Was Neil Armstrong’s “one small step for man” made not on the surface of the Moon, but on a secret, earth-bound set?
These monumental moments in history, of landing on the Moon in the late 1960s and early 1970s, are not a part of the memories of the vast majority of people living today. Unsurprisingly, some of them are skeptical that it ever happened. Thankfully, in science, we don't need to be there ourselves to have proof. Here are four different pieces of evidence we can point to that demonstrate the Moon landings actually occurred.
1.) Lunar footprints. Here on Earth, footprints generally don't last very long. Wherever you leave your tracks, you fully expect that whether it takes minutes, days, or weeks, eventually the natural phenomena in the world will cover them up. Winds blowing along the sand dunes, rains in the forest, or plant and animal activity will eventually eliminate the evidence of your passing.
So if we walked on the Moon, we would expect those footprints to still be there.
2.) Over 8,000 photos documenting our trips. Perhaps we all need a reminder of what the sacrifices were that went into our journey to the Moon. We accomplished the unthinkable by banding together to achieve a common goal, and could do it all once again. NASA has released all the photos of the twelve Apollo missions that made it to space on a publicly available Flickr photostream, sorted into a series of incredible albums by mission.
Some of the greatest, most eye-opening photos, stories and quotes came back from those trips, including some from Apollo 8's Bill Anders, who took the famous "Earthrise" photos illustrated below. Anders described the journey to the Moon as follows:
You could see the flames and the outer skin of the spacecraft glowing; and burning, baseball-size chunks flying off behind us. It was an eerie feeling, like being a gnat inside a blowtorch flame.
3.) Scientific equipment we've installed on the Moon. Did you know that we brought up a large amount of scientific equipment and installed it on the lunar surface during the Apollo missions?
- Lunar seismometers were installed by Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, and 16, with the most advanced ones transmitting data to Earth until 1977.
- Apollo 11 installed the lunar laser ranging retroreflector array, which is still operational today, allowing us to reflect lasers off of it and measure the Earth-Moon distance to ~centimeter precision. (We also use Apollo 14, 15, and the Soviet Lunokhud 2 rover for this.)
- The SWC experiment, to measure the solar wind composition from the Moon's surface.
- The SWS experiment to measure the solar wind's spectra from the Moon.
- The LSM experiment to measure the lunar magnetic field.
- The LDD to measure how lunar dust would settle on and pollute solar panels.
4.) We brought back samples, and learned a ton about lunar geology from them. The final two astronauts to ever walk on the Moon, Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt, ran into quite a surprise when they did. Schmitt, the lone civilian-astronaut (and only scientist) to travel to the Moon, was often described as the most business-like of all the astronauts. Which is why it must have been such a shock to hear him exclaim the following:
Oh, hey! Wait a minute… THERE IS ORANGE SOIL! It’s all over! I stirred it up with my feet!
The dull, grey lunar soil you’re used to seeing — that we’re all used to seeing — in one particular spot was only a very thin veneer, covering a rich, orange landscape beneath.
NASA collected and shared the samples from moon to best scientist worldwide for research.
Most remarkably, the lunar samples we've found have indicated that Earth and the Moon have a common origin, consistent with a giant impact that occurred only a few tens of millions of years into the birth of our Solar System.
There are many different lines of evidence that point to humanity's presence on the Moon. We landed there and can see the evidence, directly, when we look with the appropriate resolution. We have extraordinary amounts of evidence, ranging from eyewitness testimony to the data record tracking the missions to photographs documenting the trips, all supporting the fact that we landed and walked on the lunar surface. We have a slew of scientific instruments that were installed, took data, and a few of which can still be seen and used today. And finally, we've brought back lunar samples and learned about the Moon's history, composition, and likely origin from it.
There are many ways to prove it, but the conclusion is inescapable: we really did land on the Moon, and we can validate it yet again by performing the right scientific test — through imaging or laser ranging — any time we want.
If someday, someone again goes on the moon, there will definitely be the same samples of that was brought to earth before and hence the moon landing will again be declared as true.
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