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Fox program had questioned whether the Apollo program really send mem to the moon. Did we land on the moon? Do we have proof? Why did the flag move if there is no atmosphere on the moon? Why is there no crater under the spacecraft when it landed and when it took off? Why haven't we gone back to the moon if we have so much technology?
Question Date: 2001-05-07
Answer 1:

Before discussing the questions you brought up, I would like to say that the students should be encouraged to not readily accept things told to them by "experts," including the government! It is important to think things through for themselves, and not hesitate to question and further investigate things that do not make sense to them. From my own experience, I would caution against immediately accepting things as true from the media, especially tv (and particularly Fox - didn't they also have a show on disecting an alien?), as issues are often times presented to sensationalize the matter. Unfortunately I did not watch this program, so I had to ask some friends who did watch it and find out what they talked about on the show. Hopefully I got most of the facts right.
Did we land on the moon?
I believe without hesitation that we did land on the moon. On a side note, think of this - if this was some elaborate show to fake the general public, do you believe the government and all the people involved could manage to keep a secret of that magnitude hidden so well and for so long?
Do we have proof?
Other than the footage, I would imagine that the clearest proof we have been to the moon are all the moon rocks that have been collected. These rocks have been studied for years now by many scientists around the world (many not associated with our government) who all agree and do not dispute that the rocks did not originate from earth (different compositions, etc.) If this was all a hoax, then someone would have needed to create all these "fake rocks" to fool so many scientists for many years (or, somehow convince all the scientists invovled to go along with the hoax!).
I have also heard that astronauts placed a mirror on the surface of the moon somewhere, and that scientists have used that mirror to reflect laser beams back to the earth to get accurate measurements on the distance from the earth to the moon. However, you may want to investigate that further to confirm it.
Why did the flag move if there is no atmosphere on the moon?
I'm not actually sure if there is movie footage of a flag "moving in the wind" or not. I've seen the photos where it appears it is moving, but that could easily be explained. First, I believe that a bar was added to the top of the flag to support it so it didn't just hang around the pole. Also, I imagine that as the pole was mounted and then released, that there could have been some vibration in the pole when it was released that would "move" the flag.
Why is there no crater under the spacecraft when it landed and when it took off?
As for landing, you probably wouldn't really expect a crater. If you're going to land, you wouldn't have your thrusters at full power that close to the ground. The thurst from the engine at touchdown was about 3000 pounds. This isn't a particularly large thrust (look up what fighter planes use for thrust for comparison). Here's an interesting calculation for you to try: Thrust is force in a given direction, and pressure, is force (or thrust) per unit area. Take the 3000 pounds of force and the area of the engine nozzle (it's about 5 feet in diameter). and calculate the force in pounds per square inch, or psi. Now compare that pressure with what you might fill your car tires with and see wha tyou get! One other thing to note is that there was only a thin layer of dust at the landing site, and beneath it was hard rock, which would also help prevent forming a crater.
Related issue: Why is there no dust on top of the spacecraft?
Basically, your intuition can deceive you if you apply "normal life experience" to what happens in space. The dust that was pushed aside from the thrusters never plumes back up to land on the shuttle - once it moves away from the craft, it keeps going. There is no atmosphere to cause it to change direction!
Another issue (photos): As I understand it, one of the main arguments of the Fox show was the space photos themselves.
Why aren't there stars in the photos? This may seem convincing at first, but think about camera exposures. Have you ever tried to take a photo of a bright object in a dim background? You can either get a good picture of the bright object (person) with a low exposure time, or a picture of the background (the stars) but then your bright object would be over exposed. I suspect exposure issues apply to a lot of the photo issues brought up.
Why haven't we gone back to the moon if we have so much technology?
While we have the technology to do it, I would guess that whether we do or not is more a financial and political decision. NASA must justify its annual funding to the government, and so it also depends on their priorities. For example, send a man to the moon, or a probe to Mars. Obviously, it's not that simple since there are many space based programs, but hopefully you get the idea.

Answer 2:

I have answered assuming you are talking about this program: ``Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon?'', a Fox TV network program.
Apparently this TV show really got a lot of people thinking hard about the truth of the US moon landings, and starting to ask questions about it. This, in and of itself, is a _very good thing_! Asking probing questions about our lives, and what the government tells us (what anyone tells you to believe!) is a _VERY GOOD THING_ to learn early in your lives, and one that will help you out later in life too.
Scientists are always asking questions, and wanting to see 'evidence' for the explanation of new discoveries. If scientists did _not_ do this, we would never learn about our environment! You,as soon to be full and voting citizens of the USA, and members of the world in general, must also ask to "see proof", make your own decisions based on your own knowledge, and use logic when addressing these questions. You must make decisions about who to trust and who is telling you the truth. I am a scientist and I have to do this everyday in my work!
Having said that it is GOOD to ask questions, you must also ask yourselves whether Fox presented you credible evidence that we did not go to the moon? We all know that we can't believe everything we see on television, right? Television is paid for by big business sponsors who advertise on the networks and who want lots of people watching their shows...the more sensational the show, the more people will tune in! Just keep that point in mind when watching television shows. Many TV shows give you sound information, but some do not. What sources of media (communication channels...TV, newspaper, books, magazines, movies, radio, etc.) do you think are most likely to tell the truth without sensationalizing it? Do you know of any?
Here's a question for you: Did the Fox program interview anyone who believed we went to the moon? Did they hear testimony from both parties on this subject? This is called being "unbiased" in journalism, and not "leading" the audience to believe one way or the other. Did they present both sides of the story to you, the audience? Where could you get both sides of the story about the moon landings?
Here's where I went to get both sides of the story: some internet websites. This is not to say that you should believe everything you read on the internet either, but you should consider the sources (who presents the data you read about!) and make your own decisions.
Philip Plait, a real astronomer, had created a great website (link below) addressing the very questions you have asked us (WOW!), so I will refer you to him, since he is the expert in the field of lunar flight. You should check out his website, and _decide_ for yourselves whether to believe what he says. I believe him because I believe what he says is supported by common sense and scientific laws.
Bad Astronomy Website:
In case you can't get to the website right away, here are one answer I have copied from Philip's website, and one of my own! However he has answered all your questions on his site.
Concerning the rippled flag:
From Philip (http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/tv/foxapollo.html#stars)
Bad: When the astronauts are assembling the American flag, the flag waves. Kaysing says this must have been from an errant breeze on the set. A flag wouldn't wave in a vacuum.
Good: Of course a flag can wave in a vacuum. In the shot of the astronaut and the flag, the astronaut is rotating the pole on which the flag is mounted, trying to get it to stay up. The flag is mounted on one side on the pole, and along the top by another pole that sticks out to the side. In a vacuum or not, when you whip around the vertical pole, the flag will ``wave'', since it is attached at the top. The top will move first, then the cloth will follow along in a wave that moves down. This isn't air that is moving the flag, it's the cloth itself.
New stuff added March 1, 2001: Many HBs show a picture of an astronaut standing to one side of the flag, which still has a ripple in it (for example, see this famous image). The astronaut is not touching the flag, so how can it wave?
he answer is, it isn't waving. It looks like that because of the way the flag was deployed. The flag hangs from a horizontal rod which telescopes out from the vertical one. In Apollo 11, they couldn't get the rod to sit horizontally, so the flag didn't get stretched fully. It has a ripple in it, like a curtain that is not fully closed. In later flights, the astronauts didn't fully deploy it on purpose because they liked the way it looked. In other words, the flag looks like it is waving because the astronauts wanted it to look
that way. Ironically, they did their job too well. It appears to have fooled a lot of people into thinkin

Answer 3:

Yes, we did go to the moon. There is a NASA rebuttal to the Fox special at
and independent rebuttals at
One of the best pieces of proof is that we brought rocks back and they are very different from earth rocks. They generally yield radiometric ages older than 4 billion years--older than earth rocks because the earth has been recycling itself by plate tectonics. The moon rocks are also devoid of water and other volatiles--very different from earth rocks. In short, if they had created a hoax, they wouldn't have concocted rocks that are as hard to explain as the moon rocks.

Answer 4:

In many ways this is more of a philosophical question than a science question. If you weren't an eye witness to an event are you willing to believe what you are told or read about? Even if you are an eye witness, are you willing to believe what you see? I believe that we landed on the moon just as much I believe George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and John F. Kennedy existed. I wasn't alive when they were (or during the first moon landing for that matter), so I have never met them. Yet there is plenty of evidence that they existed and the most simple explanation is that they did indeed exist. Theoretically, the founding fathers could have made up George Washington, but I doubt they did.
You have to ask yourself why would people make up going to the moon or any other "big lie?" What purpose would it serve? How would you make up such a "big lie" and keep it a secret (especially if a lot of people are involved)? We obviously have the technology to go to the moon today if we can send up space shuttles and space stations. I don't think anyone with any sense would deny that the space shuttles exist. Plenty of people have seen them launch and land.
We don't go to the moon today because there is no good reason to. We've already been there and there isn't much point in using our resources to send more people there until we have the technology to keep them there for more than a day or so.
As far as the specific "questions" raised in the show; I would have to watch it for myself. I'm not even sure I believe that this show exists. I think the show might be a hoax created in a studio to look like a show that denies the moon landing. How do we even know that the footage on the "show" is the same as the real moon landing footage. Who can say?
Rather than believing the "show" just because they tell you to, you should start exploring the evidence of the moon landing yourself and come to your own conclusions. Talk to eye witnesses, look up news paper articles, look at the original footage, see what people said at the time, learn some physics, find out if we had the technology to go to the moon back in the late 1960's. Be aggressive in your search for knowledge, don't just accept what someone tells you on a TV show (or over email).

Answer 5:

Did we land on the moon?
YES. We left instruments and debris up there. For example: we left seismometers that measured moonquakes. You could not reproduce this data on earth. We brought back rocks, and we could not reproduce those chemically on earth! I personally know some of the scientists who built the heat flow probes and seismometers, and analyzed the data, as well as worked with some of the lunar rocks. We just could not reproduce that data on earth.
Do we have proof ?
YES. See answer above. Also, you can look at the video of the astronauts playing golf and riding around on the moon - you could not produce that low-g environment on earth, and the computer graphics were just not that good back then to create the videos artificially.
Why did the flag move if there is no atmosphere on the moon?
I have never seen videos when the flag moved on its own, as if in the wind!
Why is there no crater under the spacecraft when it landed and when it took off?
There was no impact! It just blew dust around.
Why haven't we gone back to the moon if we have so much technology?
No funding!

Answer 6:

Did we land on the moon?
Yes we sure did.
Do we have proof ?
Ask Tom Hanks
Why did the flag move if there is no atmosphere on the moon?
There is gravity
Why is there no crater under the spacecraft when it landed and when it took off?
There is a tiny one there.
Why haven't we gone back to the moon if we have so much technology?
There is no national will to spend the billions required.
This is really an excellent question and I believe we can use this question to examine the way the mass media decides to present science.
Everyday very important discoveries get made. Does the press try and educate the public ? Generally NO. Instead the sensational ridiculous claims get the press. the idea that we really did not land on the moon , that it is a conspiracy etc, etc, is PLAIN RUBBISH !!! Why FOX news would present this is a mystery to me.
The next show may provide us with evidence that the EARTH IS flat and that Santa Claus really does visit 3 billion people every December 25th .... fill in something silly here!!!

Answer 7:

There are all sorts of conspiracy theories about alien abduction, government involvement with alien races, experiments on people by aliens, and the trip to the moon being a big hoax.
We did land on the moon, we have soil samples, gas samples, video (which, granted, is not all that great or clear).
There is something called solar wind created by heat, movement of bodies through space, which could have moved the flag, it also could have been moved accidently by one of the astronauts, there are a myriad of reasons the flag could have moved.
There is no crater underneath the lunar lander because the force with which we landed was not enough to form a crater. A crater is usually formed from an high velocity impact of a surface, fortunetely, the lunar lander did not have such a landing or else the astronauts could have died.

This last question is somewhat of a mystery to me. Several organizations have been interested in "terraforming" or creating a livable atmosphere over a long period of time with bodies just like the moon, except they talk about doing it on Mars, which seems silly when the moon, by comparison, is just a hop-skip-and jump away. Remember however, that there is (as much as I make fun of it) a whole lot of department of defense secret research going on and departments such as this in various governments might "have dibs" on the moon and therefore, the rest of us public scientists have to go elsewhere to do our research. Just a stab in the dark but this is a mystery to me too so that's my best guess.
Here's something to remember. The media are a powerful group of people (producers, writers, movie-makers, tv programmers). Many people take what they see on television for "truth", but all TV programs really are is someone's opinion being expressed through a story that you see. Even when you watch CNN, NBC, CBS, cable programming movies or documentaries, these are all areas of media where a few people are deciding what a great many people watch. Tell your students that part of the importance of going to school is to learn how to think for yourself, and to question what you learn and see. Many people let television think for them and let the TV programmers decide what's true and what's not, the really smart people go and find out for themselves. Remember "Wag the Dog"? (movie) The truth is out there, be smart enough not just to question what you see but to decide for yourself based on facts, not someone else's fiction.

Answer 8:

I watched part of the Fox program that questions whether the Apollo program really sent men to the moon. I don't remember all of the points it raises, but I will address the points that I remember.
The program raised questions about the photographs and film shot on the Moon's surface. Some of the questions asked were:
Why do the pictures show things that are in the shade?
Why do the crosshairs in some of the photos appear to be behind objects in
the photos?
Why do some of the films, which were supposedly shot on different days in
different locations, have exactly the same background?
I can think of some simple answers to these questions.
Why do the pictures show things that are in the shade, if the sun is the only source of light and it isn't directly shining in the shade? Think about how we see, and how cameras take images. Can I see something on earth that is in the shade, if there is no direct light shining on it? Of course I can, but why? If you can answer this, you can answer why objects in the shade on the moon still appear in photographs.
Why do the crosshairs in some of the photos appear to be behind objects in the photos? The implication seems to be that the crosshairs were actually drawn on the wall of the NASA studio in which the photos were staged. But why draw the crosshairs on the wall, when it would be so much easier to put them in the camera? It sounds absurd to me. I would bet that somebody airbrushed the photos before publishing them, so that they'd look prettier.
Why do some of the films, which were supposedly shot on different days in different locations, have exactly the same background? I don't know the answer to this for sure, but I can remember once I picked up a ZIP disk that someone left next to the computer, and I mistakenly thought it was mine and wrote my name on it. It turned out to be someone else's.
Why did the flag move if there is no atmosphere on the moon? Why was there no crater under the spacecraft when it landed and when it took off?
Why haven't we gone back to the moon if we have so much technology? I don't know the answer to all of these questions. But I do believe there are answers. One possible answer is that the moon landings were faked.
Another possible answer is that there really are good reasons for all of these strange observations, and that man really has landed on the moon.
Think about all of the possibilities, not just the ones that Fox wants you to believe, and decide what you think is probably true.
One often hears sensational theories, like the idea that man has never landed on the moon. Some people claim to have seen flying saucers, some claim to have been abducted by aliens, some claim that flight in airplanes is all a big hoax, some claim that JFK was murdered by the CIA, some claim that Bill Clinton murdered Vince Foster, and on and on. These theories could be true, but how likely are they to be true? The people who put forth these theories are often skeptical of the "official line", then turn
around and accept some pretty strange ideas with no skepticism at all.
Be skeptical, but do it consistently!

Answer 9:

Yes -- we did land on the moon, but as to proof, any thing anybody has could be claimed to be fake...
I have bounced laser beams off the mirrors set up on the moon by the apollo astronauts, so I know the were there. However, you might think that I too am part of a conspiracy.... The flag was suspended on a spring loaded wire -- an moved as it was being placed. If you look at the flag pictures from several differnet shots after it came to rest, you will note that it did not move later.
If the landing was faked, there were several very hard to fake parts -- for example the dust on the moon fell as the same rate as the rocks and or hammers etc... You can measure the rate of fall and see that the gravity was different... This could be done by slowmotion --but it would requre the astronauts to be in very fast modion while being shot-- and without a vacuum the dust would not settle so quickly.
The Lem only weighed about 1500 lbs on the moon -- that amount of thrust is far lower than a small jet plane-- and would hardly make a crater.
Finally, as to why we haven't gone back -- we went there originally partly as
a publicity stunt and partly to fend off fears that the russians would build a permanent military base on the moon. (Such a base would be easy to defend and could any point on the earth by tossing rocks....consider a 2 ton boulder falling on a city at 20 miles/second.) Politically, NASA seems to be much more in the business of keeping us out of space than getting us into it, they have fought any private access to space and
made it illegal to launch from the continental US or our possessions. Nonetheless, I suspect that the near future will change this a bit as we now have private launch capability from platforms in the pacific.
To go to space, you have to have a good paying reason or a military objective.
This has not been the case for 30years, but the times are changing with China in the going and with material processing costs soaring on the earth. Still -- without lowering the cost -- nothing much will be done.

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