Apollo Investigation

Detailed analysis of an image from Apollo 15

by K. Chris Caldwell

One Photograph to Reveal Them All

apollo 15 badge
The amateurish quality of the Apollo photographic evidence presented in support of the Apollo missions makes it very evident that most of the photos from the Apollo Moon landing missions contain glaring anomalies. One photo from Apollo 15, AS15-86-11603, stands out above the rest. It encompasses a large number of the same problems that are present in many other Apollo photos, but this one has three further anomalies – two of omission, and one of addition.


Apollo 15, AS15-86-11603 click to enlarge – use back arrow on browser to return


In nearly all of the Apollo lunar surface images there are artificial lines that fall between the foreground and background, as other researchers have also observed. One can call these lines ‘stagelines,' although they could also result from photo compositing. Some photos have one stageline, and others have several.

These lines appear to form between the artificial boundaries of the foreground stage and the fake backgrounds used to create the illusion of a moonscape.

Figure 1
Figure 1 click to enlarge

In Figure 1 (yellow and blue circles) there are two distinct stagelines running through the scene. Jarring changes in shading, coloring, and terrain are quite evident between the foreground and the 'middle-ground' (blue circle), and again between the middle-ground and background (yellow circles). The lines cannot be explained by intervening terrain, like a depression, as there are none evident – especially in the one most forward (blue circle).

And stagelines are not the only artificial breaks in terrain present in the image.

Terrain Carpet Lines

Also highlighted in Figure 1 (red circle) is another type of artificial line between stage and terrain. This could be described as the 'terrain-carpet' line. Terrain-carpet lines are not as prevalent in the lunar surface photographic record as the stagelines are, but when they become visible, as here, they are often quite revealing.

Apollo15 bootprint
Figure 1a Anomalous footprint from
Apollo 15 lower right corner
click to enlarge

This feature appears to be a ‘carpet' of terrain laid over the stage just behind the main foreground. The supposition is that the terrain-carpet permits stagehands access to the foreground set, and can be moved and/or rolled up out of the way as needed.

The use of a terrain-carpet would lessen the chance of marring the scene with inadvertent footprints such as this literal faux pas in the lower right segment of this image also from Apollo 15. The footprint is from a totally different tread (Figure 1a) to that of the astronaut’s bootprint overlying it.

Not only is the terrain-carpet line visible in Figure 1 as it flows through the scene, but in places its edge sticks up above the edge of the foreground to its front (right-middle of the red circle).

Also of note is how the foreground rover tracks and other disturbances abruptly change at the terrain-carpet line. To the left of the red circle the rover tracks just seem to unnaturally disappear, as if the rover had taken flight. The rover then apparently ‘lands' from above in the foreground.

Figure 2
Figure 2 click to enlarge
Rover or Magic Carpet

Missing rover tracks are often found in the Apollo photographic record. In Figure 2, the lack of rover tracks is quite apparent.

Rover tracks are not present either in front or behind the rear rover wheels, and more importantly, are not present under the chassis either. The astronauts' activities cannot be the explanation for the lack of tracks, as there is little to no marring of the lunar soil where the tracks should be.

Especially free of potential marring by astronaut activity is the area on the left side of the rover, the rear and the front (red circles). There is no marring of the area, and still no rover tracks are visible.

It is clear that the rover cannot have been driven into its position, either forward or reverse, instead it seems to have been lowered at the end of its trackless flight from the edge of the terrain-carpet’s edge.

Figure 3
Figure 3 click to enlarge

Astronaut a Glow

A lot of evidence of the image's fabrication is visible in the illuminated areas of the image, but then some of the evidence is in the shadows as well. There is something seriously wrong with the shadows, both on, and those cast by the astronaut, as seen in Figure 3.

The shadows fall to the lower-left of the scene at about a 30 to 45 degree angle from the right. However, the shadow of the astronaut’s left foot (yellow circle) runs in about a 15 to 20 degree angle UPWARD to the left. The little mound of soil to the front left of the astronaut’s left foot should be shrouded in his leg’s shadow, but it is not.

Under the rover, and to the front of the right rear wheel, there appears to be a shadow of something (blue circle), but it cannot be from the astronaut’s right leg, as the rover’s chassis (red circle) would block it. This mysterious shadow also falls at a steeper downward angle than the others. It ultimately, and impossibly, converges under the rover with the right rear rover wheel’s shadow.

Maybe an additional source of light can shed some light on the subject.

Mystical Light or Fill Light

Figure 4
Figure 4 click to enlarge


Figure 5
Figure 5 click to enlarge


Figure 6
Figure 6 click to enlarge

Figure 4 depicts an impossible situation if the sun was actually the only source of light on the Moon.

The ‘sun' is over to the right at a rather low angle. There results, as would be expected, a darker area on the left side of the rover. There are also shadows extending from the rover’s left side wheels. However, on the rover’s right, the astronaut is illuminated quite evenly in both the rear, sun-exposed side and the front, shaded side.

This indicates a second light source, a photographic fill light, that is filling in the shadows just on the astronaut. This results in a better image, but is very a revealing aspect of the hoax.

In Figure 5, the fill light’s presence is positively revealed in two reflection spots (blue circle) on the right-rear fender of the rover.

Some might argue that these are reflections of sunlight coming up from the lunar terrain (below), however both spots, especially the top one, appear on the fender at a part that is angled up and away from the lunar surface – the reflected light is coming from above, and not from below.

Not only is the fill-light emanating from above, but the reflections on the fender indicate that the light source is to the left of the photographer. This becomes important later in the revelation of the most damaging smoking-gun present in AS15-86-11603.

With all that extra light, there should be more shadows than expected, not fewer. But the imagers seem to have missed a few, maybe there was a dearth of 'shadow-inserters'?

Phantom Rover casts no Shadow – Smoking Gun One

In Figure 6 it can be seen that the bed and chassis of the rover do not cast shadows below them. The bed of the rover sits at about 14.17 inches (36cm) above the terrain, and should cast a shadow underneath the rover. The rover’s shadow should be visible at about the halfway point through the blue circle, but there is none.

Together with the missing tracks and the missing shadows, it is possible that the rover may not have rolled, or even been ‘flown' into its location, but could equally have just been pasted in.

The rover is not the only object that is missing a shadow or two, or three.

The Light Angels or a Fill Light? – Smoking Gun Two

Figure 7
Figure 7

Figure 7 is a close up of the object in the far right-middle of the photo. This is a SEP pallet which was supposedly used to transport experiments to the Moon. It seems to have been discarded to the side. However, upon closer inspection, it is clear that there is something quite wrong with this SEP pallet.

Immediately apparent is that the pallet casts no shadows at all. None. As the mound of soil to the front of the pallet does (blue circle), the pallet should cast a 30 to 45 degree shadow downwards away from itself, but it does not. Additionally, the top curved bar (red circle) should also cast a shadow to the left of the SEP pallet, but it too does not.

Interestingly, the bottom curved bar is brightly illuminated, more so than even the components of the pallet that are elevated higher into the source of light. The bottom bar is so brightly lit that it even casts a reflection upon the pallet (yellow circle). Impossibly, the top curved bar, and the top-side of the pallet, are both less illuminated than the bottom bar.

The SEP pallet’s apparent illumination configuration, and lack of shadows, is contrary to reason. Phantom shadows, mystical light, and magic rovers, but a light that cannot see its reflection may be a ‘vampire'.

‘Vampire' Light Back and Left

Figure 8
Figure 8 click to enlarge

Figure 8a
Figure 8a enhanced to show mask line

As mentioned previously, the fill-light reflection on the rover's right rear fender in Figure 5 indicates that a fill-light was utilized, and is to the rear of the photographer. In figure 8, this fill-light should be reflected in the astronaut’s visor, but it is not. The astronaut’s visor is also darker than in other photos of astronauts wearing helmets supposedly on the Moon.

The area of the astronaut’s visor (blue circle) where the reflection of the fill-light should be appears to have been covered or masked, with a black overlay. At the bottom of the overlay is a straight line, with a gap. At this line, there is an abrupt change in colorization between the visor below, and the overlay above.

At the top of the overlay a straight line can also be seen in figure 8a cutting unnaturally across the visor. The visor a redder color in the enhanced version can then be seen again just above this line.

But most damning of all is where the overlay crosses the right side of the astronaut's helmet as can be seen in the enlarged figure 8. The right side of the helmet is clearly covered over by the overlay, and an out of place right-angled corner (red arrow) is formed.

The overlay’s left edge, along with the right-angled corner, extends not only out over the right side of the astronaut's helmet, but also out over part of the background as well – a truly amateurish and revealing job.


It has been shown that Apollo image AS15-86-11603 is riddled with anomalies, some so egregious that they can only be labeled as 'smoking-guns’. There are bad shadows, missing shadows, added fill-lights, and an amateurishly applied overlay.

Such a poorly-produced photograph infers that the image makers were either unconcerned or unaware that future generations would one day be able to analyse these anomalies.

When it is becoming increasingly obvious that multiple obstacles – especially the challenge of space radiation – have compromised the Apollo missions, then what does that say about the intentions of those allowing the release of these images? Sadly, the problems in this Apollo 15 photograph lead amateurs such as myself to the only possible conclusion: that such anomalies are evidence of a failed lunar mission and a successful hoax – until now. Our eyes are opened.

K. Chris Caldwell

Aulis Online, February 2016

About the Author

K. Chris Caldwell has Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Texas at Dallas. He is now semi-retired and living in Mexico. He has been an avid amateur black and white and color photographer, and is a computer aficionado.

Mr. Caldwell has no specific qualifications in photographic or space program analysis, which reinforces the points made in this article.

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