An exercise in damage limitation
April 1, 2002, The Sky At Night (UK BBC1). If it was intentional to label all Apollo skeptics as fools, then the transmission date of this programme was impeccable. Patrick Moore played Devil's Advocate for Douglas Arnold as they sorted through various bones of contention raised by those who question the Apollo record. In this overview we will address a few of the points raised by this TV programme. To nit-pick our way through every frame would be to repeat the very detailed analysis of Apollo already documented in Dark Moon: Apollo and the Whistle-Blowers and the DVD/video What Happened on the Moon?
The 'C' rock photo. This image from Apollo 16 has a rock interestingly positioned in the foreground with a very obvious 'C' embossed upon it. Douglas Arnold stated that since this 'C' was absent in reproductions of this picture, it must be a hair that somehow got on to this one during duplication. He affirms that on the master copy duplicate (the nearest he can get to the original) and on another photo taken just before this image, there is no 'C' on this rock. Indeed we also printed in our book an example of this image in which the 'C's had been removed.
None of this detracts from our contention that the photographic record was manipulated by whistle-blowers, wishing to draw attention to the problems of Apollo. In fact Arnold's justification (inadvertently no doubt) substantiates it. And could this 'hair' possibly appear twice in the same image? Because Douglas Arnold chose to ignore the fact that we query the presence of two 'C's – one embossed on the rock itself and one on the 'lunar' surface just in front of the rock – in the same photograph (see Dark Moon for full details).
On the subject of radiation, Douglas Arnold claimed that the Van Allen radiation belts had posed no problem to Apollo because astronauts had been venturing into the portion of the inner belt known as the South Atlantic Anomaly (SAA) during Space Shuttle missions since 1981, and they are not exhibiting any signs of radiation damage. This statement is a very misleading answer. To use the SAA as an argument for the safety of the Apollo astronauts can only work if you do not mention all the facts.
Firstly, the inner Van Allen belt extends from about 600 miles to 3,000 miles altitude (and the upper belt extends from around 8,000 miles altitude up to a distance of 24,000 miles into space (according to NASA 1960s), or to between 55,000-64,000 miles (according to James Van Allen 1959 & 1990s). Over the south Atlantic the inner belt dips down until it is only around 200 miles off the surface of the planet, the latitude and longitudinal spread of this SAA vary according to several factors, among which is the solar wind activity.
The strength of its radiation increases with altitude, as does its boundaries, until it completely merges with the inner belt proper at around 600 miles from the surface of the Earth. The Apollo spacecraft would have had to travel through the entirety of the Van Allen belts, and it would have taken (according to NASA) at least an hour to accomplish a one-way trip.
The SAA accounts for most of the radiation the Space Shuttle receives, again according to NASA data. Therefore this radiation is measurable. Yet Arnold stated that since 1981 the Shuttle has been travelling through the SAA with no demonstration of damage to crew or photography – therefore there is no danger from radiation in the Van Allen belts.
|This is being more than economical with the facts, it is downright avaricious! Even if the destination and/or the inclination of its orbit takes the Shuttle through the SAA, not all of its orbits will necessarily be involved. Taking as an example a typical 28.5 degree equatorial orbit, only 6 out of 15 daily passes will enter the SAA. And of those 6 passes, only around 16 minutes of a 96 minute orbit would be spent within this region.
Despite this very small amount of time within the relatively minimal SAA radiation (compared to the Apollo mission time spent within the increasingly stronger belts) the instructions for Shuttle crews are to 'limit EVAs' whilst within the SAA. Not only that, but in the building of the ISS, protection against this relatively minimal SAA radiation has been taken into account, which is more than can be said for any of the Apollo craft.
Having virtually inferred that every Shuttle mission is travelling through the SAA on a regular basis, Arnold then stated that since film is sensitive to radiation the tens of thousands of images returned since 1981 from the Shuttle would have been damaged if the radiation in the SAA was an issue. As there is no sign of any such problem then there are no radiation problems! He then proceeded to lump the Moon pictures into the same argument: no visible damage = no radiation. This is not a valid argument.
Nor is it a reflection of the true circumstances since it is demonstrably possible to take all the Shuttle photos when not inside the SAA. These perfect Shuttle images (and those allegedly taken around the Moon) demonstrate that they were not taken within an environment where radiation could damage them. Finally, while Arnold made this point about the safety of the SAA, the image of an astronaut working outside the Shuttle was flashed onto our TV screens – yet another manipulation of the truth.
Somewhat obviously, the further up into the SAA you travel, the worse it gets in terms of radiation. As far as the ISS is concerned, NASA currently considers that 23 minutes of any orbit going within the SAA is acceptable exposure time to radiation. Not only because the ISS is somewhat protected from this radiation but also because the remaining seventy odd minutes of orbit apparently permits the human body to recuperate from the radiation effects inflicted upon it whilst in the SAA! How then would it have been OK for Apollo astronauts to travel through the belts for up to at least 60 minutes at a go, in totally unprotected craft, with no recuperation time? Beyond the belts, as we know, the dangers from radiation do not disappear.
Douglas stated that the Apollo astronauts fortunately did not encounter any solar flares. If they had done so, he acknowledged that they would have been at varying degrees of risk. These solar particle events (SPEs) cannot be predicted with any accuracy, and if they had encountered unexpected activity, where would the Apollo astronauts have gone to find safe shelter during an Apollo mission? The question we must all ask is how, 34 years ago, was NASA able to predict what is still unpredictable today? This question was not addressed.
Star fields. Douglas Arnold is correct in saying that the stars would not be seen around the Moon since the photographs taken were not exposed for the background stars – but most Apollo skeptics do not dispute this. They ask 'Why isn't there such a photograph?' They consider that from the point of view of an exploration of a totally new environment, the sheer absence from the public record of even one single colour time exposure of the stars alone (rather than as part of the lunar landscape) is questionable. Imagine a headline in the press: The Sky at Night – as seen from the Moon.
When dealing with shadows, Arnold ignored many of the serious shadow anomalies discussed in both the book and DVD/video. And even when selecting a picture with rocks in the foreground and LM in the background, he chose to ignore the rocks located in the centre and to the left of the image that also have shadows diverging from that of the LM, yet are not on any mounds.
When tackling the question of how detail is visible in the pitch-black shadow side of the LM standing on the lunar surface, Arnold, by way of demonstration, held up a white card vertically and said that a reflector would have filled-in images and 'teased out' the detail. This was a wholly inadequate answer as to how the shadow side of the LM was filled-in with an amount of light far greater than could be achieved with a simple reflector.
We note that they had the intelligence not to consider as valid light reflectors 'earthshine', or the gold Mylar on the LM, or the surface of the Moon itself. (The illuminated surface would have been horizontal, not vertical as in Arnold's white card, and again ineffective in filling-in shadow detail.) No, instead Douglas Arnold claimed that an astronaut himself probably acted as a reflector when, for example, a fellow astronaut was descending the ladder or standing in the black shadow of the LM.
However, as analysis of the 'live' TV coverage of Apollo 11 has shown, when Aldrin descended the ladder, at times Armstrong himself was also standing in the shade and therefore totally unable to act as a reflector. Moreover, Arnold did not in any way address the 'hot spots' of light on the side of the LM that was in total shadow.
Using tiny models in a studio (that benefited from the overall studio lighting) was not a valid demonstration for this question as to how shadow sides of astronauts were illuminated or filled-in. The toy astronauts were somewhat smaller than the 'reflector' created by Douglas Arnold's own hand. Yet, even with this 'giant pink reflector', in order to obtain a very minimal alteration to the amount of light hitting the astronaut standing in the 'shadow', Arnold was virtually obliged to have them hug each other! No pictures that we have seen were taken at such a close proximity as demonstrated by Arnold.
In fact it would be more accurate to say that by moving his 'sunlit man' back and forth in front of 'shadow man', in order to show how much light was being added, what we really saw was how 'sunlit man' partially blocked the ambient studio lighting!
Douglas Arnold considered the Apollo photographic record "marvellous", "magical" and "really literally and metaphorically out of this world" – surely a metaphorical photograph is the representation of an event, not the actual event itself?
As for the Apollo 13 landing site being in darkness, Arnold has either misunderstood the point we have made or attempted to avoid it by majoring on the date of landing. For the record, and according to astronaut Jim Lovell, the Apollo 13 crew trained for a mission that would see them sitting in the LM on the lunar surface about 100 hours after launch: At 19:00 hours on 15th April Houston Time.
We have emphasised the fact that the Fra Mauro landing site was in darkness for the entire time that this allegedly stricken Apollo 13 crew were supposed to be out around the Moon (and until they were 19,000 miles away from it on their return trip). Because despite this fact, in the officially sanctioned film Apollo 13, the astronaut/actors stated that they could see their landing site.
Then they spotted other lunar landmarks and gave totally incorrect descriptions of the lunar terrain as they progressed around the Moon. Our question was – and still is – why was it necessary to turn the alleged historical facts of the Apollo 13 mission into blatant nonsense? Especially since the director Ron Howard is on record as having stated that in the making of Apollo 13: " ... it required no 'Hollywoodizing' ... all you had to do was fall back on historical fact."
Moore summed up the programme with the words: "Well I think that no one will really now take it [the Apollo hoax theory] seriously". Despite this apparent satisfaction with the results of their efforts – it was remarkable that both participants made major 'fluffs' – always at points in their scripts when they were justifying the 'reality' of Apollo. Even with the help of carefully selected words and images, this attempt at validating the Apollo landings ultimately turned out to be a woefully inadequate exercise in damage limitation. It was certainly foolish to think that such complex issues could be adequately dealt with in a twenty-minute time slot, even if it was 1st April.
Aulis Online, April 2002