Updated with an Editor's Note
"He never once thought it probable, or possible, that the Minister had deposited the letter immediately beneath the nose of the whole world, by way of best preventing any portion of that world from perceiving it."
Edgar Allan Poe, The Purloined Letter
The Russian Lunokhod-1 'Moonwalker 1' lunar rover played a far greater role in understanding the true nature of the surface of the Moon than ever imagined.
Fig 1. Full size model of the Soviet Lunokhod-1 eight-wheeled lunar rover. This 756kg, 4.42m long vehicle had a wheelbase 2.22m x 1.6m. Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics, CC 0 1.0 Universal
November 1970 – Lunokhod-1 became the first remote-controlled roving vehicle to freely move across the surface of another celestial body, the Moon. The landing site was at 38.2378°N 35.0017°W where, in the northwestern part of Mare Imbrium (Sea of Rains), the rover discovered the surprising make up of many lunar 'rocks'.
Fig 2. The Lunokhod-1 research area in Mare Imbrium occupied a position located between the claimed Apollo 11 land Apollo 12 landing sites.
Fig 3. Panorama of part of the study area of the Lunokhod-1 rover.
An unforeseen lack of ‘solidity’ of many lunar rocks protruding above the lunar surface was revealed when the wheels of the Lunokhod-1 rover rolled over them during the 1970 mission. The results of these traverses of this part of the Moon's surface have shown that along with denser rocks, which are obviously fragments of bedrock, there are numerous rock-like formations with a relatively loose structure.
These formations outwardly differ very little from the denser rocks, but they crumble easily under the action of relatively minimal pressure.
Fig 3.1. Destruction of a rock-like feature by the wheels of Lunokhod-1.
The above photograph (figure 3.1) is a close up view of a rock-like formation with a height of 200 mm which was destroyed when the lunar rover ran over it. This destruction is characterised by the formation of smooth vertical surfaces and crushing of the splintered fragments caused by the lunar rover's wheels. Significantly, the roll and trim of Lunokhod-1 did not appreciably change when encountering this ‘rock', indicating the minimal integral strength of this feature.
This rock-like formation consisted of coalesced fine-grained material which covers virtually the entire lunar surface. Analysis of photographs and panoramas with Lunokhod-1 wheel tracks show that there are many clumps of fine-grained lunar regolith seated on the surface which were easily destroyed when the rover encountered them, see figure 4.
Fig. 4. The lunar surface is populated with numerous clumps of loose, fine-grained material. Inset: the field of view of Lunokhod camera N2.
The rover had a total of 4 cameras, this photo was taken by camera N2 or N4. (The rod seen in this image is part of a whip antenna (also 4 in total) which received the rover's radio commands from Earth). Two cameras (N2 and N4) transmitted panoramas close to the horizontal, their panning axes were deflected from the vertical by 15º. These panoramas served as the main source for studying the structure of the lunar relief and conducting topographic surveys. Each camera covered an angle of slightly more than 180º, the rest of the azimuthal angle was shielded by the Lunokhod-1 body.
The mechanical properties of the various lunar surface features vary widely. Along with relatively dense lunar rocks there are clumps consisting of adhered material with low density. The results and findings of the Lunokhod-1 mission were eventually published in two volumes, the first of which appeared in a 1971 scientific study published by the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.
The first volume
Lunokhod-1 mobile laboratory on the Moon, Volume 1, Leonovich A. K., et al. In: Vinogradov A. P. (ed.). 128 p. Nauka Press, Moscow, 1971, in Russian.
The significance of this publication is that, other than in this book Lunokhod-1 mobile laboratory on the Moon, nothing has ever been recorded in any other scientific journal or publication detailing the nature of these soft, rock-like formations found on the lunar surface.
This academic work is worthy of closer examination because the findings featured in volume 1, Chapter 8 regarding the actual nature of the lunar surface are nothing short of revelatory. Authored by A.K. Leonovich, V.V. A. V. Gromov Rybakov, V.K. Petrov, P.S. Pavlov, I.I. Cherkasov, V.V. Shvarev. Chapter 8, is titled "Investigations of the mechanical properties of the lunar soil on the self-propelled vehicle Lunokhod-1" and in Section 3 we find: Some results of studies of the mechanical properties of the lunar soil, (pp. 86-88).
Volume 1 was based on the results of the operation of Lunokhod-1 over three lunar ‘days' – November, December, and January. It was compiled and written under the editorship of Academician Vinogradov. The publication’s authors worked extremely quickly. All the research was fully tabulated, chapters completed, edited, and peer reviewed, by May 14, 1971. Then two typed copies of the layout were provided to Glavlit (the USSR censorship agency), where it passed the censorship process, and was sent on to the Nauka publishing house with permission number T-03513. All this was completed within a three-week period: on June 4 it went to print and a total of 3,200 copies were printed.
From start to stop producing volume 1 had been achieved within four months. This was a true feat in the realm of academic publishing – but why the urgency? Unfortunately volume 1 doesn't address that point. However, it would be correct to describe the process of writing and publishing this book as a 'rush job'. Usually much more time would be taken to complete such a work.
The second volume
Lunokhod-1 mobile laboratory on the Moon, Volume 2, V. L. Barsukov (ed.) 183 p. Nauka Press, Moscow, 1978, in Russian.
Volume 2 includes the results of studies carried out over the fourth to the eighth lunar ‘day’, from February to September 1971, and then combines the data to give a general analysis of all Lunokhod-1 data obtained during the entire operation of the mission. Its print run was significantly smaller than volume 1, as only 1200 copies of volume 2 were eventually published in 1978.
Yet the whole production took so much longer. This volume 2 informs the reader that from the moment the first lunar rover stopped working September 14, 1971 until the signing off of volume 2 (December 30, 1977) the process took six years. During that time, Academician Vinogradov, the editor of volume 1 had died, as had the chief designer of the lunar rovers, Georgy Babakin. Volume 2 of this research was dedicated to them both.
A production time of 75 months compared to 4 months for volume 1 means that volume 2 was in preparation almost 19 times longer than volume 1. Notably, this time period covered the same procedure for obtaining approval from Glavlit for permit number T-20843. But this time the process took much longer for a book that was significantly shorter: Volume 2 contained only seven chapters compared with 11 chapters in volume 1.
However, it is not so much the speed of publication, nor even the fact that the Apollo missions are mentioned more often that are the main differences between the two volumes. It is the fact that Barsukov’s Lunokhod-1, in contrast to that of Vinogradov’s, had apparently ceased to be interested in studying the mechanical properties of the lunar soil. This was despite the fact that the vehicle was equipped with a special device for assessing the trafficability (the quality of a terrain that permits passage) which was attached near the ninth wheel, see figure 5.
Fig 5. The eight wheels of the rover were each fitted with an individual power drive and independent torsional suspension; each hub contained an electric motor, reduction gear, a brake, a mechanism for disconnecting the power drive. There was a ninth trailing wheel (illustrated here) which was equipped with a retraction mechanism. To the right of this is the PrOP device (penetrometer) which measured the physico-mechanical properties of the lunar surface material.
Among volume 2’s missing data was the very important Chapter 8 from volume 1, "Investigations of mechanical properties of the lunar regolith on the self-propelled vehicle Lunokhod-1" which detailed the studies measuring the physico-mechanical properties of the surface material in the Mare Imbrium region with the PrOP device (penetrometer).
However, despite Chapter 2 of Barsukov’s volume 2 being titled "Operational characteristics of a self-propelled vehicle in lunar conditions" with a subsection titled Study of the traction-coupling properties of the chassis of Lunokhod-1 and the mechanical properties of the lunar soil, there was no additional information. The text turned out to be a very much shortened and edited version of Chapter 8 lifted from volume 1. Details of the same type of rock-like formations published in volume 1 have completely disappeared from the scientific discussion, along with the photographs, and any mention of the rock-like formations and other loosely-bound clumps of material and hillocks. Moreover, the very word ‘rocks' was put in brackets and replaced, wherever possible, with 'coarse-grained material’. The Barsukov version of Chapter 8 ended with these words:
Studies of the mechanical properties of the lunar soil during the fourth and subsequent lunar days continued, and their main goal was to obtain sufficiently large statistical material to establish a relationship with the morphological formations of the lunar surface. During the operation of Lunokhod-1, a total of 537 measurements were taken by the PrOP device along the route which was 10,540 m long. (Vol. 2, p. 28)
Must one presume there was so much statistical material that it took more than six years to establish a full understanding of the morphological formations of the lunar surface. Or could something else explain such a surprising loss of interest in the mechanical properties of lunar rocks and other lunar formations? Especially considering the revelatory findings made by the research team.
Although the text of volume 2 itself does not explain this interesting oddity, there is a clue in the conclusion on the very last page concerning the censoring process: it states that the book was typeset on August 09, 1977, and cleared for printing on December 30, 1977 – thus the censorship assessment took four months and three weeks. This time period is longer than it took to write and publish the entirety of volume 1.
Fear of discovery of a deception
The ever-present threat to go back to the Moon with a view of confirming what remained at the claimed Apollo landing sites is a continuing, perhaps nerve-racking reality for Russia's overseas space partners. The engineers and geologists of the US space agency NASA were undoubtedly the most attentive readers of volume 1 in 1971 – especially the findings regarding the true nature of the ‘soft' low density Moon rocks discovered by the Lunokhod-1 rover.
As a result, these findings from the fledgling research of Lunokhod-1 were available to be taken into account in the later Apollo missions. But any fundamentals that were in error with regard to NASA's depiction of the lunar surface in the earlier Apollo missions could no longer be corrected.
Fig 6. The Lunokhod-3 rover now resides in the NPO Lavochkin museum, Khimki, near Moscow.
Then in the USSR, it was only after cancellation of the Lunokhod-3 launch in the summer of 1977 (due to an alleged lack of launchers and funding), that permission was finally given to publish the stripped-down, heavily-edited volume 2 containing some of the results and findings obtained from the Lunokhod-1 mission. But what remained was still enough to turn the entire Apollo program to dust – even if volume 1 had never been released.
This was because the lunar surface (as revealed in the two volumes) which outwardly seemed completely dead and completely immovable, is now known to harbour powerful denudation processes which are continually raging and that as a result of these findings it is now impossible to ignore the lunar erosion processes. It was all far too late for the unfortunate creators of the US version of the Moon and the early Apollo record concerning lunar geology, as they didn't foresee or consider that these processes might exist. One can only be aware of the deafening silence surrounding the United States and its space agency.
Lunar craters follow suit
The trouble with the editorial decision to edit out certain information regarding these rocks was that even if most of the data concerning the "Investigation of the mechanical properties of the lunar soil on the Lunokhod-1 self-propelled vehicle" had disappeared from Volume 2, the section on the lunar craters remained.
No matter how many stones or rocks were removed from the text, there was simply no escaping the lunar craters. They are everywhere. The craters can even be seen from Earth, but unlike the rock-like formations with their loose compositional structure – which even with help of the on-site Surveyor program observing the Moon at close range cannot be distinguished from solid rocks – the lunar craters are highly visible.
Virtually all the lunar craters have been counted, classified, named and inventoried – they are an inexhaustible source of livelihood for many academic researchers. The craters have been divided into three main morphological classes – A, B and C. It should be emphasised that the observed set of craters is a series of gradual transitions from fresh craters to mature ones, and then to those that are heavily destroyed.
The degree of morphological manifestation of the bowl-shaped (most common) craters depends on their age. In the process of evolution of forms, destruction prevails. Among craters of equal size, clearly defined class A craters are the younger formations, and diffuse forms of class C are the most ancient.
Class C craters are more common than Class A and B craters combined. (vol. 1, pp. 102-103)
Fig 7. The area of Mare Imbrium, the Sea of Rains, which is free from large craters. The material in the class C craters (shaded) is most directly related to the composition of the soft rock-like formations.
When comparing craters of different morphological classes, there is a clear correlation between the degree of morphological severity of the crater and the number of rocks in the crater, and near the crater zone, the distinction becomes obvious. All other things being equal, the maximum number of dense rocks is associated with class A craters and the minimum number with class C craters. (vol. 1, page 105)
This means that the craters and low density rocks are related, as they were generated simultaneously during impact events. Why do rocks spread so unevenly around the old and new formations? – there is no direct unambiguous answer in either volume 1 or 2... But,
The studies carried out give reason to believe that the identified classes of rocks, as well as the morphological classes of craters, represent a continuous series of evolutionary changes in the morphology of rocks with a primary angular shape under the influence of lunar denudation processes. (vol. 2, p. 119)
It was found that in the area of research of Lunokhod-1 there are powerful processes that can be described as denudation, bearing in mind the specificity of their development on the Moon. (vol. 2, p. 130)
Here it must be said that the term denudation (from the Latin denudatio, outcrop) in volume 2 is not used at all in volume 1, where the term destruction is preferred. The point however is not in the terms, it's the fact that the disappearance of rocks from the surface of the Moon is not explained in any way.
The fact that in volume 1 the authors made at least some attempt to explain the rock-like structures without broad generalisations is quite understandable, as the research had only just commenced. But then, during work on volume 2, the authors themselves disappeared along with the mention of any rock-like formations.
So, following the example of the Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow (GEOCHI), without asking too much about the physics of the denudation process, let us address three simpler questions – what categories of rocks are on the Moon? How many hard rocks are there now? And how was that data processed?
By great good fortune, as with the craters, the rock types were categorised by the authors and they classified everything into the same three classes, plus four types.
Fig 8. Morphologic classification of rocks at the Lunokhod-1 Mare Imbrium study site.
I-IV, Morphologic rock types: irregular (I), pyramidal (II), prismatic (III) and flattened (IV).
1-3, Morphologic classes of the rocks: primary angular (1), rounded-angular (2), rounded (3).
In morphological terms, the identified types of rocks can be subdivided according to the degree of destruction into three main classes [see fig. 8 above, 1-3] corresponding in a first approximation to the three main morphological classes of craters of the investigated sizes.
Such a correlation of morphological classes of rocks and craters is clearly manifested only for craters of a certain size interval (from 10 to 50 m). Smaller craters usually do not penetrate through loose regolith to the dense rocks, and therefore few fresh rocks are associated with them. (vol. 2, p. 119)
Having established an accurate correlation, the research team further describes the methodology for studying the coarse-grained material and, along the way, exposes itself, GEOCHI, the United States’ Apollo program, and censorship.
The nature (structure) of their surface and strength properties are closely related to the morphological class of rocks. During the experiments of Lunokhod-1 it was found that fresh rocks are characterized by high strength. In a number of cases, when the wheels of the rover hit rocks of this class (10-20 cm in diameter), the maximum pressure reached several tens of kilograms per square centimetre. However, traces of destruction of fresh rocks in most cases were not observed, with the exception of some rocks of a flattened shape.
The strength properties of rocks in the second class are also comparatively high, however, many of them split along cracks separately into large fragments when the wheels of the rover encountered them. So, for example, on the rim of a 400-meter crater of an intermediate class AB, as one of the wheels of the rover ran into a slightly-rounded rock 50 cm long and 20 cm high, this rock, morphologically close to those of the second class, was riddled with cracks. When the lunar rover ran it over, a bar-shaped fragment 20 cm long and 5 cm wide broke away. (vol. 1, p. 86) – [see again figure 3.1 above]
The rocks of the third class (rounded) differ from those considered by the roughness of the surface on a scale of several millimetres, at the limit of resolution of panoramas completely covered with pits, clumps, grooves and numerous small cracks.
Note that this is a gradual transformation from A > B > C and sometimes it’s difficult to attribute a crater to a particular class. The intermediate class AB doesn’t mean it consists of both classes A and B. It means that the craters are between A and B. Not as young as A and not yet decayed as B. The same goes for class BC. Less than 1% of its lifespan, the crater exists in the form of class A, and then about 2% of the time in the form of class AB, then about 20% of the time the crater exists in the form B and, finally, 30-40% time in the form BC and C. (vol. 2, p. 113).
The following figure illustrates the ratio of the three classes of craters found on the Moon.
Fig 9. Ratios of lunar craters of the three different morphological classes with diameters in the range of 0.15-10 m. In percentage terms, (A + AB) = 3.0%, B = 21.2%, (BC + C) = 75.8%.
The key question is: how many hard rocks are on the Moon now? According to this ratio, (A + AB): B: (BC + C) = 1: 7: 25. The answer is not more than 5%.
If the Apollo astronauts had indeed actually visited the Moon, inevitably they would have found it extremely difficult to collect all of the claimed 382kg of hard, dense lunar rocks.
The Lunokod-1 mission findings equate the young craters > young rocks; the old craters > old rocks. This fundamental conclusion does not rely on any specific landing site. The rover observed all crater types, therefore it is reasonable to conclude that the decay and erosion of all lunar rocks has everything to do with factors like constant particle bombardment, impacts of meteorites of all sizes from space, high-velocity impacts of cosmic dust particles and sputtering (the removal of surface material at the atomic level) by the impact of high-energy ions from exposure to the solar wind and cosmic rays.
In fact cosmic rays of all energies impinge on the lunar surface all the time. Apart from this relentless radiation exposure, temperature gradients over millions of years have constantly eroded and denuded the entire surface of the Moon.
In the light of the above factors it highly noteworthy that no such soft, low density rocks were ever reported during or following any Apollo mission. This is despite NASA having allegedly landed astronauts at six different sites including those similar to the region studied by Lunokhod-1.
These findings regarding the nature of the lunar surface are highly damaging for all lunar deception agents. Undoubtedly, this matter is the biggest secret of the Moon – erosion and denudation. Soft, low density material but looking like solid rock is lying in the most conspicuous places, all in full view. A most inconvenient fact that scientists do not wish to either ‘see' or acknowledge. The sad reality is that academics either avert their eyes from this ‘secret', or they simply ignore these highly-significant findings.
The Moon of the Russian Lunokhod-1 lunar rover is not at all the same as the Moon of the Apollo missions. The authors said this in Volume 1 of 1971 and despite censorship managed to repeat it in Volume 2 of 1978. Whether these revelations about the true nature of the lunar surface were published by chance, or whether the authors deliberately ‘smuggled' or 'sneaked' the information through the system, bypassing official censorship, is not important. What is important is that they did what they needed to do in order to get the message across.
English translation from the Russian by BigPhil
Aulis Online, December 2021
About the Author
Researcher Alexander Boyko gained his Shipbuilding University diploma in the USSR, majoring in electrical engineering. His hobbies are in the arena of military history specializing in the history of the Navy. He became interested in the hoaxed NASA Moon program after being prompted by the strange circumstances of the accident with the Soviet submarine K-8.
Editor’s Note Dec 2021
This study has revealed that class C rocks, those of low density, make up at least 70% of the rocks on the lunar surface. As reported, scientists at NASA in the US were said to be some of the most attentive readers of Lunokhod-1 mobile laboratory on the Moon in 1971. Just seven months later the Apollo 16 mission took place, and when the film magazine rolls were released among them was one very particular image.
We are of course referring to the now famous ‘C' rock photo, AS16-107-17446:
This is a picture of another space agency's lunar surface vehicle – NASA’s Apollo rover.
Originally discovered by Ralph René, this 'rock' became more widely known after it was discussed further in Dark Moon: Apollo and the Whistle-Blowers in 1999. It is obviously not intended to be seen as a real rock.
The exceptional qualities of this particular rock taken together with its precise positioning infer that this image holds a message. And the message is the important factor here. It is less relevant as to whether this anomaly appears in any other photograph – it was on this one, and that’s what matters. There are many instances of consecutive Apollo images having differences when there should be none.
The viewers' attention is drawn to this anomalous, lettered rock via the lunar roving vehicle, echoing the Lunokhod-1 and the ‘soft’ rock discoveries. Reinforced by its official designation this scene is rather appropriately listed by the Lunar and Planetary Institute as STA 4; SPL 394 ROCK. Yes 'rock'.
All the lunar surface still photographs were taken on 70mm film with Hasselblad cameras loaded with black&white or colour reversal roll film which after processing produced monochrome negatives or colour transparencies. When reproducing colour photographs in pre-digital days, high quality book printers generally preferred transparencies for copying to produce CMYK separations, or for professional scanning via a drum scanner prior to making up pages for colour printing.
This was the Apollo 16 image that was made available to the public and the media. It was reproduced on p164 of The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Space Technology: A Comprehensive History of Space Exploration by Kenneth Gatland, with a foreword by Arthur C. Clarke (Salamander Books) in 1981, with the ‘C’ clearly visible on the ‘rock’ – as observed by René in 1992.
Ralph René's discovery was hastily addressed by NASA (Photoshop® 1.0 was available from early 1990). The presence of the ‘C‘ on the rock was said to be a stray ‘hair’ or some such, and the scanned image duly adjusted/replaced. However, nothing could be done about the photograph and as it appears in this publication, which stands as the demonstration that the ‘C’ is what it purports to be – a letter not a hair. Any claims to the contrary are therefore totally invalid.
If, after this photo was released, NASA wanted to conceal its embarrassment at the revelation, most likely the agency would need to propose it was something like a hair. The agency was certainly NOT going to say “Oh yes! Well, it has a C on that rock because we’ve just heard that the new evidence from the Russians suggests that most rocks on the Moon are category C rocks.”
Significantly, there are no other known examples of a 'hair' like this on any other Apollo photograph. Moreover, as pointed out in Dark Moon, there is another, smaller, letter C on the soft regolith in front of this rock as well. In the current versions of images AS16-107-17445&6 the C is absent from the rock itself but the C on the lunar soil, being much harder to spot, has escaped adjustments and remains in situ – as does the anamalous rock itself.
This prop rock with its distinct C undoubtedly equates with the low density class C rocks that populate the lunar surface. Ralph René suggested the rock was made of wet, folded newspaper and paste, or papier-mâché – well, in a way he was spot on – you can hardly get much more low density than that!
Bearing in mind that the lunar rocks were classified into three morphological types labelled A, B and C, and that the Lunokhod-1 findings concluded that the majority of the lunar rocks are in the 3rd class C category, consider the following:
The C rock is in horizontal square c, and vertical square 3, occupying around 70% of the square. In chess, pawn to c3 is the Saragossa opening. So now look at the ‘C' rock image combined with the numbering grid system as used on a chessboard:
The Saragossa opening – pawn to c3 – at least 70% of the ‘C’ rock is in sector c3.
If you prefer to think that C is for Coincidence, think again. The accuracy of this rock positioning can only be due to the careful, accurate placement by those in the prop department of the secure Apollo photographic studio. This marking and placement is obviously intentional.
In the context of our other studies of this image, the presence of the ‘C’ on this rock (itself positioned in this particular place, in this particular photograph) makes complete sense. Big time whistle-blowing. Attention grabbing indeed.
No wonder the US TV magicians Penn & Teller were put forward in a vain attempt to dismiss this hypothesis on one of their Showtime TV shows in 2005.
Appearing only months after the lunar rock analysis was published revealing the true nature of most lunar rocks, this 'C' rock photo is the key to understanding how the Apollo photographic studio set-ups were divided into sectors. All of which appears to confirm our Stanley Kubrick chessboard hypothesis, fully explained in Stanley Kubrick and Apollo: Part Three. It is of course well known that Stanley was an ardent chess player in addition to being a brilliant photographer and filmmaker.
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