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LRO Photographs

A HB Response To The LRO Photos

Upon my many journeys through Google, I found the blog FakeApollo.com. The blog is supposedly written to allow people to come to their own conclusions of the hoax / non hoax argument, though it must be said it veers toward the “hoax” side of the argument.

On this blog, I did find the first non-forum response to the LRO photographs of the Apollo landing sites. It made for very interesting reading. Here, with the author’s permission, I’ll go through some of the points made. You can view the original post here.

Any text in red is from the author, anything else is mine.

For the 40th anniversary of the Apollo Moon missions, NASA has sent up a probe called the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO for short. The “high quality” photos that the LRO sent back to Earth detail the landing sites of Apollo missions 11, 14, 15, 16 and 17. … Anti-conspiracy theorists are currently having a heyday. The anti-hoaxers are going as far as to declare the Moon hoax “over,” and, “a closed matter.”

With all due respect, the only thing “high quality” ever claimed about these photographs is that they show the landing sites at all. Before the LRO, no telescope had the power to view the moon at such a close range. These photographs are “high quality” (in that you can see the landing site) but are not supposed to be “high quality” as in “you can see the footprints”.

According to the LRO website, more detailed photographs will follow these initial ones.

It should also be noted that the landing site for Apollo 12 has now been photographed, though this post was written prior to those photographs being released.

Really, though, if conspiracy theorists weren’t convinced by photos of men on the moon, then why would a series of blurry, indistinguishable photos of the landing sites convince them? In an age when Photoshop makes image editing a snap, the usefulness of such photos remains dubious. Anti-hoaxers have been much too quick to jump on the “Moon hoax solved!” bandwagon. These anti-hoaxers have historically been the ones to point out the gullibility and stubbornness of hoaxers, claiming that a hoaxer can ‘believe almost anything.’ In the LRO matter, though, anti-hoaxers have shown themselves to be the gullible ones. Anyone with a bit of common sense should realize that NASA could have Photoshopped these landing site photos much more easily than taking them from an orbiting probe.


It depends where you look for so-called “anti hoaxers”. In the forums and blogs I circulate, no “anti hoaxer” has crowed happily at these photographs. We are all well aware that no photograph will ever convince a firm hoax believer.

Of course NASA could have PhotoShopped these pictures. I do not for a second accept that anyone who “believes” these photographs is unaware of PhotoShop. I use it myself. It can be great fun to smear the opposition with one of their own claims, but in this instance it is not fair. The difference is that “anti hoaxers” are willing to accept these images, and hoax believers are not.

(I must interject once more on a personal basis. I love the LRO photographs, but as nothing more than a fond reunion – I have never believed that they would silence Apollo critics.)

I would like to add; if NASA were to just PhotoShop a set of pictures, why would they create such small and indistinguishable pictures? As the author correctly points out, these photographs will prove nothing to any determined non believer. Surely, if NASA were going to go to the bother of doing it after 40 years, they could at least whip up a convincing lunar module?

In the above photo, the supposed landing site has been expanded. It appears to be nothing more than a few pixels of white and dark light lumped together. This sort of editing can be done in Microsoft Paint – a program that gets shipped with every version of Windows. If NASA had really wanted to dispel the hoaxers with photos, then the LRO should have been equipped with more powerful telescopic lenses.

Okay… well, all images on computers can be broken down into pixelated images. That is how computer images are formed, using pixels. Here’s a photograph of my cat, Donncha (I know, cat people, any excuse):

Focus on his tongue.

Focus on his tongue.

Now, I know Donncha is real, and that this photograph is real. I’m hoping you can trust that, too. So, if I take that photograph of Donncha and enlarge it, what do I get?

I have used Paint.NET and enlarged to 3,200%.

As you can see, Donncha’s tongue – so clearly defined in the original picture – is now nothing but coloured pixels.


My point is that no image would stand up to this kind of enlargement scrutiny. I may be wrong, but I believe the author enlarged this picture in PhotoShop – or whatever programme – to try and see the lunar modules clearly. No picture can do that. Everything becomes “just a few pixels of dark and white lumped together” when maximised in this way.

As for saying the LRO “should have been equipped with more powerful telescopic lenses” – that isn’t that easy. This also encourages the idea that the LRO has one mission: to photograph the Apollo landing sites. In fact, the main reason for the LRO is to identify future possible landing sites and survey lunar resources. The LRO was first due for launch in 2008, not 2009 – the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11. I have never read that the LRO was some kind of anniversary trip (please correct if wrong – I realise it is impossible for one to read everything), as the article suggests – it was more a future plan of space travel. Photographing the Apollo sites is just part of it; what is more, an inevitable part, as the LRO is photographing much of the moon’s surface at this distance.

The article then goes on to suggest that the images are not clear enough:

Have you seen Google Earth or Google Maps lately? A satellite orbiting the Earth can take clear pictures of my apartment and the automobiles parked on the streets nearby. Why, then, can a probe orbiting the Moon not take clear pictures of the Apollo landing sites? Theoretically, a Lunar probe would orbit much closer to the Moon’s surface than satellites near Earth do, because the Moon exerts 1/6 of the gravitational pull of the Earth. Therefore, the telescopic lens required for close-up pictures wouldn’t even have to be as strong as the ones on Earth-orbiting satellites. A probe orbiting the Moon should be able to take close-up, high quality photos of the landing sites. We should be able to see the remains of the LM quite clearly.

On this, I have to beg to differ.

The comparison with Google Earth / Maps is not a valid one. While Google do have satellites orbiting, these are not responsible for the kind of pinpoint accuracy – such as identifying cars – one can currently see. The high resolution, detailed images are actually taken using aerial photography – basically, planes, not satellites.

I actually had trouble finding a verification for this, as it seems to be such common knowledge – I found answers on Yahoo Answers etcetera. For the real close up things such as Street Maps, Google invites people to take their own photographs and submit them, as well as having their own street level teams.

Google do not take pictures from space which show an automobile, these are taken using aerial photography from airplanes. The satellites Google use – which are linked with NASA, by the way – are used for 3D mapping of mountain ranges, as well as larger pictures.

It should also be noted that these are only the first photographs from the LRO – higher resolution, more detailed images are expected. The LRO is apparently equipped to take better photographs, and it will, but the fact remains: no conspiracy theorist will ever believe the missions happened, unless they go on an all-expenses-paid trip to the moon.

So enjoy the LRO photos for what they are; enjoyable for those that believe (know), irrelevant for those that don’t. That was always how it was going to be.

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3 comments for “A HB Response To The LRO Photos”

  1. I know it’s off-topic, but your cat is really cute. My family used to have a tuxedo cat too. His name was Simon.

    Posted by LaurelHS | September 17, 2009, 12:58 am
  2. Aw, tuxedo cats are always wonderful. We also have Donncha’s twin sister, Darcy, though he’s a better example of the “tuxedo” :)

    Posted by Antonia | September 18, 2009, 1:06 pm
  3. Personally I have a problem with this bit :

    “For the 40th anniversary of the Apollo Moon missions, NASA has sent up a probe called the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter,”

    The LRO was sent to map the moon in high detail for further study.
    The Apollo landing images were just a bonus of some small historical interest.

    Posted by Tim | September 19, 2009, 8:32 pm