buzz's magic antenna
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Fig. 1 - Apollo LMP Buzz Aldrin carries EASEP equipment to its deployment location. (NASA: AS11-40-5942)
Fig. 2 - Aldrin, a few seconds after Fig. 1 was taken. (NASA: AS11-40-5943)

In Fig. 1, Buzz Aldrin is carrying the EASEP experiments toward the deployment site. There is no antenna on top of his PLSS. But in Fig. 2, supposedly taken only a few seconds later, his antenna is clearly visible. This discrepancy can't have occurred if the photos were taken only a few seconds apart.

Fig. 3 - The yellow arrow indicates the antenna in Fig. 1, which has been enlarged and intensified. The antenna is seen edge-on in this view and is thus nearly invisible to the camera. (NASA: AS11-40-5942, enhanced)
Unlike the antennas on portable radios and automobiles, the VHF antennas on the astronauts' backpacks were not metal tubes, but flat metal strips painted white on one side and black on the other. And so when they are seen edge-on (i.e., from the astronaut's front or back), they tend to disappear against the dark background. But when presented broadside (i.e., from the astronaut's side) to the camera they appear bright and prominent. In Fig. 2 Aldrin has turned slightly to the left and presented the broad face of the antenna.

The antennas are meant to be folded down when entering or leaving the LM. In a few of the later missions you can see astronauts with the antenna folded down because they have just emerged from the LM or are just about ready to enter it. The other astronaut must fold down the antenna.

This illustrates two important points about Apollo photographs, especially those available on the Internet. First is resolution. The images commonly available are scanned at a low resolution so that the resulting file will transfer faster over the network. The price for this speed is the loss of detail. Conspiracists that complain about missing detail should work from prints, or at least from high-resolution scans.

It also illustrates the lossy compression in JPEG picture encoding. Even high-resolution JPEGs can lose some detail when they are compressed to save file space. Even if the thin edge of the antenna had been originally visible in the digital image above, it's likely that JPEG encoding would have gobbled up that detail.

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