the “UFO.” If it was Fox or the Sci-Fi channel I would probably be alright about it but The Science Channel! How irritating.

  4. The “UFO” episode is also told in Armstrong’s recently published biography “First Man” by Hansen.

  5. “It was one of the singular great achievements of humankind: sending men to another world, exploring it, and bringing them home again. Isn’t that exciting enough?”

    No. Well, I’m sure for those watching it happen, wondering if the lander was going to sink into ten meters of dust on the surface, it was exciting. But for those of us under the age of 40, not so much – it’s about as exciting as listening to a senile great-grandparent talking about storming the beach in Normandy: ancient history.

    After Apollo, NASA spent 30 years going around in circles. That’s the NASA that people under 40 know: a directionless government agency that continually grows, sucking ever more money out of the public, without actually doing anything. Whatever legacy they had from Apollo has since been frittered away.

  6. Valhar2000

    Well, I suppose the only thing left to do is to write to the Discovery Channel and tell them that the show was horribel and disgusting and an insult to human intelligence. Perhaps they’ll get the picture.

  7. Roy Batty

    # Ed Minchau Says:
    July 31st, 2006 at 2:16 am

    After Apollo, NASA spent 30 years going around in circles. That’s the NASA that people under 40 know: a directionless government agency that continually grows, sucking ever more money out of the public, without actually doing anything. Whatever legacy they had from Apollo has since been frittered away.

    So Hubble is useless? all the other space telescopes are useless?, The Mars rovers useless? All the other probes & missions & Earth monitoring satellites, useless?
    The amount of money NASA receives is very small percentage compared to what is spent on welfare & defence btw.

  8. Evolving Squid

    That’s the NASA that people under 40 know: a directionless government agency that continually grows, sucking ever more money out of the public, without actually doing anything.

    NASA grows?

  9. PK

    Let me second Roy Batty: NASA has done a lot of really good stuff in an increasingly hostile environment.

    In my view, putting a man on the moon was the absolute high point of human civilization. The flag and the rubbish left behind will remain on the moon as a permanent testament long after the pyramids have eroded away.

  10. RAD

    NASA doesn’t grow, it evolves. I’m under 40 and I see NASA doing many spectacular things. Those mars rovers are a phenom, very impressive. I wish I owned anything that would last 900% longer than the warrenty.

  11. Michelle Rochon

    Wow. Now if that show wasn’t driven by a pre-conceived idea…

    Putting stuff out of the context is the CHEAPEST trick television people can pull :

  12. Grand Lunar

    I have a book of the debriefing transcripts of the Apollo 11 astronauts, and I often wondered about the object they saw. Least now I know (actually read about it a few days ago).

    If only those people did a little research…..

  13. There’s a whole, um, cluster, of Discovery channels on Sky satellite in the UK, and yes, a significant number of them do spend a lot of time playing “ghost-hunter” type shows. And “UFOs the evidence” type shows. I principally regard Discovery as a source of entertainment.

  14. Which is a shame. When I was growing up, I used to watch it all the time. It was a vital part of my education, especially considering that I went to a small Baptist school for K-6. (We had special books. Beka Books? Anybody else know these? Biology: God created all the plants and animals! Isn’t God awesome? And so forth.)

    So if Discovery is slipping into pseudoscience, I find that very depressing.

  15. I remember a scene from my Critical Thinking class last year…

    INSTRUCTOR: Let me ask you this: How many of you believe in UFOs?

    (my thoughts): As in “Unidentified Flying Objects”? Of course there are flying objects that go unidentified. But nah, I don’t feel like playing arrogant jerk today.

    (Many hands go up (too many to be explained by others using my interpretation), though I keep mine down.)

    INSTRUCTOR: I believe in UFOs; I see them every day.

    (Confused and worried looks from the students. Even the “believers” look worried. Hmm.)

    INSTRUCTOR: I have young kids. Stuff goes flying past my head every day, and I’m rarely able to identify it in flight. Hence, “Unidentified Flying Objects.” The point is, when I said “UFO,” you immediately thought “Alien Spacecraft.” People can overuse a word so much that the real meaning of it is overriden by the common perception.

    He also went on to mention “Supernatural,” which, when you break it down means something along the lines of “Stuff that doesn’t exist.” After all, if it exists, it’s in nature, and is natural. What’s supernatural? Stuff that doesn’t exist.

  16. Technically, Prof. BA, there are things which could (loosely) be called “Z particles”, though the odds of one hitting an astronaut’s eyeball are so close to zero it defies my ability to invent humorous analogies. A Z boson is a subatomic particle with a mass roughly that of a zirconium atomi.e., pretty darn big on the subatomic scale. They are involved in the weak nuclear force. The Z and the closely related W boson were discovered at CERN in the early 1980s; the 1984 Nobel Physics Prize went to Carlo Rubbia and Simon Van der Meer for this work.

    The phrase “Z boson” has been floating around for years in the pop-science media. (Check out, e.g., the Timothy Ferris documentary Creation of the Universe, from back in 1985.) I wonder if “high-Z particles” (as in “high atomic number”) got mixed up with the particles called “Z”. Seems a likely thing to happen when your fact-checking and editorial standards are low.

  17. Mark Martin

    I just got around to watching the whole program on Google. I am in my late ’40s, have followed this stuff for decades, and I must say- that there’s not one untold truth in this show which really went untold. Every anecdote offered as news has been known to the public for years. Many have even been known since July of 1969.

    It’s also patently false for it to have described the A-11 crew as “unwitting players” in a huge gamble (regarding the chances of the launch escape system delivering them from harm). All of them were seasoned pilots. They were engineers. They knew how machines work. It was part of the astronauts’ jobs to help write the procedures that they all used. None of them was unaware of the risk involved with the escape tower. The tower was simply the best option avaliable under the circumstances. (Incidentally, anyone with some knowledge of the Russian space program knows that those escape systems can save lives.)

    I also have to say that there’s no good reason to present the UFO as a mysterious object. There’s been film avaliable since the late 1960s taken from one of the Apollo CM windows that clearly shows one of those S-4B panels tumbling in the distance. Aldrin in particular was, and is, an expert on orbital dynamics. He certainly would’ve been well aware that the four panels’ average trajectory would be identical to that of the Apollo spacecraft (at least up to any midflight corrections).

  18. Sue Mitchell

    Yes, we were underwhelmed too. We always knew the mission had inherent dangers. Self-evident really – sitting in a construction of various companies’ lowest tenders on top of a massive fuel tank. We really didn’t need it spelling out. Didn’t need the excited, overblown commentary either.

    As regards the U.F.O., we were half-expecting them to ‘enhance’ the image the way they do in detective programmes where half a dozen pixels is enhanced to show a complete car number plate and a single pixel turns into a clearly identifiable face. ::headdesk::

    With modern technology, it would’ve been cool if they’d enhanced the fuzzy blob into Thor’s Biliskner though. ;-)

  19. THE Space Cadet

    I’m with Stephen on the Discovery channels. whenever my kids cite them as a source in a discussion, I remind them to consider the source’s validity. The moon myth that really broke my heart, though, was when ‘Good Luck, Mr. Gorsky’ was disproven.

  20. Andrew Bolton

    They also made a dramatic issue about the computer crashing repeatedly during lem descent, which was twaddle. The computer was designed to monitor running tasks and any that had not completed in the expected time were reset – because of the excessive amount of data slowing it down the the computer signalled an alarm and reset the overrunning tasks. The data overload was an issue, but the computer performed as it should and certainly never crashed. This is documented in Aldrin’s book “Men from Earth” and on a number of websites.

  21. Phil,

    I’ve got to pick two minor “nits” on your website article. You state “The service and command module stack that sent the astronauts to the Moon was inside the SIVB booster.” Actually, the CSM stack was ON TOP OF the S-IVB booster; it was the lunar module that was inside the shroud. Also, the image you chose shows the Apollo 8 configuration of the stack (look, ma: no lunar module!). Here’s a better one:

    http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/diagrams/ad012.gif

    Lorne
    (yes, I’m a spacecraft geek)

  22. Roy Batty says:
    “So Hubble is useless? all the other space telescopes are useless?, The Mars rovers useless? All the other probes & missions & Earth monitoring satellites, useless?
    The amount of money NASA receives is very small percentage compared to what is spent on welfare & defence btw.”

    Remember what happened when Hubble was first launched? It was a huge embarassment to NASA, myopia requiring a service mission by the shuttle. Not to take away from F. Story Musgrave’s accomplishment on that shuttle mission, but it was a mission that should never have happened, and wouldn’t have happened had NASA done the job correctly in the first place.

    All the other space telescopes? By that are you referring to the two dozen or so Hubble-sized telescopes that the US spy agencies have in orbit (aimed down)? Those aren’t NASA. What other space-based telescopes are there? Powerpoint slides of JWST?

    The Mars rovers: Sure, they worked well. Tell me, of what use are they to your life? Are they advancing your goals? Are they getting you any closer to being in space yourself? How about all those other probes and missions and earth-monitoring satellites? Have they improved your life? If you start talking about weather satellites, that’s not NASA, that is the NOAA. If you’re talking about GPS, that’s not NASA either, that’s the US Navy.

    Has NASA done anything in the last 30 years to increase our ability to move off the planet, or to protect our planet from extraterrestrial threats such as near earth asteroids?

    Name one thing learned in the Shuttle program or the ISS program that wasn’t already known through Apollo, Soyuz, and Mir.

    As far as your throwaway line at the end: sure, NASA costs less than welfare and defense. The only one of those three that is actually constitutionally mandated is defense. Let’s get rid of the other two as functions of government, shall we?

  23. Mark Martin

    “What other space-based telescopes are there?”

    There have been several. They just never got the same magnitude of public interest as Hubble. For example, the Chandra orbiting telescope was optimised for observations in the x-ray bandwidth. Spitzer was designed for infra-red. Compton was for gamma radiation. Hubble is, of course, used for light in the visible & near IR. These bandwidth-dedicated instruments have been part of the NASA “Great Observatories” program. There also was, some years ago, an earlier IR observing ‘scope called IRAS. That was back in the late 1970s.

    Another interesting spaceborne telescope is the Hipparcos satellite, which was built specifically for precision astrometry.

  24. “What other space-based telescopes are there?”

    Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory
    Chandra X-ray Observatory
    Spitzer Space Telescope

    Only the latter two and Hubble are still operational, but they’re out there. Those are the NASA-only observatories. There are a others that were launched and operated as partnerships between NASA and ESA or other international space agencies, like SOHO.

    But to deny the cultural impact of Hubble — even with the initial flaws — is foolhardy and disingenuous. I’ll bet the number of people who have ever used a Hubble image as a desktop wallpaper just about approaches the number of people who watched the Apollo 11 landing.

    Honestly, if we apply your standards for the Mars rovers to science in general, we’d basically just cancel everything. Because, really, why bother studying African lions or collecting Cambrian fossils? What have they ever done for our lives? Are they advancing our goals?

    Apologies for the ad hominem, but you’re being short-sighted and stupid.

  25. Kevin

    I don’t subscribe to the Discovery Science Channel, but it’s pretty common to see Discovery Channel (the regular one) shows on UFOs, angels, paranormal phenomena, and biblical silliness. The “Learning Channel” also includes lots of this, as does the History Channel. It’s sad to see this, since a lot of people have weak or non-existent BS filters and take whatever is presented as fact. When are we going to have “The Critical Thinking Channel” or “The Skeptics Channel”? I’m sure very few people would watch.

  26. Nigel Depledge

    BA, the panelling that Buzz saw was also discussed in this thread:
    http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php?t=44762

  27. I believe that Hubble (because it’s the one that gives us “real pictures”, unlike Chandra – though when APOD puts up a Chandra picture it’s generally very cool) is keeping our options open in a very real way by being the gateway. As Joshua says, people love those pictures. I wouldn’t be surprised to know more people know Hubble than Mercury.

  28. I stand corrected about Compton, Chandra, and Spitzer.

    Joshua, I am not using the standard that I applied to the Mars rovers to science in general; that’s a strawman. Apology accepted for the ad hominem though – I do tend to indulge in hyperbole myself (as my earlier comments show).

  29. Rob

    E. Minchau – I don’t know if you really believe the nonsense you write, but I hope not. First, you write:

    >No. Well, I’m sure for those watching it happen, wondering if the lander was going to sink into ten meters of dust on the surface, it was exciting. But for those of us under the age of 40, not so much – it’s about as exciting as listening to a senile great-grandparent talking about storming the beach in Normandy: ancient history.

    So – your premise is that history is uninteresting. Right there, I’m tempted to write you off completely. That is an ignorant view of the world.

    Next – NASA has done many things. DOD and NOAA’s space programs cannot be separated from NASA’s. To think otherwise is to show your fundamental misunderstanding of federal research, how it gets done and where the results show up. Go to a research center, and you will see Army Air Mobility Command researchers sitting down the hall from NASA guys, working on solutions for helicopter flight stability problems, just as an example. Which brings us to the first A in NASA that you conveniently leave out of your “analysis”. NASA has made and continues to make many contributions to aeronautics.

    The fact that you are ignorant of, or refuse to acknowledge (e.g., Hubble, Chandra, etc.) NASA acomplishments does not make it so that it is a “a directionless government agency that continually grows, sucking ever more money out of the public, without actually doing anything.”

  30. The description of the Apollo CSM – Saturn 3rd stage in the main article is kind of confusing:

    “The service and command module stack that sent the astronauts to the Moon was inside the SIVB booster. The SIVB had four panels which opened up like flower petals to release the crew….”

    Here’s a photo of the assembled stack:
    http://images.jsc.nasa.gov/lores/S67-36022.jpg

    The “petals” housed the engine bell of the Service Module and the upper part of the Lunar Module until the CSM separated from the 3rd stage, ejected the panels, docked with the LM and extracted it from the upper stage.

  31. Buzz Parsec

    About the “flower petals” description: originally, the 4 panels were hinged at the base, so when they opened, it would really look like a flower. Later the panels were attached to the S-IVB with explosive bolts, so separated completely from the S-IVB. I think Apollo 7 may have used the hinged configuration, but I’m pretty sure all the later flights, including the Skylab flights, used the explosive bolts. If I had to guess, it was probably a trade-off of weight (the hinges being heavier) vs. the chance of one of the panels colliding with the CSM. Since they had to pull away from the S-IVB (and the panels, which would follow a very similar trajectory) in order to get into the right path to insert into lunat orbit, the chance of a collision was extremely small. Right after separation, when the panels were still close by, they could see them and probably evade them if necesssary.

  32. hale_bopp

    I would add Swift and Galex to the currently operating observatories. FUSE is still going strong, although it is into spectrscopy. Can’t discount SOHO and Ulysses is still going as well. Don’t forget the old Voyagers still chugging along. Oh, can’t forget WMAP!

    Sure, they aren’t all big spectacular, visible wavelength observatories like Hubble, but they all return valuable information.

    I am sure there are a lot of others as well. I am sometimes amazed to see a new result from some NASA satellite launched 15 or more years ago and find myself thinking, “Wow! It’s still operating?”

    Rob

  33. Dude

    THANK YOU BAD ASTRONOMER! Today my friend started spitting out the stuff he saw on the program that you wrote about. Since I had a laptop with Wi-Fi next to me, I immediatly made him read your blog post. Thank you for making my friend think with his brain again.

  34. Rob, history is interesting, sure. However, I find it hard to justify spending 16 billion dollars a year on an agency whose major accomplishment was nearly two generations ago. Would anyone buy a Ford if they last good car they made had its test drive in 1969? Would anyone listen to the ramblings of an actor whose last major role was in 1969? NASA can trade off the goodwill from their major accomplishment for only so long… right about in early 1986 any claims of competence went out the window.

    You don’t think that other government agencies’ actions in space can be separated from NASA? Tell that to the Air Force.

    Of course, if you want to spend yet ANOTHER 30 years going around and around in circles, spending hundreds of billions of dollars that could otherwise have gone into productive work, go right ahead and cheer for NASA. If on the other hand you want to see America actually accomplish the VSE, then you will have to accept a fundamental change to the way NASA does everything. Get it out of competition with private business in the earth-to-LEO market (ie eliminate the CEV Block 1 so that venture capitalists aren’t scared off by being in direct competition with a government agency with deep pockets). Eliminate the cost-plus accounting. Pay for the results (data, trips to orbit, whatever), not the powerpoint presentations. Eliminate the standing army of engineers and technicians, and let them form their own private space companies: the competent will survive, and the incompetent will fail.

    Remember, the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results”. Do you honestly think that the CEV Block 1 is going to turn out any better than the shuttle, if NASA doesn’t fundamentally change?

    And look again, I stood corrected about Chandra. The remainder of your post is an ad hominem (“ignorant”, “nonsense”, “ignorant” again), not exactly the way to bring anyone around to your way of thinking.

  35. Mark Martin

    Hi Ed. I can see your point about NASA having seen its glory days come & gone. NASA does continue to administer various scientifically profitable ventures. But science is also the job of such organizations as the NSF. I wouldn’t mind a bit were the scientific/exploratory functions of NASA (along with their funding) to be re-allocated to science-dedicated agencies, and NASA re-chartered to pure engineering research. I think this could clarify everyone’s role in life immensely.

  36. Senua

    As least you have a space agency that does big science.
    Ours over here in the UK is very low key.

  37. I once calculated how much eliminating NASA and sending all that money to the department of education would benefit each student. The result? Less that $300 a year. I think supporting our system of weather satellites provides at least that much benefit per person in the US. Not to mention the science and other benefits NASA provides. If you think you can spend the $16B better, tell us where.

    Since the number of students have increased since I made those calculations and the $16B budget hasn’t, the actual spread of the wealth would be less now than when I did the math and each dollar buys less than it did then.

    SO … while NASA exemplifies a typical burocracy with its share of waste, it provides a return to society we’d sorely miss without it.

    jbs

  38. Durian Polser

    The program said that the object seen by the A-11 astronauts was similar to ‘this object, filmed on a later mission’. (Which mission?) Said object (call it X) looked nothing like a SLA panel, which is a long trapezoid, 1/4 of a tapering cylinder. (You can see them clearly in the Apollo 13 movie, which shows the docking maneuvers beautifully.) The X object shown looked cylindrical or perhaps hexagonal with one pointed and one flat end. It seemed to be in two sections with a dark disk or plate, much wider than the cylinder, between the sections. (I say this from memory, I didn’t tape the show.) It was spinning on its long axis. SLA panels look completely different.

    I see this kind of thing a lot in answer to UFO observations: since it can’t be a UFO, it has to be something mundane, so pick some mundane object, even if it’s completely wrong for the observation. Sloppy, very sloppy. Debunkers have no business being sloppy, it only muddies the waters more.

    The X footage might have shown the little moon satellite launched from the service module on a later mission (I don’t recall its name). Can someone produce its name and image? And a still or two of the X object from the documentary for comparison?

    You said that Aldrin has said elsewhere that the show took his comments out of context. Please provide a link to that conversation, and I mean a link specific to this documentary (he’s been misquoted in big and small ways for decades).

    Speaking as a skeptic, our job is to provide convincing evidence and logical arguments to substantiate our beliefs. Sneering at people for their beliefs (even silly beliefs) is counterproductive, and rude. Smug rudeness on the part of skeptics hurts the cause of logic every bit as much as sloppy thinking. People believe in ridiculous stuff for many reasons, but largely because they haven’t heard careful arguments based on solid evidence to push the ridiculous stuff aside. The subject of UFO’s is never going to go away, and neither will our responsibility to carefully -and generously- explain. People are not stupid, and should not be brushed off as fools. Doing so in the name of science will only turn them off science.

    For the record, astronaut Gordon Cooper has testified that he saw a UFO while flying as a pilot in WWII (although interviews with those in his squadron didn’t produce any corelating testamony). He clearly thought he saw an exotic machine, not a supernatural event: it’s a mistake to think that belief in UFO’s is always and solely a belief in the supernatural.

    I believe that science and logic and be fruitfully applied to any field, no matter how seemingly ridiculous. Just because lots of people make a silly mess of their interest in the idea of extraterrestrial life doesn’t mean the subject can’t be treated intelligently. Look at astronomy: lots of amateur astronomers botch their observations, but that doesn’t mean that amateurs cannot do first-rate work; the best ones can and do.

    Saying that extraterrestrial spacecraft cannot exist is as much an act of faith (not logical belief) as saying that they do: the evidence on such things as life in space is so rudimentary and incomplete that nothing is yet proven either way.

    You need to do a much more careful job on this subject. Thanks.

  39. Tim

    I have to say that Mr. Minchau is partly correct. Those of us that grew up in the shadow of that achievement (I was 8) it always seems like NASA has engaged in nothing more than flagpole sitting. The High Frontier of visionaries like Gerard K O’Neil have never even been considered much less attempted.

    I know with a budget of 1/20th the defense department’s it isn’t going to do everything but lets get back to thinking big.

    Yes the science that NASA does is very impressive and I love it but maybe that is what NASA should do and lets get some other group to work on building space colonies.

    We didn’t go to the moon because of science we went there because someone (a president I think) had the nerve to dream big and put out a challenge. A lot of people didn’t know if it could be done but that is what happens when you think big. You surprise yourself and everyone else.

    Live long and prosper everyone.

  40. Tim- I’m guessing you were 8. When you type the number eight and the end parenthesis, well, you get this: 8)

    ;)

  41. Durian, I wrote in the essay that I have more details on the main site. Did you read it? Here is the link. Dave Morrison called Buzz and asked him about the show, and Buzz told him he was taken out of context.

  42. Ug. I always hated this stupid use of the word “UFO” I’ve seen plenty of shows which have cited reports by military personnel or astronauts of a UFO. Do UFO’s exist? Of course. If you look on a radar screen or up in the air and see something flying, but cannot identify it (Not sure if it’s an aircraft, a drone, a piece of debris, a reflection off of something, an optical illusion). Guess what? It’s a UFO. By definition. That doesn’t mean it’s anything weird.

  43. jfk jr

    seiosly a ufo can be a plane
    ufo is unidetified flying object
    so it could have just been space debris

  44. Thomas

    To quote Jack Nicholson: The truth, you can’t handle the truth. I’ve read enough of the article and enough of the comments to think that you lot have your head in the sand. UFO’s are real, deal with it, and the extraterrestrial hypothesis is the most viable. Don’t take my word for it, don’t take Buzz’s or Neil’s or Gordon’s or the other astronaut’s words for it. Don’t take admirals or Generals or flight tower controllers or fighter pilots words for it. Just watch Jame Fox’s “I know what I saw” Google Video or You tube. Or keep your heads in the sand and think that you are being scientific.

  45. Mr. Plait, I just watched a repeat of the first on themoon program. I think you are mischaracterizing the panels. The explanation you cite by the NASA astrobiologist is certainly plausible but it is not absolutely definitive. I think that it would be possible with the software available to experts today to model the trajectories of the panels as they relate to the trajectory of the Apollo 11 CMandLM. I think you are being too picky on the Z particle thing as Aldrin used the term himself and a superficial study of the phrase reveals its meaning. By the by, how much shielding material would it take to protect a Mars bound crew from these particles and what was the conclusion of any NASA study on the total effect of the exposure of the Apollo astronauts to these ? I hope you enjoyed your stint on Craig Fergusons show. I missed the telecast but will look forward to viewing the youtube replay.

  46. UFOHUNTER

    Yeah don’t state your sources or anything, the fact that several astronauts spotted UFOs obviously means nothing. And I don’t believe anyone said it was aliens. They said UFO its a standard term for an object that you cannot explain… it doesn’t necessarily mean aliens.

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