NASA (as well as popular radio ham journals) even sold documents showing you how to do it, such as this one. The images were used in many journals and research programmes, and no-one has ever questioned them. They were used in conjunction with weather charts and no-one has ever questioned these. As mentioned in section 2, I’ve done it myself in the 1980s. Contributors to this amateur radio website describe receiving and processing ATS-3 signals in the early 1970s, and here’s one produced in 1972 by a Czechoslovakian amateur (figure 5.9.1).

Next Previous Back to Discussion Index

Figure 5.9.4: Hurricane Bernice on July 15th 1969 (left) and 16th (right).

The quick answer is: they couldn’t and didn’t. They were relying on ground and atmospheric data to predict the track of the hurricane, there is no way they could predict that it would end up in that shape.

They also didn’t have weather satellites “long before” Apollo - in fact it was just a few years - the science was in its infancy. This 1973 publication (which contains the images of Hurricane Bernice’s development in July 1969) summarises the state of the art nicely:

"Knowledge of the physical behaviour of this kind of storm has progressed to the point where it is possible to issue alerts and provisional warnings to the public for areas which may be affected by them. But so far, it is impossible to predict the exact times and locations at which these severe storms may occur."

and

"The public benefit [of satellite information] is tremendous but the system is too new for its potential to be fully realised"

So even after Apollo had finished the science of satellite meteorology is still in relative infancy and could not do what Jarrah claims. This 1968 article also makes an interesting point when discussing the use of satellite data in predicting the development of hurricanes:

“Satellite data, which have become increasingly available during recent years, have helped in the detection and tracking of the hurricanes…They have not been used, however, in the development of forecasts of hurricane motion”

Showing that, during the Apollo era at least,while you can tell where a hurricane might be heading, you can’t tell what it will look like when it gets there.

Even by 1972 we have comments like this in the Mariner’s Weather Log,

“The meteorologist is often asked whether satellite observations have reduced the need for ship reports. Quite the contrary is true. Before the satellite meteorologist can understand what he sees in the pictures, he must compare them with other known data…”

Showing that satellite images were not (and still are not) the be all and end all of weather forecasting.

This paper from 1975 looks at the use of satellite imagery to predict hurricane development, and is interesting in that it uses images downloaded in Berlin from US satellites. However, in a response to it a contributor to the journal notes the need for experienced satellite image interpreters and wonders whether different people would arrive at different interpretations. Clearly the early years of satellite meteorology not only required the development of instrumentation that complemented visual ones but also the training of meteorologists in interpreting the data correctly. Even by the mid 1970s this was still under debate.

This page, written to commemorate 50 years since Apollo 11’s landing, as well as this article, use modern computers to input the known weather details for Apollo 11 and 17 to see what the computer could come up with. It is close, but even modern technology can’t get it absolutely right (figure 5.9.5). You could not, absolutely not, have predicted the Earth as seen by Apollo using the weather data they had.





‘Inexpensive’ is debatable, $5171 was a lot of money back then.

The ‘free to air’ aspect extended to official co-operation between the USA & USSR, who (as described in this document) agreed to share data about and from their meteorological satellites. Of course the USSR was not the only political rival to the US. China were also very much ideologically opposed, but that didn’t stop them making good use of US weather data, as detailed in this book on the Chinese space programme:

"At the end of the 1960s, China developed its first meteorological satellite cloud image receiver and began to obtain meteorological satellite images from ESSA satellite."

So the Chinese were more than happy with the veracity of US images to use in their own forecasting. This video from Pathe News describes how the UK, which doesn’t yet have its own weather satellites, is building receiver stations for American ones.

The images were also distributed to newspapers well in advance. Figure 5.9.3 shows one issued in advance of Apollo 12’s splashdown, and while Apollo 12 doesn’t have any images of Earth taken on this date it does show that the images were available and not some carefully controlled secret.

Figure 5.9.23: Press photo sold on eBay showing the satellite image of landing area of Apollo 12 compared with ESSA view of the landing area on the 22nd (top and bottom left) and the 23rd (bottom middle and right).

There are a couple of things worth pointing out here. Firstly, we can check the ESSA data to make sure that it is actually from the date it is claimed to be, and indeed it is. The cloud patterns around the landing area on the 23rd are very different on the days 22nd (there is no global ESSA mosaic for the 24th). The second point is the source - it is given as ESSA in the photograph, but it seems highly unlikely given the way that ESSA images were compiled. My opinion, and I am happy to stand corrected, is that this is an ATS-1 view of the landing area. An image dated the 23rd would actually not have covered the landing area until as late as 02:00 GMT on the 24th, and even a west coast press photo at 8 hours behind GMT would struggle to get that image collated, processed, georectified to produce the correct 3D view of the Earth and then released on the 23rd.  There are also subtle differences between the image shown and the ESSA view. A single ATS-1 image, however, would simply need to be processed and then released. While we don’t have access to any, we do know the satellite was still active, and it seems the newspaper is mistaken.

The point remains: the satellite image was freely available and published in a newspaper.

A further indication of how available these images were is indicated in this paper. It is based on the activities of a UN cruise off West Africa using a Bureau of Commercial Fisheries vessel (the ‘Undaunted’) registered in Miami. The vessel was fitted with receiver terminals for both ATS and ESSA satellites. The authors discuss how the images were obtained and their quality, give a couple of example, and also make this comment:

“To supplement the shipboard TV -pictures, 276 ESSA-6 pictures of African coastal waters during September 15 -December 1, 1968, were purchased from the Mulemba Astronomical Observatory. Luanda, Angola.”

At the time Angola was still effectively a Portuguese colony. Not only were they able to download them on board, they were able to get copies from an African observatory to verify that their images were accurate. Likewise this article, discussing what was then Rhodesia’s attempt to download satellite imagery for weather forecasting says:

“Meteorological Office technicians now regularly record the pulses emitted by weather satellites, particularly Nimbus II, as they pass over southern Africa – but instead of using the sophisticated equipment designed for the purpose which may be imported from Britain or America at a cost of between £10 000 and £18 000, they use equipment designed, constructed and adapted in their own workshops at a cost of less than £200.”

and

“Outside Rhodesia, Kenya is believed to be the only country in Africa at present tapping the information available from the American weather satellites as they cross and re-cross the skies of this continent.  The weather pictures recorded in Salisbury are made freely available to forecasting stations in other parts of the sub-continent.”

Two African countries there helping themselves to satellite data freely available. Similarly this article describes how

“…in 1974 in an attempt to investigate the possibility of receiving satellite signals. Results with relatively unsophisticated apparatus showed that these radio signals could be tracked very well. Since very strong signals were received from the weather satellites ESSA 8 and NOAA 3, it was decided to develop the necessary apparatus for the demodulation of picture data from weather satellites.”

The page also mentions Russian Meteor satellites and their broadcasting frequencies. Countries all over the globe were clearly making use, officially or otherwise, of the satellite transmissions showing the weather.

Given the ready availability of satellite transmissions and the relative ease of decoding them, suggesting that the satellite images themselves were faked really is clutching at the flimsiest of imaginary straws.

A side argument here is a claim by some morons (specifically Jarrah White, but others have joined in the straw clutching) that satellites had been used by NASA to predict the weather, then they were able to predict where the clouds would be and therefore make fake images to put in the broadcasts.

Here, for example, is Jarrah’s knee-jerk take on it, which he repeats on many of his youtube uploads:

“...these videos have been compared with photos of earth taken by weather satellites in orbit at the time. Naturally, the pro-NASA side has been quick to call this "evidence". This trait is typical among propagandists: they present a piece of data or video that they don't know how to fake, and they assume that anything they don't know how to fake must be evidence that Apollo was real. Considering that NASA had many weather satellites in orbit long before and during Apollo, and that meteorologists had been using such satellite photographs to predict cloud formations and thus make forecasts for the week's weather, I'd say that's how NASA was able to get the cloud positions right in these videos.”

I’d argue first of all that his response is typical of liars who make stuff up about Apollo - they get evidence that blows their crap out of the water and they respond by making things up. I call it more than evidence, I call it proof.

Jarrah also says that

“Apparently the cloud formations seen in these telecasts are similar to those seen by weather satellites”.

Here’s the thing Jarrah, they aren’t similar, they match perfectly, which is remarkable given that the images hadn’t been completed at the time of the broadcasts. The use of the word ‘apparently’ also suggests he hasn’t actually seen any of the satellite images, so he’s trying to pass a judgement without knowing what he’s actually making a judgement about.

As was discussed in the introductory pages of this research, in the early days of satellite meteorology weather images were used to verify other data, not to predict the weather. They were still unclear as to how clouds behaved and what the satellite images were actually showing, and much of the early research publications are based around ‘ground truthing’ satellite data. How, for example, could they have taken the satellite image of Hurricane Bernice from the day before launch and converted that into what was visible the day of the broadcast, as shown in figure 5.9.4.

That’s right, no computer terminals, no banks of whirring tapes, just a bunch of guys gathered round some print-outs.

Jarrah also needs to consider that the TV broadcasts were made before the satellite images were available, so in order for his scenario to be true it’s actually the weather forecasters who are having to fake the data to match Apollo images. Which is it Jarrah? Were all the world’s meteorologists in on it, given that anyone could get these satellite images? Is everyone wrong except you?

In a nutshell Jarrah, and everyone else who tries to dismiss the weather satellite data, is just desperately clutching at straws to try and handwave away the proof of what they are: ignorant bullshit artists.

Speaking of bullshit artists, this site came to my attention thanks to a moon hoax social media group. It was posted as a way of saying that the Russians never said “but it was faked”. They seem to have mistaken “some Russians are saying it was faked” for “actual Russians who know what they’re talking about said was faked at the time”, but whatever.

One article on there, namely this one, makes some claims that are relevant to this discussion, so let’s have a look.

We have to make allowances for Google translate, but in a nutshell their argument is that NASA used the ATS satellites in geostationary orbit to fake the Apollo images, and that they were able to do this by not releasing many images of Earth.

Let’s examine their nonsense.

One of their first objections to the available satellite image record is that ATS-1 only posted black and white images. This is despite them finding this website stating that:

“Experiments successfully conducted with the ATS-1 included photographs of earth, color television transmission, and a demonstration of multiple access capability with several ground stations at the same time”

They conclude from this that there should be images of Earth in colour. The problem is that the colour television images are just that: colour television. ATS-1 was a multi-purpose satellite, and could be used to relay TV pictures. It had, however, no colour capability of its own.

The authors then turn their attention to ATS-3, which genuinely did have colour capability, at least for the first few months if its life before the cameras malfunctioned. In their version of events, the successful deployment of Soviet satellites in a Molniya orbit (an eccentric one designed to maximise coverage of the USSR) forced NASA to show colour images. Then, for some reason, they decided to stop.

This is, of course, utter nonsense. The colour images (and there were far more than the three claimed in the article, and not all of them were fully illuminated disks) were published because they existed. They existed because they could be taken. The Soviets had no influence on them whatsoever - in fact, the main role of colour was to help determine cloud heights, not act as a background for Apollo. The partial disks, they claim, were hidden so as to reserve them for faking Apollo photographs. Again, nonsense, as can be seen from the many examples of partial disks available in the data catalogs that were freely available (figure 5.9.7).



Figure 5.9.6: analysis of a hemisphere’s weather data.


Source: Youtube

5.9:   NASA owns the satellites, they have all the opportunity to fake satellite images

It is another feature of those who believe that the moon landings were faked that NASA is some omnipotent organisation that both controls and dictates all of the scientific information worldwide on any facet of the space programme by anyone, ever. This is despite the fact that they hold them to be incapable of the most basic science in the alleged fakery.

They are unable to grasp the idea that once the satellites were launched, they were no longer the responsibility of NASA but of the organisation that paid for them. It is like assuming Ford are still entirely responsible for everything that I do in my car.

Granted it is difficult to deny the interlinked nature of the various organisations involved. ESSA, NOAA, JPL, NASA are all involved in building and launching satellites and operating them afterwards, but while many hoax believers will raise a big “A-HAA!” at this, it is not in itself proof of anything and merely adds more players into the cast of alleged fakers.

The other factor to bear in mind here is that the satellite images were 'free to air' broadcasts. Anyone could download them providing they had the equipment. As this 1968 first day cover in figure 5.9.0 shows, 45 countries used the data that these satellites collected.

Figure 5.9.0: First day cover from my collection celebrating the launch of ESSA-8 in 1968

Figure 5.9.1: Amateur radio receiver image of a Polar Orbital satellite from 1972 (source)


An advert in a well known journal in 1969 has adverts for ‘inexpensive’ satellite receiver systems (see figure 5.9.2)

Figure 5.9.2: 1969 Advert for satellite receiver system.

Figure 5.9.5: Computer modelling of Apollo era data in comparison with actual photos (sources given in text).


There is an interesting corollary to this argument. While the photographs are not exact replicas of Apollo images, the powerful modern computing techniques applied to the available data at the time were able to produce good facsimiles of them. Despite not having the computing power to predict what the visual appearance of Earth’s weather system would look like, Apollo photographs are a very good match with those created by 21st century computer models. In other words the modern techniques verify the accuracy of Apollo’s imagery. This can only be because it’s genuine.

By way of comparison with modern technology, figure 5.9.6, taken from a video promoting the DoD’s DMSP programme, shows just how advanced the interpretation of weather images from space in the early days of the science.

Figure 5.9.7: Partially illuminated ATS-3 images from the Apollo 11 period, reproduced from the data catalog.


Not to mention this film, again freely available, that showed the passage of night and day across the Earth’s disk.

The authors then move on to construct ever more elaborate strawmen. They have managed to find two special publications (Life Magazine and Look magazine) both of which contain one image of Earth, namely AS11-36-5355, but seem to think this is the only image of Earth published by anybody anywhere. Anyone who has perused the entirely of my site will know that this is nonsense - many images of Earth from the mission were available in a variety of publications. They are puzzled as to why the image’s metadata aren’t published, but they really need to take that up with the publishers. NASA themselves were quite free with the information, as shown in the contemporary print below from my own collection (figure 5.9.8).

Figure 5.9.8: Original print of AS11-36-5355, from my own collection, with image details on the reverse shown above.

Likewise they need to contact the owners of other publications and websites to ask them why they produce different distance and date figures from NASA’s, and edit the image differently. The actual facts have been freely available for over 50 years, you just need to be prepared to look for them. They are not different images taken on different days, they are the same image that people have given the wrong information for. Do your research!

There’s a lot more strawmen production and “this is what they must have done” involving nothing more than fabrication and ignorance.

Different images of Earth are claimed to be reproductions using satellite images with no proof. They claim that because geostationary satellites can be placed in transfer orbits that allow them to change position, then they must have moved them around. They would have been very busy, because at the same time as Apollo 11 was photographing Africa ATS-3 was firmly positioned over the mid-Atlantic. They claim ATS-1 was imaging Australia, despite the fact that it didn’t cover Australia. Figure 5.9.9 shows images of Earth taken at different times (which can be confirmed by the clouds on ATS-3 images!) but all over the same spot. In other words, it didn’t move, it couldn’t have within the time available and wouldn’t have had the fuel!


It’s worth bearing in mind here that an image was taken every 20 minutes by ATS-3, any sudden movement from side to side would have been noticed very quickly. They note in their article that the ATS images don’t change latitude much, but while (for example) Greenland is obviously visible in Apollo 11 views, it is barely visible at all in ATS-3 shots. While they point at the Molniya orbits and the photos taken by Zond showing similar angles (see this section), they can’t produce any actual evidence for anything producing similar photos for Apollo 11 - except Apollo 11!

Likewise their accusation that ATS-1 images were used to fake three different views of Australia (figure 5.9.10).

Figure 5.9.14: First day covers commemorating ‘secret’ satellite launches available on eBay


Like many hoax idiots, they assume that NASA is behind this flickr account and claim all other images of Earth have magically appeared in 2004 when in reality they were publicly available at the time - even appearing on CD-ROMs available in the late 90s. Original prints showing Earth come up regularly at auctions and on sites like this. My own site has plenty.

They ignore all the 16mm and TV images of Earth and seem to think that the only images that exist are ones in popular magazines, not realising that documents like this published all of them. They don’t seem to know that there are images taken at regular intervals that can’t possibly have been taken by a satellite because it couldn’t have moved that far or that fast.

They don’t trust the electronic versions of the photographs but don’t seem willing or able to find the many original copies that exist out there.

They base a hefty chunk of their hoax claims on the editorial decisions of magazine editors rather than the facts that are available to anyone who cares to look: Apollo happened, weather satellites are the nail in the coffin of the hoax, not some magic wand they can wave at their illusions.

Doesn’t matter whether the cow the laid the turd is Australian or Russian - bullshit is bullshit. Starting with a conclusion, bending what few facts you’ve bothered to find to fit, forcing in a bunch of “maybes”, “could haves” and “secret stuff” isn’t going to make it smell any less.

We get a recent and particularly aromatic addition to this particular section in the form of a facebook post on a moon landing hoax group, a group that helpfully collects all the world’s stupid in one place where we can keep an eye on them.

The poster first became noteworthy by declaring that images from the surface were fake because they didn’t show the Americas, which was mainly because he couldn’t tell the difference between am and pm when setting the time in his astronomy software. That post disappeared, to be replaced by one that didn’t understand time zones, didn’t understand that the landing and the photography happened at different times, got the date of his chosen photos wrong and didn’t seem to realise that there was a camera in orbit at the same time as on the ground. A collection of screenshots are shown in figure 5.9.15 for your amusement), and to record for posterity that he offered £10k (twice) to prove him wrong.


Figure 5.9.9: Images of Earth taken from the original 70mm catalog compared an the ATS-3 image from the same day. The Earth images were taken over a span of about 5 hours.

There is no way ATS-1 could move over that distance in order to photograph all of Australia.

They make the same kind of claims for Apollo 15 and AS15-91-12342 (figure 5.9.12), claiming that the show the continents in exactly the same position as the 1967 ATS-3 photo, and therefore must have been taken by ATS-3 at a different time.

Figure 5.9.10: Three images of Australia used in the Russian article. They were taken (left to right) at 01:00 20/07/69, 04:15 21/07/69 and 05:07 22/07/69


Unfortunately for them there is an ATS-1 image available for the last image on the 22nd, (figure 5.9.11). It should be obvious from it that Australia is considerably off camera. They also conveniently ignore AS11-37-5506’s view of Australia, where it is even more central.

Figure 5.9.11: ATS-1 image taken 22/07/69. Source.

The authors handwave away any possible counter-arguments by claiming that there might have been other satellites covering the areas launched in secret, despite the fact that even military satellite launches were well publicised (figure 5.9.14). Rocket launches are noisy and very visible. They’re difficult to hide and the end results can be seen from the ground.


Well, for one thing the continents are not in an identical position, and for another this article, this article and this article all have ATS-3 in a position much further west at the time of the mission (figure 5.9.13). Compared with the 47 degrees West claimed by the authors.

Figure 5.9.13: Position of Africa in Apollo 15 image compared with ATS-3 when lined up with South America (top left), and the position of ATS-3 as reported in scientific reports.

Figure 5.9.12: Apollo 15 image compared with ATS-3 image in the Russian article.

When another user pointed out (for a different reason, see here) that a black and white photo existed he declared that it was a satellite photo, saying this (figure 5.9.15).


There’s a lot of word salad there, and as you might imagine very few of those words are actually his. It’s heavily lifted from this publication. In a nutshell, what he’s trying to intimate is that you can’t see city lights, therefore it’s a fake because satellites also don’t see them. The reality is that you can’t see city lights for pretty much the same reason you don’t see stars in Apollo photos: exposure time. It doesn’t help his case that the article in question discusses infra-red data, not visible spectrum, and is based on a study of satellite instruments carried on a plane - instruments way beyond the capabilities of Apollo era satellites. He also misses out a key phrase in his cherry picking. Here’s the exact quote:

“In other words, urban lights emit, on average, significantly lower power than solar radiation reflected by soils. However, the difference between the two sources becomes small in the narrow spectral bands in which city light emission is concentrated.”

In other words, if we look at (for example) orange sodium lights and compare it with the same light frequencies in solar radiation reflected back, there isn’t much between them. However, reflected sunlight isn’t just orange - it’s blue, green red, brown, yellow and all points in between. There’s also much more of it. Images showing city lights at night are invariably either long exposures or composites, not fast exposure ones.

On top of that, we also know that there are whole sequences of these black and white images that show the Earth rotating - something not possible with a geostationary satellite, and that rotation shows views not consistent with the actual satellite view (in terms of the visible landmasses). He also doesn’t know that there are matching colour photos taken at similar times as the black and white ones.

What he’s doing, as he has done all along, is demonstrate his lack of knowledge of the subject, his lack of awareness of just how many Earth images there are, and a willingness to cherry pick information that suits his narrative even when it doesn’t. Sadly, the thread got deleted. Why? Figure 5.9.16 has the explanation, given to someone wondering why entire threads were deleted.



That’s right, you really don’t need any help to look really dumb.

Figure 5.9.14: Selected screenshots from a hoax group trying to claim the same image is faked differently for different reasons.

Figure 5.9.15: Selected screenshots from a hoax group claiming that an apollo image is a weather satellite view. Also included is a cropped version of the image.

Figure 5.9.16: facebook group admin explanation for disappearing threads