For those who saw 'Conspiracy Theories' on the Discovery Channel tonight

Tonight, the Discovery Channel aired this show called “Conspiracy Theories,” which argued that the moon landings in the 1960’s were fake. Previously, I was vaguely aware of this controversy, but ignored it because there’s no way to blame Clinton for it ;).

First of all, please be aware that I AM an educated man. I know why there are no stars in any of the pictures, for example. And some of the inconsistencies could be explained by editing mistakes, such as the one where the same hillside was said to be two different places. But there are some things that I couldn’t explain that easily, so I’ll turn to my faithful Doper pals. BTW, I only caught the last half of the show, so people who saw the whole thing can raise other questions if they want.

  1. How powerfull are the Van Allen Radiation Belts? Is it true that no manned missions except the Apollo missions have ever penetrated the Van Allen Belts? The show made it sound like this should have fried the astronauts to a crisp.

  2. Did anyone else see the segment about the crosshairs on the pictures? All of the pictures from the moon’s surface have a pair of little +'s etched into them for reference. However, the tv show displayed several pictures where the astronauts or their equipment were clearly covering up part of a crosshair. What’s the deal with that? Have these pictures been manipulated?

  3. There was a quick snippet of film at the very end that showed a flag flapping in a breeze on the moon’s surface. It was not a still photo of one of the famous pre-wrinkled metal flags, but a video clip of a cloth flag actually fluttering from a breeze. I assume that this was discussed earlier in the show. Does it have an innocuous explanation?

  4. If we turned the Hubbel telescope towards the Moon, would it have enough resolution to be able to see if the lunar rovers and other junk are actually up there?

I hadn’t noticed that RiverRat’s post had been revived. However, it degenerated into a pissing contest a long time ago, so could the moderators keep this thread open in the hopes of starting a fresh discussion?

I did not watch the program in question, but I think I can take a stab at some of them.

  1. People worried about the Van Allen Belts years before manned spaceflights. They were thoroughly tested with unmanned probes before anyone dreamed of sending up people.

  2. Were the crosshairs white on a darker background or black on a lighter background? If they were white, for a darker background, then a white spacesuit might not have enough contrast for the camera to distinguish.

  3. I haven’t seen your program, but one of the more famous pictures was taken by a remote-controlled camera on the lunar surface as the Lunar Excursion Mondule is launching for the return to Earth. The flag in that picture is flapping in the “breeze” from the rocket exhaust.

  4. I’ll have to let someone else tackle this one.

From the Master:

Better yet, try this website, it will answer all your questions:

To summarize:

  1. The Van Allen belts are not instant death from radiation exposure. There are two ways to reduce exposure to radiation, shielding, and reducing duration. The Apollo missions were determined to be sufficiently short duration to the radiation that there was no deadly risk. But of COURSE there was SOME risk.
  2. The crosshairs are often obscured by overexposure when the photo was taken, or during the process of duplication which always has some loss of detail (especially hairlines like the crosshairs). You don’t think that NASA would allow these nutcases to examine the originals do you?
  3. The flag flapped because it had weights on the bottom to hold it down, and wires woven in the cloth to keep it semi-stiff. It only flapped when someone moved it. Remember, objects in a vacuum have no wind resistance but the same inertia. A quick flip of the wrist would cause more flapping in a vacuum than on earth.
  4. The Hubble could not resolve objects on the moon like the LEM. But it doesn’t matter. You can easily bounce a laser beam off the Lunar Laser Reflector, which was put on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission. The LLR is designed to assist in making very accurate measurements of the distance between the earth and the moon. It is very easy to do, I’ve seen articles in amateur astronomy magazines that describe how to make your own apparatus and do it yourself. That is DIRECT EVIDENCE that there are manmade artifacts on the moon.

Shh, don’t tell DavidB that he’s been promoted to Master… It might go to his head.

As to other evidence, ham operators the world over listened in live to the broadcasts from the Moon. There was something up there and transmitting, for sure.

[Edited by Chronos on 02-16-2001 at 12:21 AM]

Anyway, the Van Allen belts are not of uniform thickness around the globe. NASA fires rockets on trajectories the pretty much minimize the radiation threat.