There’s certainly no shortage of independent confirmation of the Apollo missions. From ham radio operators to the Jorell Bank Observatory, plenty of independent observers received the radio communications. Others tracked the missions optically. The missions relied on centers located in Madrid, Australia, California, Guam, Madagascar and elsewhere to track and maintain communications with the spacecraft. Since then, lunar samples, observations and data have been confirmed by independent scientists and other national space programs.
However, one mission stands out as having been confirmed more than any others. Apollo-15, the third to touch down on the lunar surface and the first to use the Lunar Rover, has been imaged by at least three different space agencies. Nasa took images of the area during the mission, and these images were confirmed as accurate by later probes including the DOD’s Clementine probe and probes sent by the European Space Agency, Indian Space Agency, Soviet Union and Japanese Space Agency.
At least three of the probes have had imaging capabilities of sufficient resolution to see traces of the mission activities. The best images come from NASA’s LRO, the only spacecraft able to return images of a high enough resolution to recognize the equipment left behind. However, Japan’s SELENE probe confirmed the profile of the area and imaged the “halo” caused by the engines of the LEM disturbing the lunar dust, which had been undisturbed for millions of years, causing the top most layer to have different reflectivity due to the time spent exposed to the solar winds and intense sun light. SELENE also saw the outlines and shadows of equipment, but without high enough resolution to definitively tell they were man-made.
More recently, the Indian Chandrayaan-1 probe provided slightly better images than SELENE, providing additional detail and confirming the observations already made by the two previous imaging missions. This was announced in early September, but the images were not immediately avaliable.
The reason that I held back on posting on this is that the images were not available and a number of websites erroneously posted images that were supposedly showing the tracks of the Lunar Rover as seen by Chandrayaan-1. The following image showed up on a number of websites and claimed to trace the path of the rover:
Unfortunately this image (which seems to have originated on Gizmodo – note the watermark.) Is not what it seems. It does show the general area where Apollo-15 landed, but it is actually a three-dimensional compost image of Chandrayaan-1 data and not a single image. It also is not nearly high enough resolution to see the tracks of the rover. The area highlighted in red is not even the path of the rover. Rather, it appears to be an illusion caused by a string of craters and shadows in what looks like a continuous track, if you look hard enough.
The image does confirm the accuracy of the images and observations made by Apollo 15, but it does not show the tracks of the rover. Based on NASA maps, if the tracks could be seen, they would look more like this:
For this reason, I elected to avoid this topic until the real images were available. Contributing to incorrect information, even if the information would seem to support a reasonable cause, does not help credibility and is really not acceptable. However, the images and analysis are now available from the Indian Space Agency and can be found in this PDF.
Now, onto the images…
Images Taken During the Mission:
Lunar Descent Stage, as seen by the Apollo Television Camera, which continued to operate via remote control after the Lunar Ascent Stage left the surface. The camera was mounted on the Lunar Rover:
Descent stage, astronauts footprints, experimental equipment (ALSEP) as photographed by astronauts from the LEM during the ascent from the lunar surface:
Apollo-Era area photograph overlayed with mission map:
Apollo 15 Lunar Module photographed from the Command Module during mission:
Images taken before and after the landing show that surface reflectivity of the the area has changed due to dust kicked up by the exhaust from the engine.The amount of dust kicked up was relatively small, but it is still noticable compared to the adjacent areas which have not been disturbed for millions of years.
Images from the NASA LRO (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter) Mission:
The images of the Apollo 15 site taken by the LRO are not as impressive or high resolution as some of the other Apollo landing sites the probe has imaged. However, the LRO is still fully operational, so we may get back better images if it passes the area again at a lower orbital altitude or during more favorable lighting conditions.
Images from the JAXA (Japanese Space Agency) Selene/Kaguya Probe
In this image, the Lunar Descent Stage is visible as a darkened area, slightly to the upper left from the center of the circle. However, due to the resolution of the camera, it is not possible to recognize the features of the object or to distinguish it from any other surface feature of simply a dark area. What can be seen is the “halo” produced by the exhaust from the lunar module engines.
Blowup of area showing exhaust plume halo:
Images from he Indian Space Agency’s Chandrayaan-1 Spacecraft
Comparison of the various instrument cameras on the probe:
Comparison of image from Chandrayaan 1 to images from the Selene/Kaguya mission
Needless to say, this won’t change the minds of those who desperately cling to their belief that the whole program was a hoax. In the years to come, as Japan, China, India, Russia, the US, and the European Space Agency continue to send scientific probes to the moon, we can expect to see more and better quality images still, but for some, that will simply prove the enormity of the conspiracy.
This entry was posted on Saturday, November 7th, 2009 at 7:15 pm and is filed under Bad Science, Conspiracy Theories, Good Science, History, Space. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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