Into the Lion's Den – Part Two
With the videos of the presentation by Marcus Allen to the British Interplanetary Society (BIS) now posted on YouTube, Mary DM Bennett has added to the verbatim report published in May. This is an independent commentary compiled without consultation with Marcus Allen.
Having seen the videos of this event on YouTube, I can now add to the verbatim report. Initially convinced by the pre-talk circumstances – in that the BIS had asked for a talk on the Apollo photographic record – I was optimistic that the members who attended would be open minded and prepared to listen to another point of view. In his introduction Colin Philp acknowledged that the very idea of this talk had provoked strong feelings from the membership, he therefore asked the audience to allow Marcus Allen to speak undisturbed and assured them Marcus was perfectly aware that he was facing a skeptical audience composed of scientists (he then corrected this to ‘the scientifically minded’). My optimism slightly dented, I thought Marcus had just been subtly told that the mauling he was about to receive from this pride of lions would be entirely self-inflicted.
Colin then asked his audience if anyone did have any doubts about the Apollo photographs. No hands went up, and after a joke from a member of the audience and laughs all round, Colin then remarked that if anyone had raised their hand they could have had a straw poll afterwards to see if there were any changes of opinion. Now only somewhat optimistic, I thought he could have held that poll anyway – just to see if any of those BIS skeptics had been shaken or stirred; but no, Colin didn’t mean that.
It became clear that in his mind that poll would only have been taken to see if any BIS doubters had been returned to their fold, for he went on to say “Well, anyway I know the opinions of this audience”, leaving the words ‘so its not worth bothering with a poll in any case’ hanging in the air. At which point my optimism departed for I thought that I had just seen the manifestation not of skepticism but of dogmatism. One trait being a relatively closed cognitive system of beliefs and disbeliefs about a reality. In this instance the ‘reality’ was the absolute validity of the Apollo photographic record, the subject of Marcus’ presentation but not as it turned out, the subject of Jerry’s presentation.
Apollo arithmetic: groups 2+3+4=2
Jerry started out with the proposition that if there were problems with any of these photos which led the conclusion that any of them were faked, the obvious conclusion was that the missions themselves were faked. He went on to say that the conclusion drawn from that could only be that the astronauts did not go to the Moon – and they would know that. This dubious logic falls at the first fence because one or more faked images does not necessarily mean a whole faked mission. However, his statement does make it crystal clear that Jerry cannot therefore admit to one single unexplainable photo and this goes some way to explaining why he ignored many of the anomalies presented by Marcus. On the basis of his own construct, he had no other option.
Sadly for Jerry, the Apollo dissenters are not confined to a single group of deluded conspiracy theorists lacking the skills and education required for them to see the light. It would be more accurate to split the critics into four groups, which are here set out in the order in which they emerged onto the scene:
1. Those who agree 100% with the NASA Apollo record.
2. Those who do not believe mankind ever set foot on the Moon at all.
3. Those who think that the named Apollo astronauts did go to the Moon but that the Apollo images have various problems which lead to serious questions as to how the photographs were originated.
4. Those who think that we did go to the Moon, but not as presented by NASA, and that it is entirely likely that surrogate astronauts were used. Some of this group also think that whistle-blowers subtly encoded all the Apollo imagery both during the missions and through other media over the years, in the eventual hope of ending the current situation of ‘eyes wide shut’ – looking without seeing.
Group 1 subscribers see no reason to change their viewpoint – it is right. Therefore they do not think it necessary to seriously explore the reasons why there might be doubts about Apollo.
Group 2 seem to be totally earthbound in their reasoning, yet like the first group, they believe just as firmly that they are right.
Neither group 1 or 2 seem particularly pleased to discuss Apollo matters with group 3 or 4 merchants.
Group 3 might find common ground with group 4 on the Apollo photography but some find other aspects of group 4 thinking less easy to assimilate.
Groups 3 & 4 have emerged largely as a result of both increased technological resources and information availability over time. This increase of information has apparently not affected groups 1 & 2 who remain in positions taken in the 1960s. As a result of this evolutionary process, Group 1 therefore lumps all dissenters under the shorthand misnomer ‘hoaxer’. Maintaining the Apollo argument at this basic yes we did/no we didn’t level is a form of defense that ensures no resolution can ever be reached.
The situation is obviously far more complex than Jerry would like to contemplate. However, if the distinctions between these four viewpoints are made (and frankly it’s not that difficult) it’s not enough to accept them and still turn away from the problems, which was the case in this meeting. When Marcus explained his position, it made not a jot of difference to their attitude. Ironically, in the run up to this talk, one pro-BIS commentator had remarked on a pro-Apollo forum:
“... as long as Allen’s presentation was given to the man who will attempt to rebut it long before the debate and Allen is forbidden to discuss material not in his presentation then it shouldn’t be a complete disaster.” [emphasis added]
This comment alone implies that there are issues that must be avoided if group 1’s premise is to remain intact. If everything about the Apollo debate is as clear-cut scientifically as Group 1 maintains – then why would a long preparation time and the restriction of material to one subject be necessary in order to avoid complete disaster when challenged by a person considered to know less than the BIS members on all matters Apollo including photography? Ironically, it was the BIS representative who fulfilled the fears of this commentator by choosing ‘to discuss material not in the presentation’. Rather than make a rebuttal to Marcus’ hypothesis, he arrived with a talk he had prepared ‘long before the debate’ which effectively divided the evening into two different talks with only occasional loose points of connection. Jerry’s was based on cherry picked items supporting his claim that all criticism of Apollo came from a lack of education or skill sets leading the ill-informed critic to come to the wrong conclusions.
From the bastion of his own viewpoint and strengthened by the supportive attitude of his peers, thus Jerry felt it right to lay into critics of Apollo such as Bill Kaysing and Ralph René neither of whom are alive today to defend their corner. He mentioned rather scornfully that not only was Bill Keysing of the ‘We never went’ school of thought but that he was merely a librarian at Rocketdyne, indeed he strongly inferred that Bill had exaggerated his qualifications and that he wasn’t qualified to comment on the Saturn V. Character assassination is hardly an elevated approach to any discussion but it is another sign of dogmatism which also sustains the idea of an absolute authority (in this case the authorized version of the Apollo missions). For the faithful, such an attitude produces varying degrees of intolerance, it makes even listening to another point of view quite difficult (hence the admonishments of Colin Philp at the start of this talk). It makes reading any material written by dissenters, with the requisite open mind even more difficult. As Milton Rokeach put it:
“Beliefs in positive and negative authority, the elite and the cause, all have to do with authority as such. Coordinated with such beliefs are other beliefs concerning groups of people, and the authorities whom they line up with. The most clear-cut behavioural manifestation of opinionated rejection is the use of opinionated language, when communicating beliefs or disbeliefs to others: ‘Only a simple-minded fool would think that,’ ‘A person must be pretty stupid to think,’ ‘The idea is pure hogwash (or poppycock, nonsense, silly, preposterous, ridiculous).’ These considerations lead us to postulate that opinionated rejection varies with the level of dogmatism.”
Jerry’s denigration of Bill Kaysing demonstrates that he is prepared to ignore both history and the step-by-step process of engineering in order to make his point. Jerry might also have been influenced by those web sites which opine that since Keysing was at Rocketdyne in the years prior to Apollo, he was not qualified to comment on the Saturn V. Here are the basic facts of the matter:
Rocketdyne was set up by North American Aviation (NAA) after WWII especially to study the V2 rocket engines (brought over from Germany, along with Werner von Braun and his colleagues). Spun off into a separate division by NAA in 1955, it became the major supplier to NASA at its inauguration in 1958. Rocketdyne was given the contract for the Saturn rocket’s new upper stage hydrogen-burning engine in 1960 and from 1963-1965 was involved in the development of the LM descent engine.
As for Kaysing, Jerry seems not to have had access to the proper documentation. Taken on by Rocketdyne in 1956 as a senior technical writer, he progressed through service analyst, service engineer, publications analyst and head of the technical presentations unit finally leaving Rocketdyne for personal reasons in 1963. In all that time Keysing’s security clearances kept pace with his work, so not a librarian then. Jerry is not up to speed on the current literature either, for Bill Keysing was not alone in considering the Saturn V had a problem. [part one ref].
Reds under Beds
I wondered if the prevailing dogma among group 1 that Apollo history is sacrosanct was only one reason why Jerry did not know more about the Saturn V critics – he might have chosen not to read a scientific paper because the originator was Russian. But that is speculation based on the results of dogmatic thinking. It is also based on watching the Q&A session. I was astonished to see that whenever the Russian’s space exploits were mentioned, with the exception of David Baker, the prevailing tone of those members who mentioned them seemed to be stuck in some early stage of the cold war in which America could do no wrong and the Russians could do very little right.
One person thought their cameras were rubbish (only he was more impolite than that). Another person said that in his experience even today the Russians were overly cautious since they based a lot of their decisions on data acquired much earlier. Perhaps such caution is a factor in the string of firsts that Russian space exploration can be proud of. Perhaps the fact that it is a Russian-built craft that currently underpins most of the US journeys to the ISS also indicates that in terms of ‘doing what it says on the tin’ the slow and steady Russian approach has proved superior in many ways to the USA gung-ho method. Perhaps the attitude of these BIS members was related to the current problems NASA face. Whatever it was, the emotional tenor of these comments was surprising.
Another person mentioned the attitudes of the Russians and the Americans to the problems of radiation affecting their space travelers well-being. He was seemingly so determined that the American’s care of their astronauts was superior to the Russians that he completely reversed the facts of the matter. Thankfully author David Baker corrected this erroneous viewpoint and the other person apologized, somewhat. So whether David Baker entirely penetrated the cultural/political dogma lurking behind these comments despite his extensive knowledge and personal acquaintance with the Russian scientists, is another matter.
As for taking care of troops exposed to radiation, during his talk, in very exasperated tones, Jerry had said that he "just didn’t know where the idea came from" – that several feet of earth would protect a human being from radiation. Well, in a nutshell, Jerry, it’s another bit of official history associated with radiation experiments carried out during the Manhattan Project in the 1940s. When placing soldiers into trenches near to the test explosions the American authorities told them that some two foot of earth would protect them. After the blasts they were ordered to get out and walk towards Ground Zero. They were later brushed down with a broom to remove any dust from their clothes and extensively monitored over time for medical after-effects. The doctors told the military they were placing these men too close to Ground Zero but they carried on regardless. So much for caring. The mini discussion on radiation that ensued during the Q&A session turned out to be important. We shall return to it later.
Give us a Hand.glove
In the meantime, those who took part in the Q&A sessions followed in Jerry’s footsteps by ignoring the perceived anomalies in the photos shown to them, and for the most part raised comments on matters Apollo doing the rounds on the web and in Jerry’s talk. The manner in which they provided satisfactory answers to their own questions was interesting: they made a statement that was factually correct in as far as it went – but it was never the full story. Had they provided the full complement of information it would have made their whole statement irrelevant to the situation at the time of Apollo. This particular art of dishing out information on the principle of ‘just as much as is needed to deal with the problem’ is typical of government defence departments and their attendant research and development groups, civilian or otherwise.
While it might work when applied to the media and the general public, here at the BIS in a face-to-face situation this method only worked for that evening; and only then due to the time constraints. Viewing all of this on YouTube the gaps and irrelevance in these answers – is clear to see. If those defending NASA consider that they do have all the answers to Apollo because they are scientifically minded, then it surely demands a certain rigour on their part when informing the ‘uneducated’ non scientific, impudent questioner as to why they are so utterly wrong.
One example of providing partial information and thinking it would silence the opposition related to managing the Hasselblad cameras when wearing EVA gloves. One member of the audience stated that since he was able to manipulate a nut and bolt set while wearing EVA gloves, he thought the astronauts would manage any task they had to do, since they were better trained and doing less fiddly manipulations. What this BIS commentator chose to ignore was that the glove he tried on was unpressurised. Other people have also tried on the unpressurised gloves and found them cumbersome even in that state. But it is essential to compare like with like. Jan Lundberg of Hasselblad designed and supervised the build of the Apollo EVA 500 EL/70 Lunar Surface camera for NASA. From 1966-1972 he went back and forth between America and Sweden refining his designs for the astronaut’s needs and he says:
“The gloves were made so that they couldn’t grip anything smaller than about an inch and they had little feeling at their fingertips due to the pressurisation.”1.
Jerry was at pains to insist that the suits and gloves were not an issue for the astronauts, here’s what Neil Armstrong has to say about his suit (and this is without the gold visor down).
“..the disadvantage of helmets and gloves was that you were less able, less mobile and less facile.”2.
Furthermore, both this glove commentator and Jerry were at pains to point out to Marcus that these EVA gloves were in no sense of the word ‘armoured’. Wrong, as it happens. The word armour means: to be clad in a protective sheath of armour; and ‘being armoured’ originally meant foot soldiers wearing a chain mail suit of metal mesh (just like Jerry’s Monty Python image). With the exception of the rubber fingertips, the EVA gloves also had a protective outer coating of fine metal mesh. Having handled an EVA glove, the BIS commentator would have known perfectly well what Marcus meant by armoured, unless again he does not know his history, since his comment indicated that he meant armour-plated suits which were added on top of the chain mail but only for Chevaliers – knights on horseback – being otherwise too costly and also too cumbersome to move in.
This same commentator again used the half-info technique when in order to counter Marcus’ comment that if care was taken with the IMAX film stock in LEO, how much worse would conditions be for film on the lunar surface, he recounted the exploits of a cosmonaut working with a camcorder outside one of the Russian space stations (he wasn’t sure which). There was no damage to the film and he had kept its temperature even by holding it in his gauntlet. The BIS member omitted to say that those Russian space stations were orbiting beneath the Van Allen Belts in the relative safety of LEO for the most part. So his answer did not in fact resolve the basic issue concerning the Apollo EVA images when the camera did not benefit from the relative protection of any shielding extant in their space vehicles.
Tricks of Light and Shade
As I watched Jerry attempting to explain away some of the light and shade issues raised by Marcus, ‘blind me with science’ came to my mind when Jerry threw all three definitions of albedo at the problem. Jerry didn’t explain to his wider audience the differences between them nor did he say that while the lack of atmosphere ensures a full delivery of light to the surface and sharper contrast between light and shade, the albedo depends upon the composition of the lunar material. In the late 1960s the Moon’s albedo was defined thus (in percentages where 100% is a pure reflecting surface and 0% is non reflecting) the brightest spot on the nearside, Aristarchus crater reflected 18% of the incident light, the darkest areas were evaluated at 5% and for the whole disk the mean albedo approached 7%. As Dr Thomas Rackham put it in The Moon in Focus [Pergamon Press 1968]:
”In other words the Moon is a very poor reflector of solar light and may be regarded as an enormous dark grey ball of rock.”
Others have described the average reflectivity to be the same as a surface of worn asphalt. Jerry’s albedo answers did not explain anomalies in the images Marcus had shown – especially concerning that pool of light around Aldrin. Hasselblad’s Jan Lundberg could only explain this through the use of a spotlight, but knowing that no additional lighting was carried on Apollo, he had recommended that Armstrong be consulted. I referred to Armstrong’s 2005 authorized biography First Man, The Life of Neil Armstrong by Dr James R Hansen and found out rather more than I expected. All Neil Armstrong quotes in this piece are from this biography. And I should add here that if my opinion of Apollo led me to read the text in a way other than intended, then it is certainly not the fault of the authors. So, as far as the surface colour goes, Neil is of the opinion that his Moon was made up of dark grey to white grey material.
Q but no A
If Jerry wants the lunar surface to be radiating light back 360 degrees, all around as he emphasized, so that it can illuminate deep shadow, there cannot be the circular fall-off to the extent seen in the Aldrin picture. That pool of light still requires an answer from the pro-Apollo camp (let alone the camera height problem). Then again, Jerry’s answer doesn’t explain how it happens that objects within the LM shadow are brightly lit, yet the local rocks which are sitting out on his ‘bright’ surface are not benefiting from this bouncing of the light. They have one side of deep black shadow when other more visually interesting items on that same surface are filled with light. Jerry said that the crinkly covering of the Mylar would reflect the light back into the LM shadow thus lighting this ‘unlit side’.
Armstrong says that when working in the deep shadow of the LM it was hard to see. And of the TV pictures taken in that same shadow (with the Mylar allegedly doing its stuff) Neil Armstrong said that he expected them to look as they did. Notwithstanding the technological differences between the video and the still camera, the amount of light available is the same. Yet those very dark TV pictures of Armstrong’s barely discernable descent to the surface are the complete opposite to the crisp, well-lit Hasselblad images supposedly taken in exactly the same conditions. Jerry is very lucky that Marcus did not get around to the fact that the TV images taken on some Apollo missions do not match the stills of the same event.
Colin Philp later weighed in with some comments on Aldrin’s shiny new boot with the hotspot of light on the heel. Already explained by Jerry as being due to the shiny new plastic picking up the light. Which begs the question as to how – with all the plastic part of the boot equally shiny, including the sole at that point – it managed only one single pinpoint of light? Colin filled the gap. He told Marcus that as a professional photographer, and he repeated his credentials in case Marcus missed it the first time around, he could tell Marcus that the hot spot of light on Aldrin’s heel was simply Armstrong’s ‘six foot of white spacesuit’ reflecting back the light.
Which is amazing technology. These suits are not only capable of being in shadow and gathering light from the surrounding sunlit surface; they can also focus that light onto a specific spot on the heel of another astronaut to a degree that makes this ping stand out from the rest of the equally shiny new plastic and all the other ‘reflected light’ bouncing back onto Aldrin. And it does all this focusing even though the light source is offset to the right of the camera. That’s some suit. Colin seems not to have seen the analysis of this photo by Dr David Groves, or perhaps Grove’s professional qualifications are not good enough for him to think it worth a look?
With regard to the positioning of the Hasselblad on the suit front, Neil Armstrong states that it was his idea to mount the Hasselblad on their chests. One reason being that they would be able to see the marks on the camera body. But four pages further on, he also says:
“Because of our suits it was hard to see right below you. It was hard to see your feet...”
So there are possible contradictions. Which continue: on the matter of the single Hasselblad camera out on the lunar surface during the Apollo 11 EVA, this biography states that:
“Besides the Hasselblad that Neil mounted on his chest shortly after the EVA began, another Hasselblad was kept in the LM as a spare in case the first malfunctioned. This camera – an intra vehicular (IV) camera did not have the reflective outer shell (that kept the camera from overheating) and didn’t have a reseau plate for putting calibration crosses on the images. It was never brought out...”
Within this one paragraph there are several contradictions. A spare is an item that is identical in all respects, since it has to perform the same function as that which it replaces. This particular spare has no protection against overheating and therefore cannot perform out on the lunar surface. It has no reticles and will not reproduce images in the same manner as the camera it would replace. The lunar surface Hasselblad is described as having an outer shell protecting it. Which infers a separate hard casing, not the aluminium paint that was actually applied directly to the body of the camera. Dr Hansen in his acknowledgements at the back of the book, tells us that Neil wanted 'an independent, scholarly biography. Although he took the opportunity to read and comment on every draft chapter, he did so only to guarantee that the book was as factual and technically correct as possible.' [emphasis added]
I am not the only one to have noticed apparent contradictions in this book, David Orbell had already written to Dr Hansen about the contradictions he had found, with no reply. These apparent contradictions are more than interesting but I suspect that it is for each of us to draw our own conclusions on the information contained within this book.
Do as I Say Not as I Do
In the Q&A session it was inferred that Marcus might like to consider himself as a cultural vandal, by giving talks on a subject he didn’t understand and that all his answers had been or could be, dealt with by people such as the BIS. “Why didn’t you come to us earlier?” he was asked. NASA have not answered pertinent questions put to it on the subject of Apollo by those researching the photographic record, nor has the agency or its contractors answered technical questions, so why should NASA’s staunchest allies in the UK be more forthcoming?
One might even return the question and ask why it has taken them so long to make the invitation? But then look what happened when they did finally get around to it: consternation within the ranks. And while we are on the subject of cultural vandalism, that reference to Holocaust denial accompanied by the photo of Auschwitz which I mentioned in Part One, was not included on the YouTube record.
Marcus had not made it clear to me at the time of his verbatim report that Jerry chose to end his talk with that particular slide and comment. With the wisdom of hindsight, this image was cut from the video before uploading. Albeit a bit too late, since the event had taken place and been recorded. It is remarkable that Jerry expects the Apollo record to be the full and frank account of its actions, while in defending that same idea, he censors the content of his own talk before it goes out to a wider public.
Another questioner asked why it was not until 1990 that the subject of photography came to the fore relative to Apollo. The implication seemingly being that when the World Wide Web kicked in, the Apollo hoax brigade downloaded Apollo images from various web sites (images which might well be generations down the line from the originals and have further suffered from their transfer to various web sites) and then justified their doubts through picking up on artifacts generated by the ever-worsening duplication process. Well, that maybe the case for some people but it’s not the case for everyone.
At the time of analysing these images (1994) for Dark Moon: Apollo and the Whistle-Blowers there was no Web of any significance and the authors ordered all their dupe 70mm images directly from NASA. As Jerry rightly pointed out, it’s not all right just to say 'there’s something wrong with that photo it looks like...' It is necessary to be able to analyse the image beyond the point of mere opinion. Marcus didn’t get around to stating the obvious reason for the upsurge in commentary, so here it is: any private citizen with any concerns about these images and wishing to get beyond ‘feeling’ or ‘opinion’ was obliged to wait until personal computing had the tools to do an acceptable analytical job – and that only became possible since the release of Adobe Photoshop® in 1990. Remembering that Jerry didn’t manage to explain away very simple non-technical ‘lookey likey’ problems such as extra astronaut footprints or no tracks at all around the rover in Marcus’ selection, it certainly looks like there’s still a problem, Mr Stone.
The C.rock of Gold
Speaking of stones, here is another picture of a rover, together with the ‘C’ rock in the foreground which Jerry mentioned in his talk. Originally spotted by Ralph René, who suggested it was a studio prop. Jerry said that no one puts marks on set props (which is not necessarily true of complicated studio set ups) and that the perceived ‘C’ on this rock was a fault introduced during the duplication of this image. He chose to completely ignore the fact that in this photo there is another C on the ground which matches the C on the rock.
Not only is it quite a coincidence finding two identical faults at different places on the same image but even more extraordinary, the starboard wheel of the rover has driven over the field of rocks in the foreground while the port side wheel has apparently driven straight across this large ‘C‘ rock. Given the smoother surface adjacent to this deposit of rocks that seems a trifle cavalier use of their very precious rover. Finally, the rover chassis has ended up in ‘position impossible’ relative to this trajectory.
Perhaps its more See C Rover than CC Rider. Those who know what CC Rider means will appreciate the fact that Oengus Og, the Irish god of love who features in James Stephen’s philosophical novel The Crock of Gold has a first name which means ‘one choice’. Oengus in modern terms is today's Angus.
Seeing is Believing
Jerry tried to deal with the problems of background mountains (sharp edged or soft?) and exhaust craters under the LMs (yes or no?) by showing a Bonestell illustration of a LM landing on the lunar surface and stating that it was not necessarily accurate because it was done for dramatic effect. Yet such illustrations were commissioned by NASA to accompany articles in the National Geographic full of scientifically correct information, and as late as spring 1969, still featured craters under the LM exhaust engines. There had been enough imaging of the Moon to adjust these images had it been necessary but the scientists expected rocket plumes to affect the surface significantly and designed both the Surveyor and Apollo landings with that in mind.
In the NASA Apollo 11 record, Armstrong expected to make a crater, for he specifically commented on the fact that he had not done so, although he mentions that near to the rocket-plume there were fractured rocks and others which had been disturbed (moved from their original location). No sign of that in the photos we have seen. Armstrong did however comment in his biography that as of just under one hundred feet above the surface until he landed – he could not see for the sheets of sand moving under his craft. He was very specific about that word sheets. He says:
“I heard Buzz say something about contact. But we were still over this moving sheet of sand, and I wasn’t completely confident at that point that we had really touched. The indicator light might have been an anomaly or something, so I wanted to feel my way down a little closer. We might have actually touched before I shut the engine down – it was very close.”
Armstrong said that once landed he could see angular blocks out of the window and he emphasized the fact that they had angular edges. By the time Apollo 13 was ready to fly, there had been allegedly two lunar landings to back up those former probe images. Yet the Grumman patch for the lucky LM number 7 which flew on the unlucky Apollo 13 mission pictured sharp-edged mountains and an ‘exhaust’ crater with rays of disturbed dust emanating from it.
Going for Gold
David Baker tried to explain the very soft luminous mountains seen in background of some of the Apollo EVAs with an interesting dissertation on electrostatic transportation. Astrophysicist Thomas Gold was mentioned in this regard, having been given a hard time at NASA when he first proposed this idea. David Baker said that this electrostatic transportation is part of the 'weathering’ system on the Moon and helps explains the soft edges [but not apparently the angular rocks previously mentioned]. It also “creates a shimmering as the Moon passes through the tail of the electro-magnetosphere,” which might be all well and good technically, but the Apollo missions which feature these soft background mountains, were scheduled when the Moon was at right angles to the Sun and NOT in the magnetosphere’s tail. Since this BIS event a Russian scientist has published a paper on the matter of these mountains which doesn’t help this particular hypothesis.
But in mentioning the magnetosphere, we are back to that discussion on radiation. Again a bit of history is required. Not having read the relevant texts, Jerry had singled out Ralph René and ‘Dave’ Percy for his special awards for ignorance relative to the subject of space radiation. As it happens, both the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and the Royal Society, are inclined to agree with the prizewinners: In 2008 the RAL wrote:
“Travel beyond the immediate vicinity of the Earth carries significant risks for astronauts, not the least of which is the exposure to sometimes high levels of radiation. Now a team of scientists at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory are set to construct an experimental magnetic shield that would protect explorers in their journeys between the planets. Cosmic rays and radiation from the Sun itself can cause acute radiation sickness in astronauts and even death. Between 1968 and 1973, the Apollo astronauts going to the Moon were only in space for about 10 days at a time and were simply lucky not to have been in space during a major eruption on the sun that would have flooded their spacecraft with deadly radiation. In retrospect Neil Armstrong’s ‘one small step for Man’ would have looked very different if it had.”
On the International Space Station there is a special thick-walled room to which the astronauts have had to retreat during times of increased solar radiation. However on longer missions the astronauts cannot live within shielded rooms, since such shielding would add significantly to the mass of the spacecraft, making them much more expensive and difficult to launch. It is also now known that the ‘drip-drip’ of even lower levels of radiation can be as dangerous as acute bursts from the sun. On the surface of the Earth we are protected from radiation by the thick layers of the atmosphere. And the terrestrial magnetic field extends far into space, acting as a natural ‘force field’ to further protect our planet and deflecting the worst of the energetic particles from the Sun by creating a ‘plasma barrier’.” [emphasis added]:
If science is based on luck, Apollo was at the cutting edge. These comments in italics are interesting. The situation is worse than was thought at the time of Apollo because even if undetected at the time, the effects of these lower levels were still present in the 1960s. Another member of the audience inferred that radiation was not a problem for Apollo as the Moon was protected by the bow shock of the Earth,. The learned member of the BIS surely is aware that the surface of the Moon is only shielded from the solar wind for around four days each month. For the less scientifically inclined, this statement from the Royal Society in 2011 is as instructive as is the caption.
“Deep in the magnetosphere near the earth, the international Space Station is relatively well protected. GPS satellites and geostationary satellites (further out, located in and near the radiation belts, coloured orange and red [in this image]) are also more exposed to solar energetic particles and space weather events. The Moon, even further away from the Earth, is highly exposed.”
Half Life = Half answer
Still on the subject of radiation, Marcus did not help his cause when he got his dates wrong when he referred to the Starfish Prime nuclear explosion. He got his facts wrong relative to the Russian experiments and he also stated that there are three Van Allen Belts as a result of these high altitude nuclear explosions, whereupon he was pounced upon by David Baker, who said that there was no third belt and that we should all remember that in talking of radiation we are dealing with different levels of radiation in different areas. Syntax is all.
David Baker is of course entirely correct in the scientific principles but it is not possible to dismiss the man-made radiation belts of 1958 and 1962 as irrelevant to the discussion on Apollo quite so easily, because these experiments did affect the space program (manned or otherwise) at that time and the political and financial ramifications are still with us today. These high altitude nuclear experiments were designed to see if the physical consequences of the artificial radiation belts they created could be translated into a useful tool or weapon. Comprehensively reading up on the three Operation Argus events of 1958 and the single Starfish Prime event of 1962 is an instructive exercise even today.
Starfish Prime was a very visible experiment being at lower altitudes than Argus and far more powerful, and it had been internationally opposed by many scientists. Sir Bernard Lovell saying that the results were ‘utterly catastrophic’. In its documentation of 1964, NASA maintained that it had been a very useful exercise. In another report on Starfish Prime, the NASA Space Task Group (STG) stated that there would be slow decay of radiation in the new belt which had formed 2,484 miles/3997 kms up from the surface of Earth. At peak 400 miles wide and 4,000 miles in depth it was a hundred times greater in energy than the naturally existing belts.
As for finding out about the physical effects – the electromagnetic pulse generated by this explosion was larger than had been expected. The ionosphere was affected so badly that communications were ruptured and satellites in LEO disabled – over time. Some were knocked out immediately, some succumbed from their injuries a month or so later and even satellites launched after the event (but not hardened against these Starfish levels of radiation) died some months later. It was estimated that the Starfish Prime belt had dissipated by October 1962 – yet the NASA STG had also stated that the half-life of the Starfish Prime radiation could be as long as 20 years.
Since these artificial belts decay at different rates depending on many factors including altitude, only a constant monitoring of the effects would show the actual status of the belt. It follows then, that in the step-by-step process of how to get into space with machinery, bio-organisms and human beings, it was essential for NASA to take into account both the natural environment and the results of their deliberate alterations to the space environment in all planning decisions for their craft construction and the timing of their voyages.
The very fact that at the time, the Starfish Prime decay rates were estimated on the long side and as members of the BIS pointed out, in their view NASA would always err on the side of caution when faced with the unknown, underlines this point. David Baker also said:
"Some of the precursor test missions [USSR] were much more protracted than we had in the Apollo Program, where we really were pushing against the limits and everybody knew that at the time.”
Which is indeed food for thought.
It is clear from the Rutherford Appleton Labs approach to space travel that the matter of radiation still a prime issue in space travel – whether it be to the Moon or to Mars. Here’s another paragraph from Neil Armstrong which is full of contradictions relative to radiation. He says:
“We know that we can go to Mars – we’ve done it with probes. It is my belief that we can go there with humans and that we could do it now. We could go straight away. We probably do need to know a little bit more about the radiation protection requirements for a trip of that duration. When you are away from a large body – either from the earth or the Moon – you don’t have that protection. The Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field shields us. What there is of the lunar atmosphere provides some shielding. But in free space going to Mars, we are going to be encountering a radiation environment from a complete sphere that is impacting us in all directions. We know a lot about what that flux is. But we don’t have a high confidence level yet in our knowledge of just what the appropriate level for humans is in that kind of environment, for that duration. That needs more study. Going back to the Moon makes sense, not as another flying-the-flag project but rather as a slowly evolving, steady progression of scientific understanding and engineering knowledge.”
NASA states that at 10.12 mbar, the lunar atmosphere is extremely rarefied and its influence in the electrostatic environment near the surface of the Moon is negligible. This environment is instead controlled by the flux of photons and ions from the solar wind, cosmic rays, and galactic cosmic rays. Which Armstrong, being an engineer and involved in space travel, probably knows already. As no doubt he expects us to know that ‘free space’ means ‘in a vacuum’ and that the vacuum that prevails on the way to Mars also prevails out around the Moon for some 86% of its orbit.
So back to the BIS and David Baker’s observations. Yes, obviously radiation is not a static affair in any terms, and therefore any artificial belts do not stay permanently present in the exact same form or energy. However, just because Marcus had clearly not done enough homework and quite a few of the critics of Apollo are not astrophysicists that does not mean that we can’t ask questions, indeed we expect those who do know to tell us all the whole answer not just fob us off with the bit that suits the moment. As it happens the issue of those high latitude nuclear experiments and the possibility safe travel through the known zones of radiation between Earth and the Moon as well as in free space cannot be dismissed as being irrelevant to Apollo because there are ramifications for the future, both in space and on this planet.
Lost in Space
At the time of the manned missions knowledge was perhaps more limited than it is today, but the political pressures were possibly greater. Over and beyond the medical dangers to humans from radiation there were political, military and financial implications to these experiments. Therefore if it was in the experimenting nation’s interests to withhold information they did not wish to disclose for any of the above reasons (and others I might not have thought of) then those who defend Apollo are just as likely to be taken in by the published data as anyone else.
And if for any reason whatsoever, the radiation effects on human beings relative to space travel of the 1950s, 60s and early 70s have either been lost, partially made known, or statistically managed for reasons deemed appropriate at the time such decisions were made, then Houston, Jerry and the BIS, we really do have a problem. We have a problem because the Apollo missions are held to be the proof that we can manage travelling in ‘free space’ for a short distance.
There are many examples of government agencies – both civilian and military – misfiling, losing or destroying their historical records, so such a situation relative to radiation would not be without precedent. It certainly happened on the 1958 Operation Argus. Immediately after the three experiments were over, the task force was dispersed and much of the information also dispersed or destroyed. The public only learnt that Argus had occurred a year later.
Any information not previously destroyed was declassified as late as 1982, and the fact that the only filmed record of the radiation effects on the Argus task force has apparently ‘gone missing’ is noteworthy today because of the statistically highly elevated number of leukaemia cases amongst the veterans of that same task force. Legal cases concerning such matters have demonstrated that the government organisations involved are generally reluctant to take responsibility for past decisions. It therefore follows that with the best will in the world, any publicly-accessible figures given out for radiation effects on human beings whether in space or on the ground, must be treated with caution as there is potentially both political and financial interest in managing any such data.
The 14% Solution
This might also be the time to note that during the six month pre-launch Apollo 11 training schedule, landing the LM was considered the prime objective occupying one-third of the training schedule for Aldrin and Armstrong. EVA activities (one assumes that includes photography) accounted for less than 14% of that 24 week schedule and came to about 7 days each. If the lunar EVAs were primarily of such little importance or turned out to be impossible to achieve for a variety of technical reasons, but the record of same was a priority for divers political reasons including that of manipulating the public interest and the funding of all space exploration, then using publicity photos to represent an ideal lunar EVA would be a political choice.
One BIS member politely and hopefully asked Marcus whether it would be conceivable that NASA had produced some publicity shots which might go some way to explaining many of his anomalies. “Why yes, of course it would,” said Marcus, getting into the BIS swing of things and doing one of those half answers he had been listening to most of the evening. The rest of the sentence goes: “If they were announced as such from the outset.” Because although their photographic and TV record look as if this is the case, NASA has always maintained that the images it has shown were taken on the Moon at the time of the mission EVA. Perhaps that’s another political choice.
So Now You Know . . .
Jerry had started his talk by saying that 400,000 people could not keep a secret as big as ‘faking Apollo’. Those who have actually worked on secret projects consider that to state categorically that big projects cannot be kept secret and government projects even less so, is a clear indication of never having had a security clearance, nor any understanding as to how security works.
There is a process of compartmentalisation which not only includes the physical location of the various elements of the project but also ensures that the secret elements are controlled through an elaborate system of security clearances and by establishing strict criteria for access via need to know lists. The Manhattan project is only one example of this. There is also the matter of personal loyalty and responsibility.
It is possible to keep a secret if you are persuaded that it is the right thing to do, in the interests of your country. As for responsibility, secrecy clearances are binding until the classified subject matter, whether document or project, is declassified. This can be for a lifetime, or for several decades, depending upon the nature of the secret. As far as the Apollo astronauts are concerned, Neil Armstrong says that while NASA was generally unclassified the astronauts had no problems when speaking in public because they were not told anything they did not need to know.
To Err is Human,
In 2003 Armstrong made an interesting comment. Please note the structure of this paragraph as well as its words. Dr Hansen wrote:
'The United States should recognize “A lot of persuasive reasons why we could benefit from a return visit” to the Moon “It’s reachable. We know it’s reachable. We know what it takes to do it. Long before the beginning of the Apollo program, sometime right after the birth of NASA in 1958, someone said that the Moon was the best space objective for mankind because if we could go to the Moon, we would have solved all the essential elements of space flight, which are leaving one gravitational system and going into another and landing on another body in a new environment. If you could do that, by the same token you could go anywhere. In that sense, I think travel back and forth between Earth and Moon remains our first objective.”'
Why were the three words ‘to the Moon’ not actually spoken by Armstrong? Dr Hansen concluded this same chapter with these words:
'It may seem ironic to many, but Neil Armstrong has never considered himself an explorer “What I attended to was the progressive development of flight machinery. My exploration came totally as a by-product of that. I flew to the Moon not so much to go there but as part of developing the systems that would allow that to happen.”'
This chapter was titled To engineer is Human.
To Forgive, Divine
After this BIS debate some group 2 people are apparently shocked that Marcus has become some sort of traitor and gone over to the other side, which in their view is group 1. Not having heard Marcus talk on this subject before, I do not know if he has changed his position as they and the BIS think, but if he has, it appears he’s moved to group 3. Marcus is pleased with the reception he received, and the Lions were pleased that their meeting was a triumph for their reasoning powers, not least because Marcus had joined their society. It may have been a triumph for good manners, but many of the assertions made in the BIS Society News relative to this meeting are rather wide of the mark. In particular the BIS certainly did not answer ’each and every aspect of the photography challenged by Mr. Allen’.
Jerry had stated at the beginning of his talk that he would be "thinking on his feet" when dealing with those anomalous images he had not seen prior to the meeting, and he thought it a fair challenge. Occupied with his own talk the ‘thinking on feet thing’ hadn’t happened. So it was interesting to learn that, during the polite post talk exchange of emails, Jerry asked Marcus if on the occasion of his next visit to the BIS, Marcus would meet with him beforehand in order to sort out some of those unresolved images. Marcus agreed. Within hours Jerry backtracked, said he wouldn’t have time and asked Marcus to send him the images first so he could do some research. The matter went no further for Marcus thought this request superfluous for three reasons: a) he had already seen these images during the talk, b) being on the BIS events committee he would surely have his own copy of the talk, and c) if not, it was available on YouTube.
This exchange took place a week or so before Jerry had proposed to meet Marcus. How much thinking on feet time is needed to deal with those pesky anomalous footprints? However, in even asking for this meeting Jerry had already contradicted the official BIS opinion that ‘each and every aspect of the photography had been answered’ which later appeared in their report of this event – and he would have known that.
This bizarre email exchange only made some sort of sense if Marcus was being set up against any unfavourable criticism the BIS might receive as result of the uploads to YouTube, when the discrepancy between the talks given by Marcus and Jerry would become apparent. If necessary it could legitimately be stated that the BIS (in the form of Jerry Stone) had asked Marcus for a further meeting but that he had not fully complied with their request. Should that ever happen, then you saw it here first: to paraphrase Dickens, Marcus was willing.
On April 18th, Jerry gave another talk on Apollo. Marcus attended. The BIS Lions were charming. Jerry just said ‘Hello’ to Marcus. He didn’t mention those puzzling pictures or their missed meeting.
It was as if it had all been a dream. Everyone asleep with their eyes wide shut.
MDM Bennett, June 2012
1. Jan Lundberg Dark Moon: Apollo and the whistle-Blowers p56
2. Neil Armstrong 2005 biography
Oleg Oleynik, Ph.D.c. Department of Physics and Technology, Kharkov State University, Ukraine
Stanislav Pokrovsky, Ph.D Candidate of Technical Sciences, Russia
General Director of scientific-manufacturing enterprise Project-D-MSK