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-
Figure 5.9.10: 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 -
"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."
"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 5.9.11). You could not, absolutely not, have predicted the Earth as seen by Apollo using the weather data they had.
The images were also distributed to newspapers well in advance of the events they related to, and again you may have noticed regular inclusion of images printed in the Sarasota Herald Tribune every day that could not be manipulated after the fact. Figure 5.9.9 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 5.9.9: 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 -
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 -
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.”
“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-
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-
“...these videos have been compared with photos of earth taken by weather satellites in orbit at the time. Naturally, the pro-
I’d argue first of all that his response is typical of liars who make stuff up about Apollo -
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. Even those NASA staff with access to them recognised that they weren’t that good, eg Richard Underwood, a key figure in Apollo photography procedures
“These were rather rudimentary satellites compared to today's satellites, but you had the general idea”
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 5.9.10.
That’s right, no computer terminals, no banks of whirring tapes, just a bunch of guys gathered round some print-
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-
“Experiments successfully conducted with the ATS-
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-
The authors then turn their attention to ATS-
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 -
Figure 5.9.12: analysis of a hemisphere’s weather data.
Obviously “Scott” needs to research how many satellites were working simultaneously, but “Xiaoyaozi”, the facebook name for the fake “Dr. Rasaviharii” (whatever he says, he’s not a doctor, he doesn’t work for the Chinese Space Programme) is desperately flailing to cover up the holes in his theories. I assume by “NASA website” he means the ALSJ (who do reference this site), which may be hosted by NASA but isn’t run by it. It’s also telling that he can’t be bothered to verify the data. He’s either lazy or scared that it might shake his foundations too much.
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-
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 5.9.2 shows, 45 countries used the data that these satellites collected.
Figure 5.9.2: First day cover from my collection celebrating the launch of ESSA-
An advert in a well known journal in 1969 has adverts for ‘inexpensive’ satellite receiver systems (see figure 5.9.4)
Figure 5.9.4: 1969 Advert for satellite receiver system.
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 5.9.12, 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.
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-
Figure 5.9.14: Original print of AS11-
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-
It’s worth bearing in mind here that an image was taken every 20 minutes by ATS-
Likewise their accusation that ATS-
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 -
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 that laid the turd is Australian or Russian -
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 5.9.21 for your amusement, and to record for posterity that he offered £10k (twice) to prove him wrong.
Figure 5.9.15: Images of Earth taken from the original 70mm catalog compared an the ATS-
There is no way ATS-
They make the same kind of claims for Apollo 15 and AS15-
Unfortunately for them there is an ATS-
Figure 5.9.17: ATS-
The authors handwave away any possible counter-
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-
Figure 5.9.19: Position of Africa in Apollo 15 image compared with ATS-
Figure 5.9.18: Apollo 15 image compared with ATS-
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 5.9.22).
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-
“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 -
On top of that, we also know that there are whole sequences of these black and white images that show the Earth rotating -
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 5.9.23 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, you manage it all by yourself.
Speaking of dumb, it’s worth checking a new claim about satellites, discussed in the Apollo 11 section here.
It was originally claimed by Bart Sibrel that the views of Earth were done in LEO by superimposing a transparency of Earth on the window. For years hoax morons have swallowed that bullshit whole and made merry without, despite all the flaws, misrepresentations and outright lies in his arguments.
The new claim is shown below in figure 5.9.24.
Figure 5.9.21: Selected screenshots from a hoax group trying to claim the same image is faked differently for different reasons.
Figure 5.9.22: 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 5.9.23: facebook group admin explanation for disappearing threads
Figure 5.9.5: Amateur enthusiast builds his own satellite receiving kit (1966) (Sourced frm ebay)
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.
Figure 5.9.1: Social media arguments against the use of satellites
Figure 5.9.3: Right -
‘Inexpensive’ is debatable, $5171 was a lot of money back then, but you could always just make your own (see figure 5.9.5 above).
Readers who looked over Apollo 16’s pages here will recall how The Guardian were publishing satellite images supplied not by ESSA, or NASA, but by a British university that had its own receiving equipment (figure 5.9.6)
Figure 5.9.6: ESSA satellite images printed in The Guardian. Source.
Figure 5.9.11: Computer modelling of Apollo era data in comparison with actual photos (sources given in text).
Figure 5.9.13: Partially illuminated ATS-
Figure 5.9.16: 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
Figure 5.9.20: First day covers commemorating ‘secret’ satellite launches available on eBay
Figure 5.9.24: hoax claims
So, we’ve now gone from a transparency of a bit of Earth to a satellite image.
No. Just no.
Firstly, as already discussed, there was no colour satellite covering the views shown.
Secondly, the views rotated over time, including during the live broadcast showing Hurricane Bernice.
Thirdly, the only satellite that could have produced the images took 24 hours to produce a whole day’s footage of Earth. Those images then needed compiling into a realistic sphere, colourised, then converted to a transparency. They simply weren’t available during the timeframe required.
Finally, someone had to do all that. Someone had to do the projection, someone had to coordinate it all. Someone had to convince the team at Goldstone that they weren’t getting a signal broadcast from Langley. All on live TV. That’s right, live TV. The claims that the images and radio were not coordinated is garbage. It’s a combination of goalpost moving and clutching at straws producing an ever more complex hoax scenario involving even more people. It doesn’t stand up to even the slightest amount of scrutiny.
We have similar arguments employed in response to a similar comment regarding an Apollo 17 TV transmission (figure 5.9.25)
Figure 5.9.25: Facebook claims about weather satellites.
We’ll deal with Crouching Dimwit, Hidden Brain cell’s comment first.
Secondly, NASA doesn’t control the weather satellites. That’s a different set of organisations. They also don’t control access to those images, nor do they control the Soviet weather satellites. Not one person, or organisation, has ever come out and said “These are wrong”. Ever. Because they aren’t.
Jarrah’s response needs more thought. His use of the word ‘propagandist’ is a typical piece of poisoning the well from him. This website isn’t propaganda, it’s an honest attempt to refute idiocy and ignorance. It makes him out to be some sort of victim fighting against the bad guys. He isn’t.
We have all seen weather forecasters predict the directions of clouds -
I’ve watched his video and he spends a lot of time getting hung up on semantics. He also claims to have found reports from NASA proving you can predict cloud movement using satellites.
This is the first one. The first point to make is that it is from 2005, using much more advanced satellites than were available to Apollo. The second point to make is that the study is not about predicting cloud movements, it is about comparing a model what happens during cloud seeding with actual imagery. It’s is confirming the accuracy of a model, not predicting how clouds move.
The second one he cites is from 2008, 40 years after Apollo 8! It is also, again, using data to confirm the accuracy of a model, and the report concludes that the predictions are ‘reasonable’ for the short term, less so for the longer term. 40 years after humans first photographed Earth from lunar orbit, meteorological models are still not good at predicting the future.
This is the final one he uses, and this one is at least from the Apollo era. Again, it’s using actual imagery to confirm how well a model does, but in no way can it be said that this model is accurate enough to show a precise and exact model of Earth’s cloud distribution with the accuracy shown by Apollo imagery.
Jarrah does point out that there are well know global patterns that recur regularly, and infers from this that the images are just using what we now know to fake the imagery. However, we only know that these patterns occur regularly because of satellite meteorology. We didn’t have decades of observation to back up this idea 50+ years ago. Furthermore, while we can say that there will always be, for example, an ITCZ, or a south Pacific ‘V’ cloud distribution, we can’t make exact and precise predictions of exactly what those patterns will look like and when they will appear. The only way we can do that is with precise, 100% accurate computer modelling, and we’re only now acquiring the ability to do that.
To clarify the point, this article describes how the use of satellites to actually forecast weather only really became possible with the introduction of atmospheric sounding instruments (eg looking at temperature, moisture and water vapour) on Nimbus 3 in April 1969, describing how meteorologists stayed up “all night” to analyse data and show the position and movement of atmospheric currents not visible to normal cameras. Even these instruments were unable to penetrate cloud cover, and it wasn’t until the use microwave sounders from 1978 onwards that complete atmospheric profiles (the kind previously gathered by balloons) were available to forecasters.
This 1969 article discusses the potential uses of satellites, again describing the limitations mentioned above. The mathematical models of weather development using computers are promising, it says, however:
"Although the accuracy of current forecasts usually deteriorates rather rapidly beyond 48 [hours], integrations for up to 5 days, with even the present rather crude model, produce coherent atmospheric patterns that retain some reality in their broad features though they may be incorrect in detail. These and other investigations encourage us to believe that, given adequate observations and computing facilities, it should be possible within the next few years to produce reliable forecasts of the basic weather patterns for 5 to 7 days ahead, and a useful indication of general trends over periods of perhaps 2 to 3 weeks."
So short term forecasting is reasonable, but the kind of forecasting required in Jarrah’s view of the state of the art at the time just isn’t available. Furthermore, it says that:
"...it is one thing to measure the spectral distribution of radiation received by the satellite from the underlying atmosphere, and quite another to deduce from these measurements the vertical distribution of atmospheric temperature or humidity with the accuracy required for use in numerical forecasting."
It’s that vertical distribution that was only just beginning to be measured at the time of Apollo.It confirms my view stated earlier that:
"…the accuracy of the observations required by the sophisticated mathematical models of weather prediction...impose stringent requirements on the measuring techniques and a basic network of conventional surface and upper-
Similarly this article in the November 1970 edition of ‘Popular Science’, says
“Today, while we know the general equations [of the Earth’s energy balance], we do not know many of the numerical figures we would have to feed into the computer.”
It concludes that a reliable five day forecast will be available “10 years from now”.
In other words, when Apollo was taking photographs, 16mm film and live TV views of Earth, weather forecasters were only just acquiring the ability to take the measurements that would have been needed to predict with absolute certainty the weather patterns shown in them. That certainty would not come for decades, and is arguably still not totally there.
He also gets hoist by his own petard by nitpicking over the difference between weather and cloud patters -
There’s also the small matter of Landsat’s exact replication of the Antarctic ice flows seen in the Apollo 17 imagery. Where are your computer models for that?
Again, Jarrah, you don’t “know” anything, you’re just retro-
And again, it is a moot point: it doesn’t matter whether or not something was possible (it wasn’t), the question is “was it done”. If you think someone managed to produce real time computer models showing how Earth could have looked days in advance and then made live TV, 16mm film and high resolution photographs on the back of that prediction, prove it. Find who did it, where and when. Show us the computer models and graphics processors. You can’t because it didn’t happen.
You’re also forgetting that these allegedly fake Earths are backed up by actual satellite images. In other words, ‘they’ somehow used satellite images to model Earth’s likely cloud distribution, and it just so happens that the satellite images taken later are an exact match. This isn’t possible now (just good estimates) and certainly wasn’t then. 100% accurate predictive satellite photography is just not a thing.
In reality, this is the same old hoax tactic: make a claim, find out it’s stupid, move the goalposts. Bad news: it’s still stupid.
The ‘free to air’ aspect extended to official co-
"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."
This article by Hank Brandli (the man who ‘saved Apollo 11) describes how it was believed China were intercepting the freely available American images and supplying misinformation to counter their results.
“Evidence indicated that the Chinese and possibly the North Vietnamese also were processing daytime satellite photos, sometimes, intercepted surface observations reported bad weather when the satellite photos indicated just the opposite”
He also confirms that
“Anyone who had VHF receiving equipment could use the U.S. Weather Bureau and NASA satellites”
So the Chinese were more than happy with the veracity of US images to use in their own forecasting.
This exchange in a US Congress Senate Committee in May 1969 also confirms that their weather satellite image were freely availably, including to communist countries, and that “anyone who wanted to” could build a receiver (figure 5.9.7).
Figure 5.9.7: House of Congress discussion of ESSA activities.
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. This document describes Canada’s use of the images,supplies examples of ones downloaded by its Toronto receiving station (figure 5.9.8), and mentions that 90 other countries have the same capability.
Figure 5.9.8: examples of Canada’s satellite image downloads.