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The lunar surface samples returned by the Apollo missions are considered by many to be the most compelling evidence that the missions were authentic.

The moon rocks could have easily been fabricated in the laboratory.

Many conspiracists state this, but none have been able to propose a process by which it could be done so as to produce the unique properties geologists say are found in moon rocks.

Ordinary earth rocks were baked in a radiation oven to produce the moon rocks.

This would make sense if the conspiracists would elaborate on what a "radiation oven" is supposed to be, and what effect it is postulated to have on minerals. This argument is tantamount to pretending there exists a magical secret machine to do what the conspiracist says needs to be done in order for his theory to be true; not a compelling argument.

NASA had ovens capable of 5,000 F, quite capable of producing any mineral they chose. [Bill Kaysing]

Unfortunately Mr. Kaysing has no expertise whatsoever in geology or mineralogy. Professional mineralogists disagree.

Conspiracists have yet to suggest a viable and effective means of fabricating lunar rocks, despite their assertions that it would be easy to do.
According to physicist J. R. Keller, melting a composite mineral and allowing it to solidify sets up convection patterns in the molten mix and the resulting pattern is preserved in the solid where it can be examined. Convection is a function of gravity, and lunar rocks exhibit convection patterns that were obviously produced in the much less lunar gravity.

You just put earth rocks in a microwave oven, and that will produce the effects of radiation that geologists say are particular to lunar rocks.

Conspiracists apparently know less about microwave ovens than they do about lunar surface geology. Microwaves are not ionizing radiation. If you microwave a rock, there is no discernible change in its chemical, radiological, or crystalline makeup. You simply have a slightly warm rock.

The radiological effects observed in lunar rocks are produced by the long-term bombardment of solar particles, the solar wind, and cosmic radiation. Microwave ovens produce nothing like this.

Geologists say lunar rocks aren't any different from the basalts found in earth's oceans. Clearly NASA just recovered seabed basalts and passed them off as lunar rocks.

It's not true that geologists don't see a major difference between earth seabed basalts and lunar rocks. Lunar rocks are anhydrous -- they contain no water and there is no evidence of the presence of water in their formation. This is not true of seabed basalts. Seabed basalts are simply the earth mineral that most closely resembles lunar rock.

Wernher von Braun made a trip to Antarctica to recover lunar rocks that had been blasted off the lunar surface by impacts and had fallen to earth as meteorites. [Bill Kaysing]

Fig. 1 -Wernher von Braun in Antarctica. (NASA)
Although von Braun indeed went to Antarctica in 1967, this assertion is still implausible. Why would von Braun be the person to do this? An engineer with a brilliance for the design of propulsion and guidance systems would not necessarily have the expertise to recognize and recover meteoric lunar surface samples. That would require a geologist, and NASA certainly had access to some very competent geologists. Wernher von Braun was a prominent person associated with NASA. It's understandable that, lacking any real knowledge of the space program, conspiracists will fabricate scenarios around the only names they know.

Meteorites from the lunar surface do exist, and Antarctica is a good place to find them. But they are very hard to find. Apollo returned 850 lbs. (380 kg) of material. But as of the late 1990s, geologists had found only 19 such specimens. And this is the best effort of the entire international geology community. It's difficult to believe that NASA could recover so much more material in the decade during which the hoax was allegedly executed. Consider also that Antarctica was first identified as a haven for meteorites in 1969, by Japanese scientists. That makes it hard to argue that von Braun went there in 1967 to find specimens to pass off as surface samples. It also makes it hard for NASA to have collected enough samples for Apollo 11 and 12 and prepare them in such a short period of time.

Finally, meteorites are very different in appearance from the Apollo lunar samples. Samples brought back from the moon have very small pits on the surface. These so-called "zap pits" are caused by micrometeoroid impacts and are generally only visible under a microscope. But they are completely absent from recovered lunar meteorites because the outer layers have been burned away by passage through the earth's atmosphere.

There are other surface features particular to moon rocks. The outer layer is rich in helium-3, an isotope difficult and expensive to acquire on earth. It also shows interaction with the solar wind, which contains exotic elements not found on earth. If the outer layer of the meteorite is chipped off to remove the evidence of passage through earth's atmosphere, all the rich evidence of presence on the lunar surface is lost too.

The "zap pits" could be produced by firing ball bearings or other projectiles at meteorite samples.

No. There is a big difference between the pits formed by the extremely high-speed impact of very small projectiles, and the impact produced by relatively low-speed, massive projectiles. Meteors strike at a much faster speed than even bullets.

Further, such impacts would leave traces of the projectiles in the rock. Substances such as stainless steel or other refined or purified materials don't exist in nature and would be evidence of fraud.

But the lunar samples are, in fact, contaminated.

They're not contaminated with anything that could be used to produce "zap pits" or anything like that. You can't poke holes in a mineral by shooting Teflon at it. They are, instead, contaminated by the materials used by astronauts to collect, store, and transport the samples. Although the contamination is a concern for geologists, the contamination is entirely consistent with NASA's claims for how they were acquired.

Since geologists had never seen lunar rocks before, they wouldn't know a genuine lunar rock from an ordinary earth rock or one that had been fabricated.

This is equivalent to saying that geologists don't know their business. Just because conspiracists don't understand much about the science of geology doesn't mean the professional practitioners don't either.

Geologists know pretty well how the chemical, thermal, and mechanical processes act and interact to produce earth rocks. Consequently they had a pretty good idea of how rocks would form when those factors were different or absent. And while they may not have had much prior experience with lunar material, they had a century or two of experience with earth rocks. To suggest they would not recognize an earth rock for what it was is ludicrous.

We've already shown that the set of properties identified in the samples cannot be artificially manufactured. Whether the samples are real or genuine is irrelevant to this specific point. The samples geologists have examined cannot be manufactured, therefore it is useless to argue that they can be fooled by manufactured fabrications.

Finally, the Soviet Union recovered a few grams of lunar surface material using unmanned probes. The U.S. was permitted to examine the Soviet samples and in return NASA shared its Apollo samples with the Soviets. The Soviets had examined genuine lunar surface material that did not depend on Apollo's authenticity. And so they certainly couldn't be fooled by fabrications designed to exploit the supposed ignorance of geologists. The Soviets accepted the authenticity of the Apollo samples.

The Apollo samples have been examined by many eminent and qualified geologists from all over the world, and none has doubted that they are actual samples of lunar surface material.

Geologists are all trained in government-funded and government-controlled universities. If the government wanted to keep the true nature of the lunar samples secret, it could certainly control what geologists know and learn.

If it's more comfortable for conspiracists to believe than an entire branch of science has been hijacked worldwide for decades by the U.S. government in order to protect its secret, and that this was somehow easier to accomplish than genuinely landing on the moon, then there's not much that can be said.

It's difficult to imagine what influence, if any, the U.S. government could have had over the Soviet Academy of Sciences, whose geologists examined Apollo lunar samples. And there are plenty of other governments and scientists who don't care what the United States government thinks and who can instruct their geologists any way they want.

Conspiracists find it easier to believe than an entire branch of the world's scientific community has either been fooled, co-opted, or intimidated for thirty years!

The U.S. government threatens any geologist with terrible consequences if he should reveal that the samples he obtains from NASA are not actual lunar surface samples.

One must demonstrate a certain eminence in his field in order to obtain a lunar sample. Thus the people obtaining and using these samples are not unknown or obscure people. These are published scientists who aren't going to be interested in pretending to study what they know is a forgery. To suggest that the hundreds of geologists who have published on the Apollo lunar surface samples are somehow participating in the alleged conspiracy -- even just by complicity in keeping the threat a secret -- is incredible.

NASA could have obtained genuine lunar surface material just the way the Soviet Union did: by using unmanned space probes.

In many ways that's even harder to accomplish than a manned landing. The Soviets tried several times and succeeded with only a few such missions and recovered a total of about ten ounces of material. This effort occupied a major portion of the Soviet space program's capacity. It would have required a similarly large portion of the U.S. aerospace capacity to produce secret unmanned probes. And there is also the question of where those spacecraft were launched and upon what kind of rocket. Those things are hard to hide.

As already noted, the Apollo program returned more than 800 pounds (350 kilograms) of material. That's beyond our current sample-return technology, not to mention that available in the 1960s.

But all of that hasn't been examined. Perhaps NASA just obtained a very little bit of actual surface material and just claims to have vast amounts of it.

Most scientists who obtain lunar surface material specifically request pristine materials that have not been previously examined, or even exposed to air or sunlight. It is also possible to request pieces of specific specimens or typical samples from different specimen types. The total amount of pristine material sent out for independent examination exceeds the sample return technology of the 1960s, and probably today's sample return technology as well.

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