Just the other day, I was paging through a 'fun fact' book and came across an article questioning whether Armstrong really landed on the moon. The 'evidence' they gave to support their belief was that in all the photographs there are no stars, the flag is flapping in the wind and there are footprints in the ground. Because I learned ever since third grade that Armstrong was indeed the first man to step foot on the moon, these claims sounded completely outlandish. But what is even more outlandish is that a good percentage of Americans actually buy into it. A survey conducted by Gallup revealed that approximately six percent of Americans believe that Armstrong never landed on the moon. Another five percent express doubt. After quite a bit of research, however, I have found the flaws and loopholes in these conspiracies. My goal is for all people to see the errors in such claims, so that Armstrong and all of America are not slighted from the bountiful pride and recognition they deserve.
The first part of this conspiracy to be proven wrong is the reasoning behind why the flag was seen waving in the wind—a feat which is claimed to be impossible in the vacuum like atmosphere of the moon. To prove this theory wrong, a research team placed a replica flag into a chamber that housed the same atmospheric conditions as the moon. After placing the flag inside the chamber and slightly manipulating it, the team discovered that it waved vigorously and appeared to be 'flying in the breeze.' This test, which was conducted at the Marshall Space Flight Center, demonstrated that it is possible for a flag to appear like it is waving in the wind, even in a vacuum like atmosphere.
The lack of stars in the photographs has also been used as proof against Armstrong, although this claim in not supported by any scientific reasoning. Because of the way in which the moon reflects sunlight, the glare makes in near to impossible to see the stars. Furthermore, the cameras that the astronauts used were operating on a setting which greatly limited the amount of background light. This means that whenever pictures were being taken in fast increments, the minimal light being reflected from the stars did not have enough time to appear on the film.
If you have ever read an article about the Armstrong myth, you are well aware that the conspiracies unfortunately do not stop here. Some people profess that because the moon is so dry, footprints should not have appeared in the pictures. Yet just like before, this statement is also scientifically wrong. Regolith, which is more commonly known as 'moon dust,' has a powdery consistency. Therefore footprints should be imprinted on the moon's surface after someone has walked upon it.
The final question conspirators often ask is where the flag is today and why no telescopes can locate it. Simply stated, the answer is the limit of technology. Current telescopes used on space missions do not possess the power to zoom in on small objects. They can locate something the size of an average house and that is all.
With all that proof, it is extremely difficult to still believe the hoax, but then again I would be foolish to not assume that some people still will. My hope is that this article is "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" in giving Armstrong and the American space department the respect and pride they deserve after fulfilling such an out-of-this-world accomplishment.
Published in The Enlightened Life: A community blog