4. Comparisons of Apollo & Satellite images

This section will deal with each Apollo mission where the moon was at least orbited (or in the case of Apollo 13, slingshotted around).

For each mission a range of images will be selected representing different stages of the mission and showing different parts of the Earth's surface. Wherever possible, multiple satellite sources will be used. ESSA satellite timings will be derived from the meteorological data catalogues for those satellites. Where individual ESSA, ATS or NIMBUS images are available from contemporary sources, these will used in their entirety. Download managers may be required for some links as they do not always display correctly. As the documents and other material are not hosted by the author, no guarantees can made about their permanent existence.

Later digital reconstructions have been used in 3D modelling software (Blender) to recreate the satellite view on a sphere.

Where available, synoptic charts will also be used to show that weather systems visible on the satellite photographs were also present on the charts.

The most appropriate method of displaying the coincident weather systems has required some thought. A simple method of identifying cloud masses by letter has been employed by others on the internet, but it was felt that this would be potentially confusing. Instead, coloured arrows will be used to identify the same weather patterns. The use of arrows may well appear repetitive and to an extent pointless, but consistency requires their use in each image. There are also those out there who can’t see what’s in front of them even when it is described in detail, and will deny the existence of identical features. Actually pointing them out makes this more difficult for them to do.

Each misson is covered in turn, starting with the lunar ones.  Missions are divided into calendar days, with launch day being day 1, regardless of how close to midnight the launch is. Day 2 starts on the midnight after launch. If a day is mission from the record (ie, no photos of Earth were taken), it is also missing from the numbering sequence.Figures are numbered related to the day they are examined on, which makes for complex looking numbers, but it is much easier to add new information as and when it’s uncovered.

The Apollo image will be shown in full, but for the actual analysis only the portion featuring the Earth will be used. Image times will be calculated by looking in the mission transcripts, and comparing the terminator and/or position of visible landmasses with astronomical software. Stellarium was the initial choice, but the SkySafari app has an add-on that tracks mission in space for the lunar missions. This allows the view towards Earth to be derived form the spacecraft’s actual location, rather than just the view from the moon. This has led to an adjustment in some cases of the original times stated. The position of the space craft itself is assumed to be directly over the Earth, and this is shown in each SkySafari image (as well as can be estimated with an android tablet app).  

It is worth re-iterating that no material alteration of the photographs has been performed in any way: no weather systems have been changed on any image. Adjusting brightness and contrast is not a material alteration.

All the images are publicly available and sceptical readers are invited to look at these sources themselves to verify their accuracy. The images on these webpages are reproduced from the pdf document that formed this research’s original web presence, and occasionally that has led to poorer quality. It is too big a job for now to re-do them! If you want higher quality, download the original pdf!

The main aim of each analysis is to identify weather patterns that appear in satellite photographs. A secondary aim is to try and pinpoint a time that the photograph was taken, and this will be primarily done with the track records of the satellites.  Additional sources, such as voice transcripts, descriptions given in the various image sources on the internet, contemporary journals and media, and where possible the photographic index from each mission (these can, in some missions, indicate the orbit concerned and the mission elapsed time). The latter will be used sparingly, as it is the evidence within the photographs themselves that is the most important factor here.

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