Since my wife recently posted a blog on how the moon landing was a hoax I thought I would post a blog on how they really aren’t a hoax but the moon landing really did happen. This is a source of argument between us and has been for some time. If you don’t believe me check out her blog http://shanson3871.wordpress.com/ and browse to the one about the moon landing, you’ll see.
Different Moon landing conspiracy theories claim that some or all elements of the Apollo program and the associated Moon landings were hoaxes staged by NASA and members of other organizations. Various groups and individuals have made such conspiracy claims since the end of the Apollo program in 1975. The most notable claim is that the six manned landings (1969–1972) were faked and that the Apollo astronauts did not walk on the Mooon. The conspiracy theorists (henceforth conspiracists) argue that NASA and others knowingly misled the public into believing the landings happened by manufacturing, destroying, or tampering with evidence; including photos, telemetry tapes, transmissions, rock samples, and even some key witnesses.
There is much third-party evidence for Apollo Moon landings and detailed rebuttals to the hoax claims, including photos taken by more recent spacecraft of the moon landing sites. However, polls taken in various locations have shown that between 6% and 20% of Americans surveyed believe that the manned landings were faked, rising to 28% in Russia.
The first book about the subject, Bill Kaysing’s self-published We Never Went to the Moon: America’s Thirty Billion Dollar Swindle, was released in 1974, two years after the Apollo Moon flights had ended. The Flat Earth Society was one of the first organizations to accuse NASA of faking the landings, arguing that they were staged by Hollywood with Walt Disney sponsorship, based on a script by Arthur C. Clarke and directed by Stanley Kubrick. Mass media have a terrible impact on people who lack guidance”. Those who believe the landings were faked give several theories about the motives of NASA and the United States government. The three main theories are below.
The Space Race
The US government deemed it vital that it win the Space Race against the Soviet Union. Going to the Moon would be risky and expensive, as exemplified by John F. Kennedy famously stating that the United States chose to go because it was hard.
A main reason for the race to the Moon was the Cold War. Philip Plait states in Bad Astronomy that the Soviets—with their own competing Moon program and a formidable scientific community able to analyze NASA data—would have cried foul if the United States tried to fake a Moon landing, especially since their own program had failed. Proving a hoax would have been a huge propaganda win for the Soviets. Bart Sibrel responded, “the Soviets did not have the capability to track deep spacecraft until late in 1972, immediately after which, the last three Apollo missions were suddenly canceled.
However, the Soviets had been sending unmanned spacecraft to the Moon since 1959, and “during 1962, deep space tracking facilities were introduced at IP-15 in Ussuriisk and IP-16 in Evpatoria, while Saturn communication stations were added to IP-3, 4 and 14”, the latter having a 100 million km range. The Soviet Union tracked the Apollo missions at the Space Transmissions Corps, which was “fully equipped with the latest intelligence-gathering and surveillance equipment”. Vasily Mishin, in an interview for the article “The Moon Programme That Faltered” (Spaceflight, March 1991, vol. 33, 2-3), describes how the Soviet Moon program dwindled after the Apollo landings.
It is claimed that NASA faked the landings to forgo humiliation and to ensure that it continued to get funding. NASA raised about $30 billion to go to the Moon, and Bill Kaysing claims that this could have been used to “pay off” many people. Since most conspiracists believe that sending men to the Moon was impossible at the time, they argue that landings had to be faked to fulfill President Kennedy’s 1961 promise: “achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth”. Others have claimed that, with all the known and unknown hazards, NASA would not have risked the public humiliation of astronauts crashing to their deaths on the lunar surface, broadcast on live TV.
It is claimed that the landings helped the US government because they were a popular distraction from the Vietnam War; and so manned landings suddenly ended about the same time that the US ended its role in the Vietnam War.
Many conspiracy theories have been forwarded. They either claim that the landings did not happen and that NASA employees (and sometimes others) have lied; or that landings did happen but not in the way that has been told. Conspiracists have focused on perceived gaps or inconsistencies in the historical record of the missions. The foremost idea is that the whole manned landing program was a hoax from start to end. Some claim that the technology to send men to the Moon was lacking or that the Van Allen radiation belts, solar flares, solar wind, coronal mass ejections and cosmic rays made such a trip impossible.
Vince Calder and Andrew Johnson, scientists from Argonne National Laboratory, gave detailed answers to the conspiracists’ claims on the laboratory’s website. They show that NASA’s portrayal of the Moon landing is fundamentally accurate, allowing for such common mistakes as mislabeled photos and imperfect personal recollections. Using the scientific process, any hypothesis that is contradicted by the observable facts may be rejected. The ‘real landing’ hypothesis is a single story since it comes from a single source, but there is no unity in the hoax hypothesis because hoax accounts vary between conspiracists.
Conspiracists devote much of their efforts to examining NASA photos. They point to oddities in photographs and films taken on the Moon. Photography experts (even those unrelated to NASA) answer that the oddities are what one would expect from a real Moon landing, and not what would happen with tweaked or studio imagery. Some of the main arguments and counter-arguments are listed below.
1. In some photos, crosshairs appear to be behind objects. The cameras were fitted with a reseau plate (a clear glass plate with crosshairs etched on), making it impossible for any photographed object to appear “in front” of the grid. This suggests that objects have been “pasted” over them.
- This only appears in copied and scanned photos, no the originals. It is caused by overexposure: the bright white areas of the emulsion “bleed” over the thin black crosshairs. The crosshairs are only about 0.004 inch thick (0.1 mm) and emulsion would only have to bleed about half that much to fully obscure it. Furthermore, there are many photos where the middle of the crosshair is “washed-out” but the rest is intact. In some photos of the American flag parts of one crosshair appear on the red stripes, but parts of the same crosshair are faded or invisible on the white stripes. There would have been no reason to “paste” white stripes onto the flag.
2. Crosshairs are sometimes misplaced or rotated.
- This is a result of popular photos being cropped and/or rotated for aesthetic impact.
3. The quality of the photographs is implausibly high.
- There are many poor quality photographs taken by the Apollo astronauts. NASA chose to publish only the best examples
- The Apollo astronauts used high resolution Hasselblad 500 EL/M Data cameras with Carl Zeiss optics and a 70mm film magazine.
4. There are no stars in any of the photos; the Apollo 11 astronauts also claimed in a post-mission press conference to not remember seeing any stars
- The astronauts were talking about naked-eye sightings of stars during the lunar daytime. They regularly sighted stars through the spacecraft navigation optics while aligning their inertial reference platforms.
- All manned landings happened during the lunar daytime. Thus, the stars were outshone by the sun and by sunlight reflected off the moon’s surface. The astronauts’ eyes were adapted to the sunlit landscape around them so that they could not see the relatively faint stars. Likewise, cameras were set for daylight exposure and could not detect the stars. Camera settings can turn a well-lit background into ink-black when the foreground object is brightly lit, forcing the camera to increase shutter speed in order not to have the foreground light completely wash out the image. A demonstration of this effect is here. The effect is similar to not being able to see stars from a brightly lit car park at night—the stars only become visible when the lights are turned off. The astronauts could see stars with the naked eye only when they were in the shadow of the Moon.
- An ultraviolet telescope was taken to the lunar surface on Apollo 16 and operated in the shadow of the lunar module. It captured pictures of Earth and of many stars, some of which are dim in visible light but bright in the ultraviolet. These observations were later matched with observations taken by orbiting ultraviolet telescopes. Furthermore, the positions of those stars with respect to Earth are correct for the time and location of the Apollo 16 photographs.
- Pictures of the solar corona that included the planet Mercury and some background stars were taken from lunar orbit by Apollo 15 Command Module Pilot Al Worden.
- Pictures of the planet Venus (which is much brighter than any of the stars) were taken from the Moon’s surface by astronaut Alan Shepard during the Apollo 14 mission.
5. The angle and color of shadows are inconsistent. This suggests that artificial lights were used.
- Shadows on the Moon are complicated by reflected light, uneven ground, wide-angle lens distortion, and lunar dust. There are several light sources: the Sun, sunlight reflected from the Earth, sunlight reflected from the Moon’s surface, and sunlight reflected from the astronauts and the Lunar Module. Light from these sources is scattered by lunar dust in many different directions, including into shadows. Shadows falling into craters and hills may appear longer, shorter and distorted. Furthermore, shadows display the properties of vanishing point perspective, leading them to converge to a point on the horizon. This theory was shown to be untrue on the Mythbusters episode “NASA Moon Landing”.
6. There are identical backgrounds in photos which, according to their captions, were taken miles apart. This suggests that a painted background was used.
- Shots were not identical, just similar. What appear as nearby hills in some photos are actually mountains many miles away. On Earth, objects that are further away will appear fainter and less detailed. On the Moon, there is no atmosphere or haze to obscure distant objects, thus they appear clearer and closer. Furthermore, there are very few objects (such as trees) to help judge distance. One case is debunked in “Who Mourns For Apollo?” by Mike Bara.
7. The number of photographs taken is implausibly high. Up to one photo per 50 seconds.
- Simplified gear with fixed settings allowed two photos a second. Many were taken immediately after each-other as stereo pairs or panorama sequences. The calculation (one per 50 seconds) was based on a single astronaut on the surface, and does not take into account that there were two astronauts sharing the workload during EVA.
8. The photos contain artifacts like the two seemingly matching ‘C’s on a rock and on the ground. These may be labeled studio props.
- The “C”-shaped objects are most likely printing imperfections and do not appear in the original film from the camera. It has been suggested that the “C” is a coiled hair.
9. A resident of Perth, Australia, with the pseudonym “Una Ronald”, said she saw a soft drink bottle in the frame while watching one of the manned landings.
- No such newspaper reports or recordings have been found. Una Ronald’s existence is claimed by only one source. There are also flaws in the story, i.e. the statement that she had to “stay up late” is easily discounted by many witnesses in Australia who watched the event in the middle of their daytime.
10. The book Moon Shot contains an obvious composite photograph of Alan Shepard hitting a golf ball on the Moon with another astronaut.
- It was used instead of the only existing real images, from the TV monitor, which the editors of the book apparently felt were too grainy for their book. The book publishers did not work for NASA.
11. There appear to be “hot spots” in some photographs that look like a huge spotlight was used.
- Pits in Moon dust focus and reflect light in a manner similar to tiny glass spheres used in the coating of street signs, or dew-drops on wet grass. This creates a glow around the photographer’s own shadow when it appears in a photograph (see heiligenshein). If the astronaut is standing in sunlight while photographing into shade, light reflected off his white spacesuit produces a similar effect to a spotlight. Some widely published Apollo photos were high contrast copies. Scans of the original transparencies are generally much more evenly lit.
12. Who filmed Neil Armstrong stepping onto the moon?
- The Lunar Module did. While still on the steps, Armstrong deployed the Modularized Equipment Stowage Assembly from the side of the lunar module. This housed, amongst other things, the TV camera. This meant that upward of 600 million people on earth could take part in the live feed.
13. The astronauts could not have survived the trip because of exposure to radiation from the Van Allen radiation belt and galactic ambient radiation (see radiation poisoning and health threat from cosmic rays). Some conspiracists have suggested that Starfish Prime (high altitude nuclear testing in 1962) was a failed attempt to disrupt the Van Allen belts.
- The spacecraft moved through the belts in about four hours, and the astronauts were protected from the ionizing radiation by the aluminium hulls of the spacecraft. Furthermore, the orbital transfer trajectory from Earth to the Moon through the belts was chosen to lessen radiation exposure. Even Dr James Van Allen, the discoverer of the Van Allen radiation belts, rebutted the claims that radiation levels were too dangerous for the Apollo missions. Plait cited an average dose of less than 1 rem (10 mSv), which is equivalent to the ambient radiation received by living at sea level for three years. The spacecraft passed through the intense inner belt and the low-energy outer belt. The total radiation received on the trip was about the same as allowed for workers in the nuclear energy field for a year.
- The radiation is actually evidence that the astronauts went to the Moon. Irene Schneider reports that 33 of the 36 Apollo astronauts involved in the nine Apollo missions to leave Earth orbit have developed early stage cataracts that have been shown to be caused by radiation exposure to cosmic rays during their trip. At least 39 former astronauts have developed cataracts; 36 of those were involved in high-radiation missions such as the Apollo missions.
14. Film in the cameras would have been fogged by this radiation.
- The film was kept in metal containers that stopped radiation from fogging the film’s emulsion. Furthermore, film carried by unmanned lunar probes such as the Lunar Orbiter and Luna 3 (which used on-board film development processes) was not fogged.
15. The Moon’s surface during the daytime is so hot that camera film would have melted.
- There is no atmosphere to efficiently bind lunar surface heat to devices (such as cameras) that are not in direct contact with it. In a vacuum, only radiation remains as a heat transfer mechanism. The physics of radiative heat transfer are thoroughly understood, and the proper use of passive optical coatings and paints was enough to control the temperature of the film within the cameras; Moon lander temperatures were controlled with similar coatings that gave them a gold color. Also, while the Moon’s surface does get very hot at lunar noon, every Apollo landing was made shortly after lunar sunrise at the landing site. During the longer stays, the astronauts did notice increased cooling loads on their spacesuits as the sun continued to rise and the surface temperature increased, but the effect was easily countered by the passive and active cooling systems. The film was not in direct sunlight, so it wasn’t overheated. Note: The Moon’s day is about 29½ Earth days long, meaning that one Moon day (dawn to dusk) lasts nearly fifteen days.
16. The Apollo 16 crew should not have survived a big solar flare firing out when they were on their way to the Moon. They should have been fried.
- No large solar flare occurred during the flight of Apollo 16. There were large solar flares in August 1972, after Apollo 16 returned to Earth and before the flight of Apollo 17.
17. The flag placed on the surface by the astronauts fluttered despite there being no wind on the Moon. This suggests that it was filmed on Earth and a breeze caused the flag to flutter. Sibrel said that it may have been caused by indoor fans used to cool the astronauts, since their spacesuit cooling systems would have been too heavy on Earth.
- The flag was attached to a Г-shaped rod so that it did not hang down. The flag only seemed to flutter when the astronauts were moving it into position. Without air drag, these movements caused the free corner of the flag to swing like a pendulum for some time. The flag was rippled because it had been folded during storage—the ripples could be mistaken for movement in a still photograph. Videotapes show that when the astronauts let go of the flagpole it vibrates briefly but then remains motionless. This theory was shown to be untrue on the MythBusters episode “NASA Moon Landing”.
18. Footprints in the Moon dust are unexpectedly well preserved, despite the lack of moisture.
- The Moon dust has not been weathered like Earth sand and has sharp edges. This allows the Moon dust particles to stick together and hold their shape in the vacuum. The astronauts likened it to “talcum powder or wet sand”. This theory was shown to be untrue on the MythBusters episode “NASA Moon Landing”
19. The alleged Moon landings used either a sound stage, or were filmed outside in a remote desert with the astronauts either using harnesses or slow-motion photography to make it look like they were on the Moon.
- While the HBO Mini-series “From the Earth to the Moon”, and a scene from “Apollo 13” used the sound-stage and harness setup, it is clearly seen from those films that dust rose did not quickly settle (some dust briefly formed clouds). In the film footage from the Apollo missions, dust kicked-up by the astronauts’ boots and the wheels of the Moon rovers rose quite high (due to the lunar gravity), and settled quickly to the ground in an uninterrupted parabolic arc (due to there being no air to uphold the dust). Even if there had been a sound stage for hoax Moon landings that had had the air pumped-out, the dust would have reached nowhere near the height and trajectory as the dust shown in the Apollo film footage because of Earth gravity. During the Apollo 15 mission, David Scott did an experiment by dropping a hammer and a falcon feather at the same time. Both fell at the same rate and hit the ground at the same time. This proved that he was in a vacuum. This theory was demonstrated to be unsubstantiated on the MythBusters episode “NASA Moon Landing”.
20. The Moon landers made no blast craters or any sign of dust scatter.
- No crater should be expected. The Descent Propulsion System was throttled very far down during the final landing. The Moon lander was no longer quickly decelerating, so the descent engine only had to support the lander’s own weight, which was lessened by the Moon’s gravity and by the near exhaustion of the descent propellants. At landing, the engine thrust divided by the nozzle exit area is only about 10 kilopascals (1.5 PSI). Beyond the engine nozzle, the plume spreads and the pressure drops very quickly. (In comparison the Saturn V F-1 first stage engines produced 3.2 MPa (459 PSI) at the mouth of the nozzle.) Rocket exhaust gases expand much quicker after leaving the engine nozzle in a vacuum than in an atmosphere. The effect of an atmosphere on rocket plumes can be easily seen in launches from Earth; as the rocket rises through the thinning atmosphere, the exhaust plumes broaden very noticeably. To lessen this, rocket engines designed for vacuums have longer bells than those designed for use on Earth, but they still cannot stop this spreading. The Moon lander’s exhaust gases therefore expanded quickly well beyond the landing site. However, the descent engines did scatter a lot of very fine surface dust as seen in 16mm movies of each landing, and many mission commanders spoke of its effect on visibility. The landers were generally moving horizontally as well as vertically, and photos do show scouring of the surface along the final descent path. Finally, the lunar reqolith is very compact below its surface dust layer, further making it impossible for the descent engine to blast out a “crater”. In fact, a blast crater was measured under the Apollo 11 lander using shadow lengths of the descent engine bell and estimates of the amount that the landing gear had compressed and how deep the lander footpads had pressed into the lunar surface and it was found that the engine had eroded between 4 and 6 inches of regolith out from underneath the engine bell during the final descent and landing.
21. The second stage of the launch rocket and/or the Moon lander ascent stage made no visible flame.
- The Moon landers used Aerozine 50 (fuel) and dinitrogen tetroxide (oxidizer) propellants, chosen for simplicity and reliability; they ignite hypergolically –upon contact– without the need for a spark. These propellants produce a nearly transparent exhaust. The same fuel was used by the core of the American Titan rocket. The transparency of their plumes is apparent in many launch photos. The plumes of rocket engines fired in a vacuum spread out very quickly as they leave the engine nozzle (see above), further lessening their visibility. Finally, rocket engines often run “rich” to slow internal corrosion. On Earth, the excess fuel burns in contact with atmospheric oxygen. This cannot happen in a vacuum.
22. There should not have been deep dust around the Moon landers; given the blast from the landing engines.
- The dust is created by a continuous rain of micro-meteoroid impacts and is typically several inches thick. It forms the top of the lunar regolith, a layer of impact rubble several meters thick and highly compacted with depth. On Earth, an exhaust plume might stir up the atmosphere over a wide area. On the Moon, only the exhaust gas itself can disturb the dust. Some areas around descent engines were scoured clean.
Note: Moving footage of astronauts and the Moon rover kicking-up Moondust clearly show the dust kicking up quite high due to the low gravity, but settling quickly without air to stop it. Had these landings been faked on the Earth, dust clouds would have formed. (They can be seen as a ‘goof’ in the movie Apollo 13 when Jim Lovell (played by Tom Hanks) imagines walking on the Moon). This clearly shows the astronauts to be (a) in low gravity and (b) in a vacuum.
23. The Moon landers weighed 17 tons and made no mark on the Moondust, yet footprints can be seen beside them.
- The lander weighed less than three tons on the Moon. The astronauts were much lighter than the lander, but their boots were much smaller than the 1-meter landing pads. Pressure (or force per unit area) rather than force determines the amount of regolith compression. In some photos the landing pads did press into the regolith, especially when they moved sideways at touchdown. (The bearing pressure under the lander feet, with the lander being more than 100 times the weight of the astronauts would in fact have been of similar magnitude to the bearing pressure exerted by the astronauts’ boots.)
24. The air conditioning units that were part of the astronauts’ spacesuits could not have worked in an environment of no atmosphere.
- The cooling units could only work in a vacuum. Water from a tank in the backpack flowed out through tiny pores in a metal sublimator plate where it quickly vaporized into space. The loss of the heat of vaporization froze the remaining water, forming a layer of ice on the outside of the plate that also sublimated into space (turning from a solid directly into a gas). A separate water loop flowed through the LCG (Liquid Cooling Garment) worn by the astronaut, carrying his metabolic waste heat through the sublimator plate where it was cooled and returned to the LCG. Twelve pounds [5.4 kg] of feedwater gave about eight hours of cooling; because of its bulk, it was often the limiting consumable on the length of an EVA. Because this system could not work in an atmosphere, the astronauts needed large external chillers to keep them comfortable during Earth training. Radiative cooling meant there would have been no need to drink water, but it could not work below body temperature in such a small volume. The radiostope thermoelectric generators could use radiative cooling fins to allow indefinite operation because they operated at much higher temperature.
25. Although Apollo 11 had made a landing well outside its target area, Apollo 12 made a pin-point landing, within walking distance (less than 200 meters) of the Surveyor 3 probe, which had landed on the Moon in April 1967.
- The Apollo 11 landing was several kilometers to the southeast of the middle of their intended landing ellipse, but still within it. Armstrong took semi-automatic control of the lander and directed it further down range when it was noted that the intended landing site was strewn with boulders near a moderate sized crater. By the time Apollo 12 flew, the cause of the mistake in the landing site was found, procedures were bettered and allowed Apollo 12 to make its pin-point landing. Apollo 11 fulfilled its role by simply landing safely on the Moon’s surface and a pin-point landing was not needed on its mission. The Apollo astronauts were highly skilled pilots, and the lander was a maneuverable craft that could be accurately flown to a specific landing point. During the powered descent phase the astronauts used the PNGS (Primary Navigation Guidance System) and LPD (Landing Point Designator) to predict where the lander was going to land, and then they would manually pilot it to a chosen point with great accuracy.
26. All six lunar landings happened during the first Presidential administration of Richard Nixon and no leader of any other state has claimed to have landed astronauts on the Moon, even though the mechanical means of doing so should have become progressively much easier after almost 40 years of steady or even swift technological development.
- Other states and later US Presidents were less interested in spending large sums to be merely the second state/President to land men on the Moon. Had Nixon’s administration faked the Moon landings, the Soviets would have been happy to argue for a hoax as a propaganda victory, but the Soviets never did. Further exploration by the US or USSR, such as founding a Moon base, would have been much more costly and maybe too provocative to be in any state’s self-interest during the Cold War.
- The development of the Saturn V rocket, the Apollo CSM and LM and the flights up to Apollo 8 (which orbited the moon) were made before Richard Nixon became president in January 1969. Furthermore, Nixon did not personally care much for the program started by the man who defeated him in the 1960 Presidential Election, and his administration pushed for NASA to cancel Apollo 18, 19, and 20 in favor of the space shuttle program.
27. There should have been more than a two-second delay in communications between Earth and the Moon, at a distance of 400,000 km (250,000 mi).
- The round trip light travel time of more than two seconds is apparent in all the real-time recordings of the lunar audio, but this does not always appear as expected. There may also be some documentary films where the delay has been edited out. Reasons for editing the audio may be time constraints or in the interest of clarity.
28. Typical delays in communication were about 0.5 seconds.
- Claims that the delays were only half a second are untrue, as examination of the original recordings show. It should also be borne in mind that there should not be a straightforward, consistent time delay between every response, as the conversation is being recorded at one end – Mission Control. Responses from Mission Control could be heard without any delay, as the recording is being made at the same time that Houston receives the transmission from the Moon.
29. The Parkes Observetory Australia was billed to the world for weeks as the site that would be relaying communications from the Moon, then five hours before transmission they were told to stand down.
- The timing of the first Moonwalk was changed after the landing. In fact, delays in getting the Moonwalk started meant that Parkes did cover almost the entire Apollo 11 Moonwalk.
30. Parkes supposedly provided the clearest video feed from the Moon, but Australian media and all other known sources ran a live feed from the United States.
- While that was the original plan, and, according to some sources, the official policy, the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) did take the transmission direct from the Parkes and Honeysuckle Creek radio telescopes were converted to NTSC television at Paddington, in Sydney. This meant that Australian viewers saw the Moonwalk several seconds before the rest of the world. See also The Parkes Observatory’s Support of the Apollo 11 Mission, from “Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia”. The events surrounding the Parkes Observatory’s role in relaying the live television of the Moonwalk were portrayed in a slightly fictionalized Australian film comedy The Dish (2000).
31. Better signal was supposedly received at Parkes Observatory when the Moon was on the opposite side of the planet.
- This is not supported by the detailed evidence and logs from the missions.
Third-party evidence for Apollo Moon landings is evidence, or analysis of evidence, about Moon landings that does not come from either NASA, the U.S. government (the first party), or the Apollo Moon landing hoax theorists (the second party). This evidence serves as independent confirmation of NASA’s account of the Moon landings.
A total of 382 kilograms (842 lb) of Moon rocks and dust were collected during the Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17 missions. Some 10 kg (22 lb) of the Moon rocks have been destroyed during hundreds of experiments performed by both NASA researchers and planetary scientists at research institutions unaffiliated with NASA. These experiments have confirmed the age and origin of the rocks as lunar, and were used to identify lunar meteorites collected later from Antarctica. The oldest Moon rocks are up to 4.5 billion years old, making them 200 million years older than the oldest Earth rocks, which are from the Hadean eon and dated 3.8 to 4.3 billion years ago. The rocks returned by Apollo are very close in composition to the samples returned by the independent Soviet Luna programme. A rock brought back by Apollo 17 was accurately dated to be 4.417 billion years old, with a margin of error of plus or minus 6 million years. The test was done by a group of researchers headed by Alexander Nemchin at Curtin University of Technology in Bentley, Australia.
The detection on Earth of reflections from laser ranging retro-reflectors (LRRRs, or mirrors used as targets for Earth-based tracking lasers) on lunar laser ranging experiments left on the Moon is evidence of landings. Quoting from James Hansen’s biography of Neil Armstrong (First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong):
“For those few misguided souls who still cling to the belief that the Moon landings never happened, examination of the results of five decades of LRRR experiments should evidence how delusional their rejection of the Moon landing really is.”