Proof of Apollo 11 landing hard as ‘rock’
JOHNSON SPACE CENTER, Texas — When asked why they believe the Apollo 11 Moon landings were faked, conspiracy theorists point to the lack of stars in the photos taken by the astronauts, incongruous shadows and other bits of data from that mission. Some evidence that counters their claims isn’t so fragile, in fact – it’s written in stone.
SpaceFlight Insider reached out to officials at NASA’s Johnson Space Center located near Houston, Texas to find out more about the samples that were transported back to Earth by the Apollo 11 Columbia Command Module in the summer of 1969.
NASA public affairs officers directed us to Apollo sample lab manager Andrea Mosie. We asked her a series of questions pertaining to the roughly 49 lbs (22 kilograms) of Moon rocks transported back to Earth. Perhaps the most important of these was what set the lunar samples apart from terrestrial sources.
SpaceFlight Insider: What are the key differences between rocks that comprised the Apollo 11 samples and similar rocks here on Earth?
Mosie: “The age of the lunar samples themselves help set them apart, they are all essentially older than any terrestrial samples. Then there is the prevalence of samples formed through impacts (breccias). Also rocks on Earth have a certain amount of water in them – there is much less water in the samples brought back from the Moon.”
SpaceFlight Insider: How does the lunar environment explain these differences?
Mosie: “The Moon is smaller and less dynamic than the Earth, and the lack of plate tectonics and wind…water erosion to recycle samples leads to older samples; (2) no atmosphere means no shielding from impacts like on Earth; (3) Because of differences in the amount of Oxygen and water on the Moon versus the Earth, minerals crystallize in a different order there, leading the same rock type on both planets to have different bulk compositions.”
SpaceFlight Insider: Please provide us with a brief overview of how the lunar samples are housed.
Mosie: “Sure, The lunar sample building at Johnson Space Center is the chief repository for ALL the Apollo samples. It was constructed to provide permanent storage of the lunar sample collection in a physically secure and non-contaminating environment. The facility consists of storage vaults for the samples, laboratories for sample preparation and study, a vault for sample data and records, and machinery to supply nitrogen to the cabinets in which the samples are stored and processed.”
SpaceFlight Insider: Can you share with us what NASA has planned for the upcoming Apollo 11 50th anniversary in terms of these samples?
Mosie: “We have to balance how the Apollo collection is used for both science and outreach [about 5 percent by mass is used in displays). Apollo 11 was the mission that brought back the least amount of lunar regolith, so we don’t make many displays from that mission. Practically all of our existing Apollo displays will be used somewhere during the anniversary celebrations.”
Shortly after Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins returned from the Moon in July of 1969, theories have come forth that the landing and the five that followed it were faked. More than half a century after the landing an estimated six percent of the U.S. population believe that the lunar landings, which took place from 1969-1972, were staged. EarthSky.org noted that, with the rise of blogs and the decline of the standards and practices that guide professional journalism that more people are starting to believe that the Apollo Program did not send astronauts to the Moon.
The most skeptical adults tend to be younger in age. As the the Apollo program recedes further into history, and with the lack of lunar landings since that time, many have concluded that going to the Moon is all but impossible with today’s technology, much less the technology of the 1960s. The existence of the lunar materials brought back by the Apollo astronauts, refutes the naysayers. There is just no way to scientifically fake a rock and not have it discovered.
Currently NASA is working to return to the Moon via the new Artemis project – a collaboration between the public and private sectors to place the first woman and the next man onto the lunar surface by 2024.
Designed for a young audience, SpaceFlight Insider found this video that includes Mosie and she provides additional information about the samples that were brought back by the Apollo crews:
Video courtesy of NASAeClips
Joe Latrell is a life-long avid space enthusiast having created his own rocket company in Roswell, NM in addition to other consumer space endeavors. He continues to design, build and launch his own rockets and has a passion to see the next generation excited about the opportunities of space exploration. Joe lends his experiences from the corporate and small business arenas to organizations such as Teachers In Space, Inc. He is also actively engaged in his church investing his many skills to assist this and other non-profit endeavors.