… and the flags *ARE* still there!

By Phil Plait | July 31, 2012 7:00 am

One of the more enduring questions about the Apollo Moon missions is seemingly simple: after 40+ years, are the flags the astronauts planted on the lunar surface still there?

It’s an interesting question. Buzz Aldrin claims he saw the flag blow over when the ascent module carrying him and Neil Armstrong lifted off from the Moon – which was never confirmed (until now; hang on for that), but the fates of the flags from the other five missions have never been ascertained. In 2009 there was tantalizing evidence the flags from Apollo 17 was still standing, but the images were just barely too fuzzy to know for sure.

But now, apparently, we do know: the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has now confirmed that the flags at all the landing sites are still there, except for Apollo 11. It looked like Buzz was right!

Here’s an image showing the Apollo 16 flag:

The flag itself is visible in the picture – LRO’s angle on it shows the shadowed side, which is slightly darker than the lunar surface – and the shadow it casts on the surface is obvious.

I have to admit, I’m surprised*. The flags were made of simple nylon, which can disintegrate when exposed to ultraviolet light. I figured that after all this time they’d be nothing more than red, white, and blue powder at the base of their poles. I guess I was wrong. And I’m happy to be! [UPDATE: In the comments below, BABloggee Maxx points out that polymers need oxygen to be degraded by UV light, so this may be why the flags haven’t disintegrated.]

That picture from Apollo 16 is impressive, and I have to admit, that’s my favorite flag of the missions. It’s where Charlie Duke took a picture of John Young doing a "big Navy salute" – Young jumped up, and Duke snapped the photo while Young was still off the surface (not while he was in the air, of course, since that’s a commodity the Moon lacks):

I also like it because it debunks a particularly silly Moon hoax claim (you know, the folks who think, despite a space program’s worth of evidence, that the Apollo missions were faked). One big claim is that the flag is waving in some pictures. It’s a particularly goofy claim, since you can’t tell if a flag is waving in a still photo! But during Apollo 16 Duke took a picture while Young saluted the flag, and Young took a picture of Duke saluting it. The pictures were taken half a minute or so apart, but if you compare them (here and here) you can see the flag has not moved one iota. Even thought he angles in the pictures are slightly different, it’s clear the flag is very, very still, just as you’d expect on an airless body like the Moon.

But those hoax claims are fantasy, and these new images are reality. We can see the flags now, still standing after more than four decades. That gives me hope that sometime in the near future – hopefully less than 40 more years from now! – someone will be standing there once again, and take a picture of one of those flags starkly contrasted against the dark black sky over the lunar surface. What a sight that will be.

Image credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University


* I’ll note that the LRO page (linked in the article above) says that early in the LRO mission the flag’s shadow was seen from Apollo 12. I didn’t know that! So that’s pretty cool.


Related Posts:

… and the flag was still there
One Giant Leap seen again
LRO spots Apollo landing sites in high res
LRO spots Apollo 12 footsteps

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, NASA, Pretty pictures

Comments (76)

  1. Rayceeya

    Thank you so much for posting that video.

    I’ve never seen it before but it’s effing awesome. It’s the perfect way to frame the story.

    The way they move, it just shows how quickly the human body can adjust to an extra-planetary environment. They look so happy and natural, even though they’re on another world.

    Just food for thought though.

    Mythbusters did an episode about faked moon landings. That kind of gate they were using to move around can’t be faked.

    Also, (warning, I’m about to reference that horrible Bruce Willis movie) how would NASA fake it with their anemic funding when the people who made “Armageddon” had millions more, and modern CGI technology and it still looks fake as hell?

    In short, SUCK IT moon landing hoaxers.

  2. Pete Jackson

    The flags may be all white if the UV light has likely bleached all the color out. I guess that could be tested by taping a similar flag to the outside of the ISS to see how quickly it bleaches. Hopefully, aliens that visit the sites in the future would not consider the white flags as a sign of surrender!

    Presumably Apollo 11 wanted to get the flag down in a hurry, so the distance of the flag from the descent/ascent stack was not very great. When Armstrong saw the flag get knocked down by the exhaust, the astronauts were careful to place the flags on other missions further away from the stack.

  3. Carlos

    It’s not the flags, it is the foot prints that get me. I know that there is no reason why they would dissapear (at least on non-selenological time scales). Yet it still bugs me to think that 43 years later those footprints are still there, just as they left them.

  4. May be oxygen has a role in nylon degradation, I doubt somebody ever tested nylon degradation in vacuum for 40 years.

  5. From Wikipedia: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UV_degradation)

    “Common synthetic polymers which may be attacked include polypropylene and LDPE where tertiary carbon bonds in their chain structures are the centres of attack. The ultra-violet rays activate such bonds to form free radicals, which then react further with oxygen in the atmosphere, producing carbonyl groups in the main chain. The exposed surfaces of products may then discolour and crack, although in bad cases, complete product disintegration can occur.”

    So in vacuum UV degradation should be slower

  6. CJSF

    This is also one of my favorite portions of video from the mission. Toward the end Tony England mentions the “space budget” being passed with a “vote for the Shuttle.” And then a bit later John Young says, ” the country needs that Shuttle mighty bad.” Young, of course, would go on to command the first Shuttle fight (and the 6th).

    CJSF

  7. Mejilan

    I don’t know guys. Look at the blurriness and poor image quality.
    Looks ‘shopped to me. And I’m an expert.
    Also, sharp knees. ;p

    But seriously, it’s really a shame that I was -x years old when the moon landings occurred. I would have loved to be witness so such an awesome event, as it played out. I fear that there will be no equivalently momentous accomplishment in my lifetime. That said… MARS! Just a few more days, now!

  8. Nigel Depledge

    That’s no flag. It’s one of the spotlights, and these photos are aerial shots of the sound stage in Nebraska. Or Nevada. One of those. Anyway, it’s been photoshopped to look blurry so NASA can claim that it was taken from lunar orbit. Or something.

    /Poe

    [*sigh* So sad that I feel the need to state explicitly that the above paragraph is a Poe]

  9. Nigel Depledge

    Cue somebody cueing the HBs in 5 … 4 … (etc.).

  10. Trebuchet

    I’d guess the flags may be blue and white, or perhaps blue, white, and light pink by now. Red dyes seem to fade out much faster than other colors.

  11. Wzrd1

    I’d be quite curious to see what the flags DO look like. Many items fade in color from oxidation and UV exposure working together. The same is true of nylon degradation, the UV breaking the chain, oxygen reacting with the dye to bleach it.
    The flags may very well be largely intact, but incredibly delicate.

    As for hoaxes, walking on the moon is the hoax. Hopping on the moon, yes. Jumping on the moon, yes. Shuffling around on the moon, yes. Tripping and falling all over the place on the moon, incessant. Walking on the moon, very little. ;)
    Seriously though, it’s quite true, the astronauts who were on the moon logged almost as much time on their hands and knees or on their butts as on their feet. Their EVA suits were bulky and threw their center of gravity way off. Add low gravity to the mix and you get a lot of footage that NASA rather hid, footage of astronauts bouncing all over the place, appearing highly undignified.
    For, it is true. The first man to set foot on the moon also set his butt on the moon shortly after that foot made its historic footprint.
    Which caused many near coronary events at mission control…

  12. I bet the manufactures of the flags are scratching their heads. “Is it ours?”

    And may I throw in, since this is an Apollo related post, a little known funfactoid?
    http://everything2.com/title/Apollo+13+towing+bill

  13. Eric

    Totally EPIC! The thought that we walked on the moon brings chills to my neck every time I look up to it and think about it.

    As for the hoax stuff…While I don’t believe the moon landing were hoaxes and that we indeed landed there. Using data collected by NASA to prove that NASA didn’t fake the landings is a failed argument. Just saying…

    Until I go up there and see it for myself, I will have to, dare I say, take it on faith.

  14. Wzrd1

    @SkyGazer, I remember reading about that. North American declined paying the invoice from Grumman, noting that they had ferried three previous Grumman LMs to the Moon with no such reciprocal charges.
    As a military retiree who dealt with contractors, then became a contractor, the good natured jibes are quite normal in an environment of rivalry. So, it gave me a chuckle when I first read it.

  15. Electro

    Rayceeya, I’m pretty sure the BA served as Science Advisor on that particular episode of Mythbusters.

    ( Just thought I’d save him from having to toot his own horn )

  16. @Wzrd1,

    Since we see that the footprints are still there, I wonder if we can spot any “read end prints”?

  17. Chris

    Obviously Photoshopped.

  18. Charles Boyer

    I can hardly wait for the exclamations of Photoshop tomfoolery. The sort that believes that will believe anything…except the truth, that is.

  19. Sadly, I don’t think anything will silence the moon hoaxers short of loading them in a rocket and blasting them to the Moon. Even then, I’m sure some would claim that they were actually drugged and taken to some complicated sound stage. It’s amazing that hoaxers think that NASA is adept enough to realistically fake a moon landing and silence the thousands of people who would have known it was faked and yet is amateurish enough to leave dozens of “clues” for the hoaxers to find.

    Believing in a conspiracy theory like this is an exercise in ego-boosting. You are up against a highly powerful organization who is able to plan and execute something grandiose (e.g. the Moon landings), but you are skilled enough to see right through them where the Common Folk cannot. Ceasing to believe in the conspiracy theory means that you aren’t Super Special and thus hoaxers will never give up their belief. Even if they have to twist their reasoning into weird pretzel-like shapes, they will cling to their Special-Person-Against-A-Vast-Conspiracy belief.

  20. Maxx (#5): Thanks for that! That exact thought occurred to me last night as I was writing this article up, but wasn’t sure how to find info on that. Wikipedia has some amazing stuff on it.

  21. Hampus

    It must have been awesome to grow up in the 60’s, reading about and watching videos of the moon landings just gives me the chills. Not to mention the mighty Saturn V..

  22. Charles Boyer

    Hampus: let me assure you as a native of Cocoa Beach Florida born in 1961 that it was literally earth shaking to see a Saturn V rip away from the surly bonds of the Earth. The Shuttle was like a sports car compared to the S-V: shuttles would be going 100 MPH by the time it cleared its launch tower. The mighty Saturn was much slower, much louder and for miles it shook the ground — to the point where it nearly aways cracked a window in our house on the Indian River, some 10 NM away.

    I always loved watching those launches, and as a young kid, it had the added bonus of afterwards, my Dad and Granddad would come home after being away for several days. I only hope that the kids of today and the near future can feel the joy I did with a new generation of rockets and astronauts on top of them.

  23. RAF

    To Hampus @21….yes…yes it was awesome, in the strictist sense of the word.

  24. Rayceeya:

    Also, (warning, I’m about to reference that horrible Bruce Willis movie) how would NASA fake it with their anemic funding when the people who made “Armageddon” had millions more, and modern CGI technology and it still looks fake as hell?

    Obviously, NASA is still keeping the alien technology they used a secret, and haven’t let Hollywood get access to it. Duh!

    Oh, is this really necessary? –> :-) <–

  25. Wzrd1 (#11):

    For, it is true. The first man to set foot on the moon also set his butt on the moon shortly after that foot made its historic footprint.
    Which caused many near coronary events at mission control…

    Gives a whole new meaning to “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up”.

  26. Peter B

    Eric @ #13 said: “Until I go up there and see it for myself, I will have to, dare I say, take it on faith.”

    There are alternatives to your skeptical position.

    Consider that scientists from around the world have examined the rocks and soil samples brought back by the Apollo missions. How did 380 kilograms of material get from the Moon to the Earth?

    They’re definitely from the Moon as they show evidence of having formed in a one-sixth gravity vacuum.

    They’re not lunar meteorites collected here on Earth as there’s no sign of them having passed through the Earth’s atmosphere at high speed.

    They’re not samples collected by robot missions as too many of them are documented in photos which include astronauts. If the photos were faked here on Earth there would again be evidence of terrestrial contamination.

    The only explanation left is that they were collected by people wandering around on the surface of the Moon.

  27. Do we actually know that all the flags are still standing? I always thought that there was a pretty good chance that some of them had fallen over as a result of being blown by the engine exhaust at lift off.

    See this video for some idea what happened to the flag from Apollo-14: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iy8d6cbiqv0

    It gets blown around pretty good by the exhaust. It looks like it managed to stay up and the flag stayed attached to the pole, but it’s out of frame before you can tell for sure.

  28. Peter B

    Wzrd1 @ #11 said: “The first man to set foot on the moon also set his butt on the moon shortly after that foot made its historic footprint.”

    He did?

    “Which caused many near coronary events at mission control…”

    It did?

    Could you please provide evidence of this event?

    I know that Aldrin knelt on the Moon to pray (look at his knees in the Man on the Moon photo). But I know of no occasion on which Armstrong ended up on his backside.

  29. eyesoars

    Skygazer@12: That is a hoot! I’d never seen that before, but I won’t forget it.

    Hampus@21: I was born in ’59, and I’m not sure you can imagine. Up through the end of Gemini, I believe every space launch was televised. I can remember seeing spacewalks when I was in pre-school, all the students being allowed to watch TV instead of taking our afternoon naps. It was a huge point of pride in the U.S., and with the end of the Apollos, all the public excitement ended.

    Then the aerospace industry collapsed, and there were the Lockheed bribery scandals, and a long hiatus before the shuttle (which had plenty of problems, even before Challenger blew up).

  30. I just watched the Mythbusters episode on the moon hoax the other day, so nice timing for me.

  31. MaDeR

    @Eric: I never been in Australia. I must take its existence entirely on faith, as wikpedia, geography book and all people claiming to be supposedly from Australia could all lie to me in vast conspiracy against me.

    In unrelated news, paranoia is treatable. Sometimes. Maybe.

  32. I´m from ´59 too. And it was awesome. The pace was enormous with the Americans on one side launching and the Russian on the other, with us Europeans in the middle. And I had benefits like staying up late. Sitting on the floor as close as I could (“Don´t get so close! It will ruin your eyes”) in front of the tv. It was always live. And that´s when I became hooked on the heavens/skies/weather etc.
    Tv presenters Henk Terlingen (l) and the space specialist, Chriet Titulaer:
    http://www.project-apollo.info/an3.jpg

  33. Eric

    Peter #26, yes, I believe those scientists and their study. I don’t think anything this elaborate could have been faked. However, someone who skepticises enough, can always claim it another layer of deception. Thus to that idea, I take faith that those scientists aren’t lying, no matter how unbelievable such a lie is at this point. Just like I have faith in all sorts of other things I haven’t proved from end to end on my own without borrowing from any other work.

  34. Eric

    MaDeR #30, yes. I totally agree. Believing Australia doesn’t exist and we’re all being deceived is beyond believable; yet not impossible. That’s all I’m saying.

  35. Charles Boyer

    “Which caused many near coronary events at mission control…”

    I think that’s a reference to what Charlie Duke had to say:

    102:45:57 Duke: We copy you down, Eagle.

    102:45:58 Armstrong (onboard): Engine arm is off. (Pause) (Now on voice-activated comm) Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.

    102:46:06 Duke: (Momentarily tongue-tied) Roger, Twan…(correcting himself) Tranquility. We copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot.

  36. Hampus

    @Charles Boyer, eyesoars: Wow i really envy you guys. I’ll probably be ~40 when we land on Mars, I just hope we don’t stop going after three years.

  37. Robert

    What an amazing shot of the landing site of Apollo 16.

  38. Charles Boyer

    @Hampus — in a way I envy you. You’ll get to see the progeny of Apollo as a young man, and perhaps live long enough to see human missions to Encaladus, Europa and/or Titan.

  39. Joseph G

    @#7 Mejilan: You wouldn’t happen to be a Farker by any chance, would you? :)

    Been too long. I should fire up the old account.

  40. Renee Marie Jones

    Way cool. So the fake flags are still at the fake lunar landing sites where the fake lunar landings were faked on the moon!

    They had to go to the moon to fake them. You have to build a massive rocket anyway, and it saves a lot on catering costs:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6MOnehCOUw

  41. Wzrd1

    @Peter B, I’ll see if I can find the reference you requested. I do know that it was only recently that NASA released videos of astronauts falling, which was a routine event during moon walks.

    @eyesoars: I remember watching Armstrong land when I was a child live on television. I was born in 1961, it was the same with us, no nap while Apollo was taking off, landing, moon walks and splashdown.
    When I see our space program today, I only feel disappointment, as the Apollo era was a different age.
    “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too. ”

    Today, it’s all faster, cheaper and better. Pick any two.

  42. NASA Fan

    This was actually pretty well known at least as far back as April, great write up in the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal here: http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/ApolloFlags-Condition.html

    I know they linked it in the main article, but you should really check it out.

  43. jeff

    Something I don’t understand about the picture. On the inset it shows the shadow on the left and the flag on the right, but in the main picture, it looks like the illumination is from the left. Shouldn’t the shadow be on the right? I think this proves is fake!

    On a completely separate note, what’s the name for that optical illusion again where thinks look either like a hill or a crater, but you can’t tell which?

  44. Don

    I’m a 57’er and we bought the first color tv on our street, so all the folks on the street were at our house to watch the landing and the first steps on the moon talk about a sense of pride there was so much screaming and clapping it was just unreal!
    Something I will never forget. I don’t remember Armstrong falling down.

  45. Ray
  46. Zathras

    Don’t forget about the tape recorder that John Crichton left next to the flag at Serenity Base ! ;-)

  47. Another fun fact:
    Chriet Titulaer, the dutch tv-presenter, came up with the idea of using the “Dom Tower” in the city of Utrecht, in 1986 during the space expo, to use the scaffolding* to put up giant posters of the Saturn V. This was easy since the Dom Tower is the same height (110mtrs). As he said: “Now people can get a feeling of the size of the thing.”

    http://paranoid.dechengst.nl/apollo/SaturnV-Dom.jpg

    Now, that´s putting yourself on the map. You could see the thing from miles away.

    Here is the tower sans rocket:
    http://medren2009.cmme.org/Images/utrecht1.jpg

    *the tower was a repairs at the time.

  48. Dave

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MunPi3ifqpw
    ^^^^^ ”
    From the video description: “The Flag.

    The ideal conspiracy believer says:
    ‘The flag placed on the surface by the astronauts flapped despite there being no wind on the Moon.’

    But the astronauts were actually moving the flag into position. Without air drag, these movements caused the free corner of the flag to swing like a pendulum for some time. A horizontal rod, visible in many photographs, extended from the top of the flagpole to hold the flag out for proper display. The flag’s rippled appearance was from folding during storage, and it could be mistaken for motion in a still photograph. The top support rod telescoped and the crew of Apollo 11 could not fully extend it. Later crews preferred to only partially extend the rod. Videotapes shows that when the flag stops after the astronauts let it go, it remains motionless. At one point the flag remains completely motionless for well over thirty minutes.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxZMjpMhwNE&feature=related
    ^^^ Irrefutable Proof for Moon Landing – Lunar Gravity

  49. Wzrd1

    @SkyGazer, the Marshall Space Flight Center has an Apollo display on the ground. While I was stationed at Redstone Arsenal, I and my wife went over and looked at their museum.
    As mind blowing as the size of it is, the amount of liquid hydrogen and oxygen contained in the entire rocket stack is even MORE mind numbing!

    @Don, you lucky guy! *WE* didn’t get a color television until 1972. So, I got to watch the first lunar takeoff and landing in glorious black and white.

    @ Renee Marie Jones, you forgot the fake moon that is orbiting the fake Earth. ;)

  50. Would be considerably more interesting if the flags were gone.

  51. Matt B.

    @46 jeff – I call it the crater-dome effect.

  52. Bob

    What happen to the Ascent stage? Are they still in orbit or have they crashed down on the moon? If they crashed on the moon do they know where? Will they photograph the crash sites too?

  53. Bob

    How much do you think pieces of the lander sites are worth? The US can’t keep people in the future from taking part of the landing site.

  54. viggen

    I also like it because it debunks a particularly silly Moon hoax claim

    Moreover, knowing the height of the astronaut in his suit and the frame rate of the camera, one can probably backtrack to the predicted gravitational acceleration of the moon by using the astronaut as a ruler for his own jump and the camera rate to time his fall. Can’t remember if Mythbusters tried to do that, but it seems like a trick they would use. Silly hoaxters.

  55. Rift

    # 55. Bob, here’s a link to what happened to the ascent stages

    http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/jun2001/991783298.As.r.html

    Apollo 15’s crashed at lunar coordinates 26.36 N, 0.25 E.

    Dunno when or if they’ll get around to photographing it.

    I have a friend who was in the army corps of engineers. He was given the task of figuring out how high a plexiglass wall would have to be to keep people from throwing rocks over it.

    There was also that short lived series with Andy Griffith that had him as a junk man going to the moon in the back end of a cement mixer and collecting all the stuff from apollo 11 and coming back to earth and selling it. (seriously, i’m not making it up, It was called “Salvage 1″ and them doing all kinds of weird things)

  56. RobinMD

    Damn…they almost landed in a crater!
    @55 BobSays – I’m pretty sure they crash landed the ascent stages back on the moon as a test for the seismographs that were set up on each mission. They also crash landed the spent S-IVB stage (the third stage of the Saturn V stack that boosted the CSM/LM out of earth orbit outbound to the moon) for the same reason. Didn’t research the results! It would be interesting if the LRO could image some of the crash sites.

  57. Messier Tidy Upper

    Magnificent desolation.*

    Magnificent accomplishment.

    To go to our planet’s companion world at all and then to get these photos. I think the first of those is the zenith of all human history and the greatest moment of our species to date.

    Most of the flags and footprints are forty years old or older now. Dec. 1972 was the last time humans set foot upon the lunar regolith.

    So long ago that seems. So little of the Moon explored for so short a time. So far.

    —————————————-

    * Buzz Aldrin’s words describing it best. Three other quotes that sum things up superbly :

    “This is surreal, how each grain of moondust falls into place in these little fans, almost like rose petals.”
    – Buzz Aldrin during his first Moonwalk, July 1969, Page 38, ‘Magnificent Desolation’, B. Aldrin, Bloomsbury, 2009.

    “Curiousity and a drive to understand the cosmos have characterised humanity for as long as we can tell. Our telescopes and space probes are simply the most recent steps in a journey that began many thousands of years before Stonehenge.”
    – Robert Burnham, page 43, “Glorious Universe” in ‘Astronomy’ magazine, October 1991.

    “But out of the whirlwind came a silent bird from the stars, a symbol of our ability to work with nature, to use our intelligence and within the limitations of our world, to do great things.”
    – David Levy on witnessing the 4th landing of the Space Shuttle Columbia, Page 28, ‘Astronomy’ magazine October 1982.

  58. Peter B

    Steve Packard @ #28 asked: “Do we actually know that all the flags are still standing? I always thought that there was a pretty good chance that some of them had fallen over as a result of being blown by the engine exhaust at lift off.”

    I don’t see how they could cast visible shadows if they were lying flat on the ground. The fact that we can see shadows is, to me, the main piece of evidence that the flag poles are still standing (except for Apollo 11, whose flag we *know* fell over).

  59. Peter B

    Jeff @ #46 said: “Something I don’t understand about the picture. On the inset it shows the shadow on the left and the flag on the right, but in the main picture, it looks like the illumination is from the left. Shouldn’t the shadow be on the right? I think this proves is fake!”

    Why do you think the light is coming from the left in the main picture? The LM’s shadow is to the left of the LM. That alone suggests the light is coming from the right.

  60. I wonder why the LRV looks so dark. In photos it always seemed a fairly light color, but maybe it’s so much less reflective than the Lunar regolith that it just appears very dark at that exposure?

  61. Wzrd1

    @61, Peter B, no, we do *NOT KNOW* that Apollo 11’s flag fell. Buzz only reported he *THOUGHT HE SAW* it fall. Current imaging supports his brief image report. Future imaging may well prove beyond doubt he was correct.
    In a fraction of an instant, we see things. About equally
    true as untrue. Verification is the key.
    From MY seat, it seems rather well established that the flag fell. But, it’s not been repeatedly verified that it truly did fall. Either high resolution photographs of that site can prove it or repeated observations, to rule out possible optical errors.
    As for left-right shadows, the poster obviously didn’t look closely OR consider rotation of imagery for convenience. But then, to SOME, a trick in image handling proves it is false or something.
    I guess that, to some, I am only 10mm tall, as the negative proves it and an enlarger is a trick… ;)

    @IMForeman, you are in part correct, the regolith IS rather reflective. Now, one must ALSO consider pitting of the metal from radiation and vacuum. AND consider degradation of the paint from vacuum and solar radiation. AND consider regolith of a deeper and darker color that was kicked up by the rockets.
    Honestly, I suspect a lot of ALL of the above causing a change in tint of the LRV.

  62. Nigel Depledge

    @ Maxx (5) –
    But the flags were made of nylon, which is neither PP nor LDPE. Unlike those pure hydrocarbon polymers, nylon contains amide bonds that may quench radicals and make it more likely to participate in electrophile-nucleophile chemistry (than PP or LDPE). Having said that, if the individual monomers from which the nylon is made are long enough, it can have some of the characteristics and behaviour of hydrocarbon polymers like LDPE.

    Having said that, of course, as you point out for PP and LDPE, nylon will still need something with which to react in order to degrade, so there is a pretty good chance the flags are still intact (the pics tell us that the flags are still there, but not what condition they are in).

  63. Nigel Depledge

    Eric (35) said:

    Peter #26, yes, I believe those scientists and their study. I don’t think anything this elaborate could have been faked. However, someone who skepticises enough, can always claim it another layer of deception. Thus to that idea, I take faith that those scientists aren’t lying, no matter how unbelievable such a lie is at this point. Just like I have faith in all sorts of other things I haven’t proved from end to end on my own without borrowing from any other work.

    If you pursue this line of reasoning to its logical conclusion, you end up not believing anything apart from cogito ergo sum.

    For example, you must take on faith that your senses of sight and touch accurately report to you the existence of your surroundings. It all comes down to working out what is a reasonable assumption to make.

    So, I would dispute that you take the scientists’ findings on faith – it is not faith, it is a reasonable assumption that they are telling the truth.

  64. Nigel Depledge

    Jeff (46) said:

    Something I don’t understand about the picture. On the inset it shows the shadow on the left and the flag on the right, but in the main picture, it looks like the illumination is from the left. Shouldn’t the shadow be on the right?

    Er, no.

    Several features in the main picture indicate that illumination is from the right of shot. Look at the LM descent stage – the bright parts are all on the right, and the bulk of the shadow is to the left. Look at the craters – all of them have shadow to the right (the slope that will be in shadow when illumination is from the right) and brighter areas to the left (the slope that would be in sunlight when the sun is to the right).

  65. @ Nigel Depledge (65)

    I’m not a polymers expert, only I’m only lucky at finding the right internet link :)

  66. If NASA was willing to fake the moonlanding, wouldn’t we have landed on Mars by now?
    (XKCD)

  67. Nigel Depledge

    Viggen (57) said:

    . . . knowing the height of the astronaut in his suit and the frame rate of the camera, one can probably backtrack to the predicted gravitational acceleration of the moon by using the astronaut as a ruler for his own jump and the camera rate to time his fall. Can’t remember if Mythbusters tried to do that, but it seems like a trick they would use. Silly hoaxters.

    No, that won’t work, because the film was slowed down to mimic one-sixth Earth gravity. If you speed up the videos, the astronauts’ movements look perfectly normal for having been filmed on Earth.

    Oh, wait, no they don’t. My statement above is just more HB nonsense, but your argument won’t persuade a dyed-in-the-wool HB.

  68. Nigel Depledge

    IMForeman (63) said:

    I wonder why the LRV looks so dark. In photos it always seemed a fairly light color, but maybe it’s so much less reflective than the Lunar regolith that it just appears very dark at that exposure?

    What seems more likely to me is that the LRV itself is very hard to see, but that its shadow stands out against the lunar regolith. Thus, what we see at the place labelled “LRV” would actually be the LRV’s shadow.

  69. #13 Eric, #26 Peter:
    Not to mention the fact that the isotopic composition of the lunar rock samples has been found to be consistent with the currently accepted theory of the Moon’s formation – a theory which was first proposed, based on independent astronomical evidence, 15 years after Apollo 11.

  70. Lars Bruchmann

    I recently saw footage of one of the ascent stage lift-offs from inside the ascent stage. What really caught my eye was a piece of insulation or similar being blown off the descent stage. I found the entire scene amazing because if there were atmosphere the flimsy mylar would have twisted and bent. Instead it flew outwards flipping end over end. It also went WAY farther than if it were in 1G. To me that single several-second-long footage shows an air-less environment with much lower gravity than on Earth. It looked so unnatural. Just amazing!

  71. Steve Tucker

    Nostalgia time! As an old Apollo guy from Goddard, I and several of my colleagues spent the Apollo 16 mission at mission control in Houston. It was sort of an at-a-boy award. I went there at least once prior to each mission to conduct worldwide mission simulations, but this was over the top. Sitting in Mission Control or in one of the support rooms was magical. I’m not sure that I breathed much for the entire mission. This film has really brought back fond memories. I remember the RTCC, Ed Fendell, had created a command sequence to uplink to the rover camera so we could watch lift off from the moon for the first time. More magic.

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