NASA debunks moon landing hoax conspiracy
(CNN) -- Did NASA land men on the moon? "Yes, we did," the space agency proclaimed Monday on the Internet, rebutting newly boosted claims from conspiracy theorists that the Apollo missions were faked.
"A recent TV program resurfaced old questions about whether NASA really sent astronauts to the moon between 1969 and 1972. We did," the agency said on its home page.
Airing Thursday on the Fox Network, the sensational show advanced the idea that the United States did not have the ability to go the moon but staged the landings to one-up the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
Reputable scientists dismiss the claim outright. "Sounds ridiculous? Of course it does! It is. So let me get this straight right form the start: This program is an hour-long piece of junk," explained astronomer Phil Plait on his Web site, Badastronomy.com.
The theorists point to supposed oddities in NASA moon shots to boost their claim. Among the most prominent: The U.S. flag should not be waving. Camera crosshairs should not be behind lunar features in the distance. Stars should be in the background.
Plait and other scientists dismiss such notions. Flags can ripple in a vacuum and the U.S. one is doing so because an astronaut is moving the pole to which it is attached.
Camera crosshairs appear to be behind white objects in some images because the images bled slightly during development, like overexposed film. And why are the stars absent? They are too faint for the camera to pick up, according to Plait.
"From the very first moment to the last, the program is loaded with bad thinking, ridiculous suppositions and utterly wrong science," he said.
NASA adds another line of defense. The program never raised the issue of more than 800 pounds (363 kg) of lunar rocks that astronauts brought back to Earth.
"Geologists worldwide have been examining these samples for 30 years, and the conclusion is inescapable. The rocks could not have been collected or manufactured on Earth," the NASA site said.
The space agency has encountered other such theories since the landings took place. Why bother to respond to what most consider such harebrained ideas?
"I think it wasn't in respect to the show. It was an answer to the number of e-mails that we were getting as a result of the show," NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs said. Many of them came from elementary school teachers, who said their students had asked them about the show's claims.
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