Did we really land on the moon?

15 May 2018

Question

Something which has been bothering me ever since it happened - I’m an old man now. Man supposedly landed on the Moon nearly half a century ago - 50 years ago. Why has nobody ever been back? Was it stage managed because of the Cold War at the time? Did they really get to the Moon or was it stage managed?

Answer

Chris put Peter's query to astronomer Matt Bothwell...

Matt - It’s definitely fact, I’m afraid. We did go back to the Moon a few times. There was the whole Apollo programme which sent several people to the moon. It definitely did happen. I think the reason we didn’t go back is because the reason we went to the Moon in the first place was because of this cold war space race - that kind of ended. I think we realised fairly early on that we can do as much with robots, and it’s much cheaper and much safer than sending people so that’s why we don’t tend to send humans into space so much anymore.

We can know for certain we went to the moon because we have artifacts on the moon. We left a big reflective mirror on there which we can bounce lasers off to measure the distance of the moon.

Chris - People are doing that every day aren’t they?

Matt - That’s right, yes.

Chris - There’s a laser beam that pings off that mirror and that’s how we know the moon is moving what, 2cms further from the Earth every year, give or take?

Matt - Something like that. Yeah, that’s right. We left things on the moon when we went there so yes, we can be very certain that we went.

Chris - Also there was a mission in 2003 which was called Smart One, which was the first example of an ion drive engine driven craft which took lots of pictures of the moon. And they finished the mission by flying over a lot of those landing sites and took pictures of all of the bits and bobs that the astronauts left up there. So we do actually have visual data independently gathered as well. So yeah, I’d say it’s a pretty convincing case, isn’t it that we don’t think it was faked?

Matt - Yes. I’m very happy it wasn’t faked.


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