Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I Believe We Went To The Moon!

But I have some issues...

I grew up in the Florida in the 1960's so naturally I was captivated by the Space program as a boy.  I had then, and I still have, my astronaut lunchbox, a bit rusty now, but still with NASA graphics visible on it.  I built model kits of the space craft from the Mercury through Apollo missions. I went with my dad and a friend to see the Kennedy Space Center and enter the visitor's glassed room to gaze inside the mammoth VAB in 1968.  I'll never forgot how huge that building was standing at the base and looking up.  One could almost fall backwards looking up so high.

Those astronauts were real, honest to God, American heroes.  Brave and true.  It made one feel good to be an American.  We were the can-do people and we were getting it done.  I'll never forget that night when Neil Armstrong announced to the world, "The Eagle has landed..."  It was an amazing thing to see in those early, ghosty black and white images.

It seemed an assured fact that American astronauts traveled to the moon, landing on it, did experiments and took samples and returned safely.  In recent years a cottage industry has emerged to produce books and videos doubting that anybody went there.  That the whole thing was a huge hoax they say.  There are issues with the radiation, discrepancies with the photographs and a host of other matters they point to as examples of the hoax.  I think this all arrises from people being so distrustful of the government.  And we know where that came from.  The JFK assassination, Vietnam and Watergate helped paint the view that the government could not to be trusted on some matters.

One of the things I find most bothersome about these naysayers who challenge the moon landings is that none of them are scientists or engineers.  Certainly nobody that worked for NASA has come forward to make these claims.  They talk a good game, seem to be very knowledgable about diverse topics of the science, but seem to rarely get around to interviewing engineers that could answer their questions, and provide logical explanations for the anomalies which are present.   Likewise, those that challenge the authencity of the photographic evidence are not photographers.  People such as Jay Weidner have made the internet interview circuit with his theory that the NASA moon films were faked by renowned director Stanley Kubrick.  Did Weidner ever interview Kubrick about this?  No.

I think men went to the moon and returned safely home but these critics do raise some interesting issues and some of these issues I find to be quite troubling.  What follows is just a few.

The Hasselblad Picture
What inspired me to take a look at the Hasselblad space images, which run from the early days of the space program to the International Space Station, is because moon hoaxer (can’t recall the name but I think it was Jay Weidner) stated that Hasselblad didn't feature any of the moon photos on their site.  I went to the Hasselblad USA web site and found out that this guy was totally wrong.  Of course the moon photos are there!  Lots of them.  All this does is add to the lack of credibility some of these critics have.

Then I found it.   The one that doesn't quite fit.  See the picture above. Remember, this is supposed to be pictures shot in space or on the moon.  This set from Hasselblad is not supposed to have pictures of museum displays or other set-ups.  It features an astronaut poking half of his torso out of the Apollo command module with the lunar landing module (LEM) attached while apparently in lunar orbit.

I've never read or heard of a space walk or any reason to open the hatch on a moon flight.  I'm not an engineer but even I know it's not wise to open the hatch, vent the cabin pressure and oxygen, on a lunar orbit millions of miles away from home.

Who is taking the picture?  The camera angle appears to be somewhere on the top of the LEM.  Is that hatch opened too?  If the camera is mounted on the outside then how is the film roll going to be retrieved?  Or for that matter how is the framing, focus and aperture going to be set?  The reflections on the astronaut's visor shows none of the things one would see in a studio shot if this is a mock-up publicity shot.  The single light of the sun is seen, no light stands or highlights from studio strobes.  The background is black and the reflections of the space craft are seen.

Download the picture HERE.  Put it in your favorite image processor and turn the brightness way up.  You'll see the top right edges of the moon are blocky as if it was painted over in large sections to obscure the edges.  I would conclude the moon in this image is evidently a backdrop.

So is it a space museum mock-up?  Must be because later I found a similar picture on a web site with the Earth as a backdrop.  This one supposedly signed by the astronaut Dave Scott.  Which one is real?  Probably both are fakes.  Source

Shadow of the Moon Video Clips
In The Shadow of the Moon is a beautifully produced, award winning (Sundance 2007) documentary on the Apollo missions to the moon.  The film quality is excellent, the music score is perfect and there are scads of interviews with Apollo astronauts.  The quality of the footage used overall is quite good and features a section of extra film clips rarely seen.

However, even with something this well done, there are anomalies with film clips, especially two that have long fascinated me which are included in the documentary.  They begin around 44 minutes into the program.

First is the ejection of the first stage Saturn booster and the booster separation ring and secondly, the lift off of the final stage booster on its way to the moon (see above).  Both film clips are spectacular featuring smooth, vibration free motion with razor-sharp focus.  No motion blur either.  They provide a clear view from the perspective of the boosters in space and how they look when they fall back into the Earth's atmosphere.  It is unknown to me how these were made and I've never seen anything written about how this spectacular footage was created.

It's quite apparent that this is not a live video transmission–this is 35mm film.  And how do we know that?  Because the booster liftoff clip features the end the film reel which show the number "35" scratched on one of the final frames (just hit pause to see the final frames–a jog wheel or a frame-by-frame button will let you see all the frames at the end.)  Also of note is the high image resolution and the lack of video artifacts.  Just watch some of the video footage NASA broadcast from a camera mounted on the Space Shuttle’s main booster tank and you'll see what I mean–the dropping of the signal, static bursts, color fading and so on.

It appears that NASA had specialized movie cameras installed in the second stage booster, one on the top and the other on the bottom.  Both are sealed in protective enclosures as evidenced by the horn-shaped spikes seen in all four sides of the frame.  This enclosure will have to be able to survive the harsh environment of space, radiation effects on film, the lift off blast of the final stage, reentry thru the earth's atmosphere and protection from shock damage on landing.

These film clips also feature their own set of anomalies.  For example, in the first clip after the first stage booster separates and tumbles off, followed by the booster separation ring releasing, the booster no longer tumbles and makes no movement at all.  It stays rock still over numerous frames.  The ring starts to burn as it tumbles off but the booster never does.  There is enough oxygen present for it to burn?  It could be friction as it's separated at a higher altitude.  Also, the earth and cloud cover never move as well.

The second clip is noted for how smooth and vibration free everything is.  The camera here is located on top the second stage booster with a view looking up as the final stage booster as it ignites.  It's an "in your face" shot.  Imagine that going off right in your face and no shock wave is present.  No motion blur either.  Perhaps another effect of low gravity?  At any rate, in this clip we see the drift of the spent rocket booster with the earth coming into view which starts the camera zooming through the opening, evidently released and on its way returning to earth, the final frames of the strip flashing by to an end.

At any rate, I would really like to know how this was done if it's legitimate space NASA space footage.  I think it's amazing they pulled this off but questions linger on how the film could survive the harsh environment of space (radiation, cold, heat, shock), reentry, landing and then retrieval.  I assume they had a radio beacon or some other type of tracking device on the camera's enclosure so it could be found  (unless NASA had an early and secret version of GPS at the time).  I've had the feeling that the public space program featured a lot of things that were not so public.  I don't think all the technology NASA developed was admitted to or released.

And it doesn't here with those clips.  Several more irregularities are seen in the film.  One segment that starts an hour and 4 minutes in, is a view of the Command Module in orbit around moon.  It's very small but a freeze frame will show it's a solid object with a clearly defined highlight and shadow.  At first I thought it was a reflection off the window but I don't think so because of the shadowing and object movement.  But the kicker here is that the point of view is from an orbit much higher than that of the Command Module.  Who is filming up there?  Did they have another spacecraft in orbit to supply additional footage?  Very strange and even stranger that few question any of this, even those in the moon hoaxer camp.

A Short Word About Photography
One of the biggest complaints from the critics, and what is most often sited as evidence for hoaxing lies in aberrations found in the photographs.  I'll admit there is some screwy stuff going on in some of them.  There are wrong angled shadows, foreshortening issues, lighting and focusing details and so forth.  I think the problem lies in taking photographs in such a hostile and forbidding place.

The science of optics was never tested on another world free of oxygen, weather,  and atmosphere prior to the moon landings.  Astronauts have testified to having problems with distance and depth perception while on the moon.  I take it the properties of light on the moon, in this harsh environment, are different and hence, alluding to this problem.

And besides, if  you are going to pull off a scam like this, aren't the perpetrators going to at least get the shadows and other details right?  Dumb mistakes are things a scammer wants to avoid.  After all, the people working on this are not a bunch of inbred hillbillies.

And a word on focusing.  One of the main things I learned in photography once I got going professionally was the use of a depth of field scale (DOF) and the use of what is referred to has the "hyper-focal distance."  Since the critics think that focusing is too clear in many of the photos, here is simple explanation.  The hyper-focal distance is set for maximum sharpness from foreground to background.  Basically, it's setting an aperture combined with the focus set to a certain distance in space. That is determined by the DOF scale on the lens (which by the way, is rarely seen on a lens anymore).  This creates a zone of focus.  Imagine a box and everything in that box will be sharp and in focus from foreground to background.

And that is how the how the astronauts took sharp photographs on the moon.

As I said I still believe we went to the moon.  If not, it's a huge waste of brain power, people's lives, hardware and national treasure just to one-up the Russians.  In regards to the anomalies in the films and photographs I am not opposed to the idea that some negatives was lost or damaged facilitating professional recreations.  That might help explain some of the oddities seen in the moon imagery.

Moon Hoax Sites and Videos

Jarrah White

Jarrah White Youtube Channel

Jay Weidner Interviewed by James Fetzer

On Youtube: Veritas Interview 06-03-11

Hasselblad USA’s web site

Dave Scott Fake