… and the flag was still there

By Phil Plait | October 30, 2009 7:30 am

This is very, very cool: The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, currently orbiting the Moon just 50 km off the surface, has taken more shots of the Apollo 17 landing siteand has seen the actual U.S. flag!

Behold (and salute):

lro_apollo17flag

[Click to boldly embiggen.]

Well, lookit that! It’s fuzzy and small and hard to be sure it’s the flag in the picture, but there it is. It does match maps made of the Apollo 17 landing site, so it’s definitely the flagpole we’re seeing there.

Cooool.

Compare this picture to that taken by the 16mm movie camera on the Ascent Module right after Apollo 17 lifted off the Moon; you can see many of the same features. I spent a minute looking for the rover in the LRO picture, then remembered that the astronauts moved it well off to one side, about 100 meters, before they left the Moon so that the video camera on board could record their ascent (it was remotely controlled from Earth by an operator named Ed Fendell, who had tried to film the launch of Apollo 15′s and 16′s Ascent Module but missed; with Apollos 15 and 16 technical issues prevented the ascent from being filmed, but with 17 he made it, and that’s the movie you always see in documentaries). However, you can see it in this larger overview from LRO:

lro_apollo17_overview

[Again, click to make a giant leap.]

Incredible. The LRO page on this has more details, including comparisons of the images from LRO to ones taken in situ from Apollo 17. Remember too that these LRO images have a resolution of 50 cm (18 inches) per pixel!

Wow. Wowee wow wow.

Back to the flag, there’s a curious thing about it. The flag itself was nylon, and that tends to get brittle when exposed to ultraviolet light — which is relentless and plentiful on the airless Moon (the thermal pounding it’s taken between day and night can’t help either). I’ve often wondered what we’ll find when we go back to the Apollo landing sites; I half-expect to see red, white, and blue powder off to one side of the flagpole, and no actual flag left on the pole. This picture, as frakkin’ amazing as it is, is still just barely too low resolution to be able to say for sure, I think. The shadow is only a pixel or so in size and so it’s hard to say what’s what.

Still, Holy Haleakala. Apollo 17′s flag. I wonder what Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt thought when they saw this picture. And I wonder when we’ll go back.

Tip o’ the spacesuit visor to Guillermo Abramson. [Edited to add: Apparently I am late to this game. While catching up on other blogs just now, I saw that both Emily Lakdawalla and Nancy Atkinson already wrote about this!]

CATEGORIZED UNDER: NASA, Pretty pictures
MORE ABOUT: Apollo 17, flag, LRO

Comments (119)

  1. Joel

    something tells me that some people still won’t be satisfied

  2. Greg in Austin

    Is it possible to convince the die-hard nutters that these photos aren’t faked?

    As to the flag breaking down in UV, with almost no trace of an atmosphere, it could be become very brittle indeed, but not fall apart for a very long time. If someone were to walk up and touch the flag, it would most likely crumble into shreds… Possibly… Let’s go find out!

    8)

  3. JJA

    “And the rocket’s red glare…
    Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.”

    Wave on, star-spangled banner.

    (I know, it’s either hanging there limply or lying in UV-disassembled rags at the base of the pole. But if you’ll concede that the flag or its remains are partly coated with moondust, then I will cheerfully assert that it is star-spangled in a way that makes it even more glorious.)

  4. Steve in Cornwall

    Could they see if it was fluttering or not?

  5. Cheyenne

    @JJA – Well said. Fantastic.

  6. Mchl

    I must say these new pictures by far exceed what I was expecting for LRO

  7. nobody

    It’s definitely cool! But I’m not a US citizen, so I’m not saluting…

    Perhaps we can use that special software they use in the CSI series to enlarge the picture and actually see the star and stripes :)

  8. Doubtful that any Moon Landing Disbelievers will take this as proof.

    “Oh no, it’s a speck, gotta be a Photoshop.”

    Idiots.

  9. Phillip M

    I can remember rene’ saying there was no blast area around the spot the lander landed, well clearly there is a blast zone in these pictures, so check off another stupid hoaxers “proof” we faked the landings. But of course, these pictures have been perfectly photoshopped to include the blast zones.
    (Yes, I know most of the dark ring is a shadow)

  10. Gus Snarp

    Of course the hard core moon hoaxers will dismiss this, but given the apparent growth in the number of hoax believers, maybe this will prevent otherwise ordinary people from being brought to the dark side.

    I think seeing the descent stage is cooler than the flag though.

  11. Matt

    Am I the only one that finds it hilarious that the shadows cast by the flagpole and the challenger descent stage do not appear parallel in this photo?

    I can practically hear the hoax believers salivating.

  12. Al C

    It’s hard to believe that in our educated society of the 21st century some still don’t believe that men have been to the moon….sigh…

  13. @Kevin,

    I don’t think they’ll claim the speck is Photoshopped. They’ll simply claim that the speck isn’t the flag, but is some natural Moon phenomenon or something. (Shadow from a rock or whatever.) Of course, if we were to equip a LRO2 with a super-high-definition camera and take shots of the landing sites that clearly showed the flag, *THEN* it would be “those were Photoshopped by the huge NASA conspiracy.”

  14. IVAN3MAN AT LARGE

    Phil, in the first line, it’s Reconnaissance, not “Reconnassance”.

  15. Wes Struebing

    Coolness! I AM impressed. Wonder where the nutters think the LRO is…?

  16. Pisces

    Nice pic. I was expecting this. Might not convince hoaxers who have made up their minds not to believe their own eyes though.

  17. Larry

    @TechyDad, Kevin, & Joel:

    Or worst of the worst. They claim it isn’t the Apollo 17 landing site, but rather proof of a lunar base from an extraterrestrial/interdenominational civilization.

  18. Zucchi

    If The Government(TM) is full of geniuses who can manage a huge conspiracy for 40 years, why can’t they get their act together on health care?

  19. Nigel Depledge

    I don’t expect this to convince anyone of anything.

    Hey, let’s just forget about the HBs for now.

    Those few fuzzy pixels are the shadow from the flag planted by Apollo 17. Wow!

    @ Phillip M (9) – I think the dark area around the descent stage is more likely to be regolith that was churned up by the astronauts walking over it. IIUC, only the dust directly beneath the descent engine actually got blasted anywhere, and in the airless environment it would have quickly fallen straight back onto the surface.

    Hmm … here’s a thought. I wonder if the dark area around the DM could be the dust that was displaced by its engine exhaust?

    Also, regarding the flag – I suspect that the dyes will have faded through photolysis (sun-bleaching) so even if the flag is intact it won’t look as smart as it did 37 years ago.

  20. Joel

    @Larry

    That’s clearly where the lizard people are staging their invasion from! Jeez, don’t you guys know anything!?
    ;) (Poe’s law probably applies here, right?)

  21. John

    If that’s all the proof you need, I can see the easter bunny down there too, but I’m sure you bunny deniers will have already made your minds up that it’s just a load of rocks.

    I might add my own trail of footprints for a giggle, would take me about 15 minutes.

    I could probably add a few more flagpoles whilst I’m at it, anyone have a preference for a particular nation?

    Yeah I know, hard to fit the detail into FOUR (lol) PIXELS.

  22. You can even see the tracks from the Rover. Very sweet picture!!!

  23. bubba

    OMG, that is breathtaking.

  24. John Baxter

    Took a lot of extra work to set that up in the warehouse. ;-)

  25. IVAN3MAN AT LARGE

    Hey John (#21), I did not know that they allowed Internet access at Bellevue; how’s Napoleon Bonaparte?

  26. Mchl

    John: It’s not all the proof we have. It’s another proof, although most recent.

    What other evidence can you present in favor of easter bunnies on the Moon?

  27. TimmyK

    Even if these photos are real all it proves is that at some point they sent someone there to place “evidence” that could back up their phony story about how we “went” to the “Moon”.

  28. Gus Snarp

    @Zucchi – Brilliant! +1.

    @Joel – thanks, I was gonna say that!

    @all – there are plenty of people who said the Japanese satellite images of the moon were faked too, also all too easily discredited by a simple understanding of physics. There will always be some who think that we just can’t get near that darn magical moon.

    Besides, the picture is really Mighty Mouse’s secret lair where he sits eating green cheese and waiting for a distress call from earth.

  29. Ray

    @ Zucchi,

    “If The Government(TM) is full of geniuses who can manage a huge conspiracy for 40 years, why can’t they get their act together on health care?”

    What makes you think they haven’t got their act together on health care? It can only be as bad as it is with careful planning.

  30. PeteC

    John (21) :

    Well, that’s the problem with reality. It’s not perfect. This is real data, not special effects.

    The Easter Bunny analogy is just silly, though; this is not the *only* evidence that man walked on the moon. There are literally tons of documents, tens or even hundreds of thousands of people who claim to have worked on the projects, radar tracking data from multiple nations, radio signals received from the moon, kilos of moon rock, thousands of photographs, hours and hours of film, old hardware such as the Saturn V rocket still visible at Canaveral, etc etc etc etc etc. Nobody is saying “hey, you may not know this, be we landed on the moon back in 1969, here’s our only proof, it’s this picture!”

    Of course, it won’t convince you. Nothing will. If we put you in a rocket and landed you next to it you’d claim that you’d been drugged and it wasn’t really a rocket, or the whole site was a fake and we’d just put it there yesterday using robot probes, or we’re using mind control and illusions to convince you, or some other desperate attempt to avoid reality. Conspiracy belivers base a lot of their personal worth and self-esteem in being the ones who “weren’t fooled” and are “in on the secret” unlike those poor foolish “sheeple” who don’t know “how THEY really are behind IT ALL!!!!!” Even allowing the possibility that evidence might point in a different direction risks damaging their own sense of self-worth; it’s not going to happen.

  31. Ed Fendell

    You need to get your data straight before you go around publishing things. We did not try to track the ascent of the Lunar module during Apollo 15 due to problem with the motor on the camera system. On Apollo 16 it was missed due to the crew parking the LRV in the wrong location. On Apollo 17 Cernan parked the LRV in the correct location and the tracking of ascent was performed.

  32. PeteC

    Ray (28):

    Actually, that would be really really reassuring. If there really was this huge secret world government behind it all, all national governments being just false fronts set up to deceive us – because, after all, it’s not just the US government who is covering up flying saucer aliens, moon landings, the hollow earth, swine flu microchip vaccines and so forth – then they certainly deserve to be in power! Hey, the thought that these super-genius phenomenally competent magnificently able supermen are actually running things instead of the incompetent bunch of greedy morons we think are in charge would be really great!

  33. I hope that little white spot to the right of the LRV isn’t a parking meter, or there will be a crapload of tickets on the windshield by the time we get back to the moon.

  34. Ed Fendell (#33); My apologies; it was always my understanding that due to issues at Mission Control, getting the video tracking for 15 and 16 were missed; I certainly didn’t mean to imply you had made a mistake. I have written about this topic before, and praised the efforts made by you and NASA for trying to get the ascent filmed. I have edited the post accordingly.

  35. Duda

    are you sure that flag isn’t that other dark pixel on the photo…or spot…or something ?

  36. Tasker

    So this is great! But does it mean that the Moon is defo made of petrefied wood?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8226075.stm

  37. Clearly faked. I mean, c’mon folks, there’s no big sign on the moon saying “Flag ->”. Obviously some props person forgot to remove that before the picture was taken.
    Sheesh.

  38. Jer

    Damn right, Bipedal Tetrapod! Fake!!! They probably forgot to move those props because they weren’t labeled right, just like the C Rock.

  39. rivenburg

    If we didnt go to the moon, why didnt the Russians call BS when we said we did?
    One very serious thing most people and especialy the nutters dont know, the Russians went with us to the moon on Apollo II.
    Check out the photos the nutters have showing a “UFO” alongside the Apollo II capsule in space, it’s REAL. It’s Russian, but it ‘s real.
    They were so close to our craft the NASA command was worried they would collide.

    Russia not only watched the USA go to the moon on radar (not fakeable, nor would the Soviets fake anything to help the USA) They sent a robot capsule with us. I dont believe it landed, or if it did, not softly.

  40. Gus Snarp

    Ed Fendell – I love your lingo “parking the LRV in the wrong location”. Darn those astronauts, couldn’t even park in the right place. ;)

  41. T.E.L.

    Every time there’s a post about the Moon, a bunch of rubes make the same old cracks about conspiracy theorists, yadda-yadda. Is the Nutters’ shortcomings the only thing you people can think of commenting on?

    It’s one thing when a crank makes a specific crackpot claim that can be rebutted; but all that’s going on here today is the Choir preaching to the Choir.

  42. @Larry,

    I will give any conspiracy nuts who claim it’s an alien base this: That would be a far cooler explanation than a site where we landed on the moon. Far less connected to reality, but far cooler. (And I happen to think that this is pretty darn cool as it is.)

  43. @T.E.L.,

    I think it’s become a self-fulfilling prophesy of sorts. Phil posts an article about a moon landing, conspiracy theorist pops in claiming everything was faked. People delight in poking holes in his flimsy “proof.” Rinse, repeat a few times. After awhile, when Phil makes a moon landing post, people expect that the denialists will be arriving shortly and begin some preemptive strikes to avoid having to go through the same arguments over and over again. (And yes, I realize I’m guilty of this too.)

  44. Greg

    I’m sensing that Hoagland will find a way to spin this into another incomprehensible rant on late night talk radio.

  45. “…the flag was still there.”

    Gh0d, that gets me right where I live.. Incredible and wonderful. Thank you.

    Regarding landing-deniers… I say just nuke comments from ‘em for now on. Let them eat static.

  46. After looking at those tracks and whatnots, it looks like those guys had waaaay too much fun up there. In fat, I think I can see where they did donuts in the rover.

    Yeah… I’m jealous.

  47. T.E.L.

    TechyDad Said:

    @T.E.L.,

    I think it’s become a self-fulfilling prophesy of sorts. Phil posts an article about a moon landing, conspiracy theorist pops in claiming everything was faked. People delight in poking holes in his flimsy “proof.” Rinse, repeat a few times. After awhile, when Phil makes a moon landing post, people expect that the denialists will be arriving shortly and begin some preemptive strikes to avoid having to go through the same arguments over and over again. (And yes, I realize I’m guilty of this too.)

    They start in with the jabs even before anyone has said anything to rebut. It’s gotten to where they sound a lot like a bunch of rednecks swilling beer around the grill, agreeing with each other that those uppity nigras across town need to learn their place. The Conspiracy Nutters used to be a good opportunity to think, but nowadays they’re old news. No one absolutely must respond to the same old claims with the same old rebuttals. They can be safely ignored.

  48. Great shot- I hope they calibrate these images soon and get rid of the drift-scan lines.
    That’s not actually the flag in the picture, it’s the shadow of it; the flagpole points straight up, so we wouldn’t see the flag itself from this vantage point.

  49. Ian Regan

    Compare the LRO view with a mosaic of the landing site taken from the ascent film footage:

    http://tinyurl.com/a17flag

  50. Luke E

    This proves nothing. It could have been easily photoshopped, or just completely fabricated. OH LOOK A PIXELATED PHOTO WITH SOME SPECKS ON IT. This must prove the moon landing was real! Not.

    Fear your government.

  51. amphiox

    #17: “They claim it isn’t the Apollo 17 landing site, but rather proof of a lunar base from an extraterrestrial/interdenominational civilization.”

    That’s right. One of the denominations is Mormon, and the pole is actually for drying the 50% magic underwear.

  52. Ash

    I wonder if the reason moon landing denial has become popular has to do with some people finding it difficult to swallow that our parents (or grandparents) did something that we cannot do today?

  53. amphiox

    Hi Luke. What standard of proof would be sufficient to convince you? Can you provide the same level of proof that you yourself are not a biogenetic android created by the government yesterday at 3:12pm EST with pre-loaded fabricated memories, placed in a synthetic community composed of other androids, actors and covert operatives, for the purpose of providing spare organs for retired republican senators?

    (If you are Poe, I call Poe squared)

  54. Uncle Stabby

    Hmmmm, is Luke running on the Pöebius Strip™ or not? Hard to tell a perfect parody from the real thing at this level of crazy. “Fear your government” is a lovely touch though. I vote real crazy and not Poe. If I’m wrong then I join amphiox in awarding a Poe^2.

  55. T.E.L.

    amphiox,

    That’s a non sequitur. Luke isn’t even trying to prove his non-androidness. He does have a perfectly valid point: it’s not impossible for that pic to be faked, and it wouldn’t be hard to do it. You can’t prove analytically that anyone has walked on the Moon any more than you can prove that no one has. There are only inductive arguments pointing to its plausibility, and they’re only convincing to people who understand why, that is to say, engineers, physicists, and others with similar learnedness.

  56. doofus

    Always been a pet peeve of mine.

    Showing the ascent stage leaving the moon from any mission that isn’t 17.

    Despite squinting into oblivion, I still don’t see Cernan’s daughter’s initials.

  57. Neverwenttothemoon

    Gotta love GCI and photoshop ;)

  58. Luke E @ #53: “People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.”

    Phil, you said you wanted to post one of these articles without hoaxer idiots coming along. Well, here’s an idea: Wish for that in one hand. Then take a big ol’ crap in the other. Guess which one’s going to fill up first?

  59. The nature of some humans [religion and nutters] is to stick their head in the sand. You can only battle them at the ballot box, go to war, or find your own planet.

  60. Glen

    This is extremely cool. Kind of like looking at your house on google earth only better.

    Too bad Luke is missing out on all the fun.

  61. Photo Phreek

    The best part is that the film image can be scanned at high resolution and show tons of details, but that digital image is garbage and no one will ever be able to get more data out of it.

    NASA needs to have FILM cameras on ALL missions so that 50 years from now, the shots will be crisp and high res…and people won’t be laughing at how “cute” the low-res 50MP NASA images are…

    FILM IS BETTER THAN DIGITAL!

  62. Mark Hansen

    Photo Phreek, film has a weight penalty. Digital doesn’t. Sad but true.

  63. mike burkhart

    To use legal terms the burdan of proof is on the moon landing hoxers to prove these photos are faked and not just say they are

  64. toasterhead

    64. Photo Phreek Says:
    October 30th, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    NASA needs to have FILM cameras on ALL missions so that 50 years from now, the shots will be crisp and high res…and people won’t be laughing at how “cute” the low-res 50MP NASA images are…

    FILM IS BETTER THAN DIGITAL!
    _____________

    Do you know how hard it is to find a Fotomat in Lunar Orbit?

  65. Sarah

    I get a little verklempt when I think that we (humanity) – after swinging from trees for a few million years – eventually evolved enough to figure a way to get off this rock, even for just a few short trips to our satellite :) I get a little more teary eyes to think of how one day we may see people living on the moon or even a trip to mars – possibly in my child’s lifetime. How far we’ve come!

    Also, I am amazed from a computer power standpoint that they were able to do it on their best of their technology – the modern equivalent computing power of a calculator – and not one of those fancy ones that I got in Algebra II! I can’t even go out the door without my cell phone and iPod. I can’t imagine going to the moon using a calculator.

  66. amphiox

    #64:

    One has to wonder about the practicality of implementing your suggestion. Not only does film have weight as said by #68, it also needs protection from radiation, which means shielding which means even more weight. And then it needs to be returned to earth for developing (or, even if possible to develop in space, returned for analysis), which means it can’t be used for most unmanned missions.

    And film resolution isn’t infinite. There is going to be an upper limit on film quality, even if the upper theoretical limit might be something astronomically stupendous, like down to the individual atoms of the film material, or the wavelengths of the incoming photons or whatever. Increasing digital bandwidth should eventually narrow or even eliminate that gap. (Though I’m not certain how much bandwidth would be required to match a theoretical resolution down to the atomic level)

  67. amphiox

    T.E.L #58

    I was not referring to Luke’s claim that the photo was faked. I was referring to his claim that the government should be feared, to which I consider my analogy to be perfectly appropriate.

    Resemblances to non sequitor is partially intentional.

  68. Hal

    It’s fascinating to cross-reference these photos with the actual mission photos from the surface. My favorite example is AS17-145-22216 (http://www.apolloarchive.com/apg_thumbnail.php?ptr=701&imageID=AS17-145-22216). Note the trampled ground around the LM and the flag, and the tracks from the LRV. In “moon years,” this all happened only a moment ago!

  69. Moon Dog

    At long last! The certifiable proof that moon hoaxers everywhere have needed to finally dispel their nagging suspicions that men never really landed on the moon! It’s a…

    PNG file!

    (Because for hardcore moon hoaxers, JPGs simply won’t do). :)

  70. toasterhead

    73. Sarah Says:
    October 31st, 2009 at 9:50 am

    Also, I am amazed from a computer power standpoint that they were able to do it on their best of their technology – the modern equivalent computing power of a calculator – and not one of those fancy ones that I got in Algebra II! I can’t even go out the door without my cell phone and iPod. I can’t imagine going to the moon using a calculator.
    _____________

    Me too, but the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) was pretty darn sophisticated for 1960s technology. 70 watts of power, 2048 words RAM, and 36864 words ROM, and the first computer to use integrated circuits.

    Fun fact – the Apollo 11 astronauts almost didn’t land on it – it crashed during lunar descent and it had to be rebooted. Talk about a Blue Screen of Death, eh?

  71. bill

    And to think that NASA almost threw out all the old Apollo sets as a cost savings measure in the late 80s. Now they are dusting them off for a possible “return to the moon”. This is probably a trial run to see if the old sets will hold up to the modern high resolution digital cameras. (Poe salt included ;>) ).

  72. DLC

    Photophreek @64: “film is better than digital!”

    True. it is. but how do you get the film back here ?
    You’d have to do like they did in the early days of spy sats and build a camera with an electable film cartridge, but then we’d have to shoot the film cartridge out and into a homeward trajectory. All that means a lot of extra mass, and mass is king. Shooting more mass into space means more spacecraft, and more engine and more fuel. which means more spacecraft, which means more engine, which means more fuel. It’s a vicious cycle. You have to reach a happy medium between all the science you want and what you can practically take. I agree with you, photographic film would be great. You can blow up a photo on a plate to the limits imposed by your medium. But it’s meaningless if you can’t lift it!

  73. T.E.L.

    There’s another important reason why digital is very useful in scientific imaging. The original, uncompressed image is a data field that can be replicated exactly time after time after time after time. There will be absolutely no image degradation, so every researcher gets the exact same data. That data can be processed in a well-defined, deterministic, replicable way by software. No two copies or transformations of a film image will be exactly the same.

  74. I must come out of retirement for a re-write.

    One night does not cut it.

  75. 56. amphiox and 57. Uncle Stabby – Luke is not a troll, nor is he a Poe. He is a genuine MHB that we went some rounds with last summer when the first LRO photos of the landing sites were released. Please ignore.

    - Jack

  76. DLC

    I am convinced that there will be moon hoax believers right up until each and every one of them is taken to the moon and shown each of the landing sites.

  77. Stimbo

    Sorry to drag the thread almost full circle (I’ve only just found it, you see!)

    @13 TechyDad said:

    [i]I don’t think they’ll claim the speck is Photoshopped. They’ll simply claim that the speck isn’t the flag, but is some natural Moon phenomenon or something. (Shadow from a rock or whatever.)[/i]

    Interesting, isn’t it, how the Hoaglands of this world would most likely insist that a couple of fuzzy pixels in a (stunning) NASA/JPL photo couldn’t be anything other than a rock or similar; while at the same time pointing to a couple of fuzzy pixels in a dodgy photo they found on the ‘net and swear it’s got to be some kind of alien tech?

  78. Mike Skills

    Damn, looks like Nigel Depledge dusted off his geology degree..

  79. JustAGuy

    I’m gonna just say this, I’m neither a believer nor a non-believer. ‘Space’ is just too big for me to think about. Scary even. Can’t help it. I was 10 years old thinking ‘Wow, there’s more than one solar system?’ Then I was 12, thinking ‘Whoah, there’s more than one galaxy?’ Then I remember seeing a picture of multiple galaxies with empty space bigger than the galaxies in between, and my mind exploded. It’s just all too big for me, I feel non-existent thinking about it. I was finally getting to the point of its effect not being so harsh on me, when I heard someone say ‘There’s more than one universe.’ True? False? Don’t know. Running away now.

  80. Paul M.

    DLC, that wont even do the trick. They will just say that the Apollo hardware was faked and brought up last week just before they were.

  81. Mark Hansen

    Paul M, either that or you’ve drugged or hypnotised them to make them think they’d been to the moon. To quote Dr. Silberman:
    “…You see how clever this part is? How it doesn’t require a shred of proof. Most paranoid delusions are intricate, but this is brilliant.…”

  82. Joe Hein

    Towards the left side of the ascent photo, you will see noted “ALSEP.” This stands for Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package. It was a series of packages with a central power source left on the lunar surface by each manned surface mission. I worked for Bendix Aerospce Corporation at the time of these missions and we built these experiment packages. Among their functions was to measure solar wind, seismic activity of the moon, and an array of laser reflectors to bounce back laser beams sent from earth. By precisely measuring the time it takes to send and return a laser beam from earth, the exact distance to the moon’s surface can be determined within inches. The power source to power the experiments and the radio signal necessary to transmit data to earth has long ago fallen lifeless. The laser reflector requires no power, though. Simply put, it is a mirror made of prisms that returns reflective light back at exactly the same angle as the original angle of incidence. Through the years it has developed a coat of lunar dust, but it still functions. Any physics lab with a powerful enough laser and the coordinates of any of these ALSEP packages, can bounce a laser beam off of the lunar surface to this day. ‘Nuff said about us never landing on the moon.

  83. Mark Hansen

    Joe, your mere facts are no match for the nonsensical ravings of hoax conspiracy from a true HB. A typical HB rebuttal would be along the lines of “Of course there’s an ALSEP package there; it was landed robotically by NASA to support the grand hoax“. Alternatively; “Area 51′s aliens in residence placed it there to ensure that mankind lost interest in exploring the moon and uncovering the cities that are there.

    On a more serious note, it is way cool to hear from someone that worked on the Apollo missions.

  84. toasterhead

    Looking at these photos, I can’t help feeling that there’s something poetically narcissistic about sending a probe 239,000 miles to another world and then using it to snap pictures of the stuff we put there. Yes, I know the LRO is doing a lot more observation than that, but still. It’s kinda like an American traveling all the way to Marrakech and eating at the McDonald’s.

    Which I’ve done. I recommend the McArabia burger.

  85. T.E.L.

    Joe Hein Says:

    “Any physics lab with a powerful enough laser and the coordinates of any of these ALSEP packages, can bounce a laser beam off of the lunar surface to this day. ‘Nuff said about us never landing on the moon.”

    The laser arrays are NOT proof that anyone has walked on the Moon. The Soviet Union landed its own arrays on the Moon aboard robots, and those reflectors are also still in use today. Astronauts were never the critical element in putting those instruments in place. I’m surprised that NASA never put an array aboard one of the Surveyors.

  86. T.E.L.

    toasterhead,

    I know what you’re saying, but I don’t think any peripheral effort is being made to snap the landing site pics. The satellite’s job is to photograph the whole surface, which as a bonus must include the landing sites.

  87. 95. T.E.L. Says: “I’m surprised that NASA never put an array aboard one of the Surveyors.”

    Outside of the weight limitations (the Surveyors were launched on an Atlas-Agena which has enough trouble just getting an empty payload shroud to the moon!), remember that when the Surveyor design was frozen, lasers had only been in existence for about five years. They were still pretty much laboratory devices with a maximum power in the unitary Watt, or maybe tens of Watts range. On the Mythbusters moon hoax show, the boys visited an observatory to watch as they pinged one of the reflector arrays. IIRC, they astronomer said that it took a megawatt level laser, concentrated through a large telescope, to pump out enough photos to have a detectable number make it back.

    - Jack

  88. T.E.L.

    Jack, that’s all true, especially about Surveyor’s weight limits. But about lasers particularly, remember that surely they were on their way up in power fast enough for someone to think an array was worth putting aboard Apollo 11, which went up just a year and a half after the last Surveyor.

  89. GEOLUNA

    Apologies, but it’s Harrison Schmitt, not Schmidt, as commonly misspelled.

    Cheers!

  90. GEOLUNA, you are right, and I corrected it. Thanks!

  91. Jayzen Freeze

    shopped the landing never happened and in all picks there are never any stars what to cloudy in space.

  92. Wading In

    Doubt if the flag ‘flutters’….lunar specialists…is there any wind on the Moon?? Wouldn’t NASA have sent a flag resistant to deterioration in elemental ‘space’ conditions? NASA …well, maybe not.

  93. mjt

    Hilarious – a photo of a portion of the moon and
    arrows pointing to various anomolies and told
    “this is that and that is this”. People will believe
    whatever is told to them, even when it’s obvious
    it can’t be verified.

  94. spriggig

    We could drag every denier up there on a rocket and shove their face in the dirt and they still wouldn’t believe. People believe what they want to believe because it supports their own, cherished world-view, not because of reason or evidence.

    All I know for sure is if you call Buzz Aldrin a liar, you get punched in the face.

  95. D.G.

    I sometime wonder if the first moon landing was a hoax. As ridiculous as a lot of people think it is, there’s a lot of conspiracy theorist questions that need answered—legitimate questions, not far our there crazy ones. My reason for thinking maybe there’s something to it is because of the space race. I DO BELIEVE WE HAVE BEEN TO THE MOON, but question whether it was really done the first time when it’s said to have been done.

  96. Mart diangelo

    People who dont believe in the moon landings always seem to try and support the theory by talking about shadows, etc.. my question to them would be..what part of the journey do you think is so impossible? The rockets work, the suits work, and we are talking about the moon here, not landing on the sun.

  97. JSteph

    The blast from the take-off really moved the surface dust around. I will bet the first footprints on the moon are wiped clean.
    Too bad. That would have made a good future museum exhibit when they put a museum on that spot.

  98. lechris

    I find this odd, Its funny how we have the technology to look into deep space with amazing imagery but still, blurry pictures; non HD pictures of the moon landing site

    weird…isn’t it…

  99. Bob Villa

    The Flag fell over in lift off. It is most certainly not waving or standing, most film you see of the takeoff jumps to orbital height quickly, but there is footage of the entire take off, and the flag fell over.
    Since we haven’t been back to that exact spot whatever is left of it, is still there laying in the dirt.

  100. Kevin

    anyone who doesn’t believe we ever landed there should should watch the myth busters special on the moon landing episode. they generate shadows that appear to be pointing two different directions using just a hill, a few small rocks, a model of the lander and a spotlight. they tested the flutter in a vacuum chamber and tested if dry soil similar to what was brought back could hold a well defined footprint to name a few. they also had an observatory fire a laser at the reflectors that where left behind then fire a laser at a spot nearby and got the expected result. the beam from the reflectors was returned but the one fired at dirt and rock was not.

  101. David

    Wait..that pixels a flag? Is that what I’m supposed to believe here? Man, you guys must be a gullible bunch… lol

  102. Cool! we have the technology to look into deep space with amazing imagery but when we look at the “moon landing site” all we get is a blurry non HD image! LOL

  103. Sofos

    he he. Nice try. Maybe some day in the future there will be crystal clear photos offered where the LEMS are really distinguishable when computer imaging can produce something that can cheat the eye. In the meantime these attempts to support one of the biggest fakes in history, are the saddest activity a guy can get involved in.

  104. Buzz Lightyear

    Ok, will someone please post a link to this new picture. I keep getting two pictures of “100 meters” which seem more like 100miles. All I see are dots, and a little dash, and some craters. Seriously – we can zoom in to see the time on someone’s watch from outer space – so let’s turn that sucker around and get some clear images from the moon, can we? My Grandparents didn’t help buy a $30b project to get a few specs on what looks like a picture of the moon. C’mon. I need my souvenir – picture anyone?

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