Debunked: Apollo 17 helmet reflection shows an unsuited stage hand [reflection of astronaut]

PCWilliams

Senior Member.
Has anybody covered this yet?

The newest round of fake moon conspiracies says Gene Cernan's visor in the image below is reflecting a person not in a moon suit.

A link to one such story: http://www.newsweek.com/fake-apollo-moon-landing-photo-claims-show-proof-mission-was-hoax-716221

I think it's simply Harrison Schmitt standing there taking the photo.

A copy of the original image can be found here: https://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a17/AS17-141-21608HR.jpg (https://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a17/images17.html#MagL)

AS17-141-21608HR.jpg

AS17-141-21608HR_PSD.jpg

An even higher resolution copy of this image: https://spaceflight.nasa.gov/gallery/images/apollo/apollo17/html/as17-141-21608.html

Mod: added HD enlarged image:
 
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Trailspotter

Senior Member.
In the helmet reflection, the height of the figure is more than twice longer than the shadow it casts, whereas the shadow of the astronaut hand is about the same distance from his feet as the hand's height above the ground. Therefore, the image in the reflection is apparently compressed horizontally. If stretched back to approximately the same height to the shadow length ratio, the figure looks like wearing a space suit:
Astronaut reflection.jpg
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
People don't realize how much perspective there is there even with the image of Schmitt. Since it looks far away you think it would be like this:

20171121-122044-h89rf.jpg


Bit the camera is actually very close, so it's more like this:

20171121-122140-16mj2.jpg

That's the exact same model, just different camera position.
 

Trailspotter

Senior Member.
I did a rough mock-up yesterday with a bulky backpack, a puffy jacket, and a reflective sphere.
I think that, in the area around the figure image, the visor surface is closer to that of a cylinder than a sphere, resulting in horizontal compression (see my post above).
 

Keith Beachy

Senior Member
The original jpeg, at flickr. The hi res one above is not the highest res, but another jpg with unknown compression.
Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/projectapolloarchive/21491626800/sizes/l

Not news to most, jpeg is a lossy copy. What was the compression for the tiff file to jpeg, who knows. A "zero (aka min)" jpeg compression copy could be 37 megs or so, the highest res on Flickr is 7 megs or so, and above "hi res" was 2.2 megs. The original tiff scan, in 16 bits, would be prefered. I have found original scans in tiff, have not found this one. Other apollo photos involved in moon landing denial, usually used jpeg files, not original tiff files. Original tiff files are on the order of 180 megs.

In this case there are not many pixels in the reflection of the astronaut and his shadow to make any claim. I doubt there is extensive geometric photo interpretation associated with the claim based on a jpeg from moon landing deniers.

Other Apollo 17 photos - https://www.flickr.com/photos/projectapolloarchive/albums/with/72157656717652893

I could not find the magazine with this photo in the collection here -
http://tothemoon.ser.asu.edu/gallery/apollo/AS17_Hasselblad (70 mm)/list
original tiffs for other photos are here, I could not find this one.


The Sun is out for a shadow test today in the Sierra's, at least near Grass Valley.

NASA was down earlier today. Back up now.

oops, you found a png file, which appears to be the best copy of the original tiff, if there is an original tiff - The png above is about the same size a minimum compression jpeg could be.
 

Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
Also, his upper body must be slightly twisted towards the visor - the camera is firmly mounted to the chest plate, so the only way to frame the photo is to turn your body.

There's a debunk by Phil Plait (the Bad Astronomer) here: http://www.syfy.com/syfywire/no-thats-not-a-stagehand-in-an-apollo-astronaut-photo

It's also worth comparing to other Apollo photos that show the photographer in the visor. You can't usually see the PLSS backpack, simply because in order to take a photo of the other person, the photographer has to be facing almost directly towards them!

AS12-49-7278:

upload_2017-11-21_21-14-49.png

AS17-134-20380:
upload_2017-11-21_21-21-4.png

AS17-134-20387:
upload_2017-11-21_21-22-14.png
 

FlightMuj

Active Member
Man he really has a high tail pony! Or is it a VHF antenna? Or was wearing a long thing on the head fashion of 70's?
20171121-142942-iayp9.jpg

Edit:
That long thing is very thin, almost as thin as a antenna or something...View attachment 30281
 
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Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
That long thing is very thin, almost as thin as a antenna or something...
I had noticed that too. I'd be surprised if the antenna itself would show up from that distance, but it could well be a bright reflection caused by the sun striking the antenna. Similar specular reflections are seen in several of the 16mm movie films taken on the moon, giving rise to various conspiracy theories about "wires" supporting actors to give the impression of reduced gravity!

Edit: or, as @cloudspotter says below, it could well just be a lighter area in the background.
 
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Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
For comparison, here is a photo by Cernan, showing Schmitt. The antenna is just visible, but you can't see much of the backpack. You can also see just how dirty the trousers of his suit were. This photo was taken at the same location as the image in the OP (Station 6 of EVA-3). Image below is cropped from AS17-146-22293.

upload_2017-11-22_12-24-18.png


Comparing them side by side (with a flipped and slightly horizontally stretched version of the reflection from the OP, to counteract some of the distortion), it seems pretty hard to argue that these aren't the same people:

apollo17.png


(NB in the above photo, the camera looks different, because Schmitt is using the 500mm telephoto lens to take photos of the lunar module, which is about two miles away from the boulder. One of the photos he took at around this time is AS17-139-21204, shown below)

 
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FlightMuj

Active Member
For comparison, here is a photo by Cernan, showing Schmitt. The antenna is just visible, but you can't see much of the backpack. You can also see just how dirty the trousers of his suit were. This photo was taken at the same location as the image in the OP (Station 6 of EVA-3). Image below is cropped from AS17-146-22293.

View attachment 30296


Comparing them side by side (with a flipped and slightly horizontally stretched version of the reflection from the OP, to counteract some of the distortion), it seems pretty hard to argue that these aren't the same people:

View attachment 30297
...
This laterally inverted comparison is great!
 

Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
Just a note on times. The photo in the OP was taken at mission time 165:17:01. The photo of Schmitt I used above was taken at 165:49:31, a little over half an hour later, once Schmitt had swapped to the 500mm lens (and a different magazine of film).
 
I was looking at the reflected image of Jack (and let's be clear, it is Jack) and a couple of things struck me.

[moderator note: "Jack" is Harrison Schmitt's nickname]

Firstly the front of his suit, and secondly the unusual patterning at the bottom of the left leg of the suit.

Sadly there aren't any good still photos of Jack from this period of the EVA, but the whole thing was broadcast on TV and that is available. The screenshots here are from the magnificent apollo17.org.

Firstly, the suit front. As can be seem from the shadow, the sun is coming from an angle slightly behind Jack's left shoulder, and the back of his helmet and arm are lit by the sun. The suit front is in shadow, apart from one area - a brightly lit stripe down the front. What could be causing this? Here's a similarly lit shot of Jack from the TV footage:



The brightly lit area is the camera, standing proud enough of the suit to be lit by the sun. YOu can see how much it stands proud, and possibly why the exact shape of the camera is obscured in this screenshot taken shortly after the still photo was taken:



Jack has a large piece of sqaare material, either a checklist or some sample bags, flapping around by the camera. You can also see how far out the camera projects from the chest, easily allowing it to be sunlit while the rest of the chest area is in shadow.

Next: the suit leg. In the reflected image most of the suits legs are dark, a combination of being in shadow and covered in grubby moon dust. Apart from one bit - an area much brighter in the lower portion of the Jack's left leg. If you look at Jack's suit he has a large pocket in just that area, and you can see many shots in the TV footage where that pocket is more brightly lit that the rest of the suit leg, and also apparently less dust covered. For example this one, taken about 20 minutes after the still image:



So as far as it is possible to tell the details in the reflected image are entirely consistent with the TV footage, right down to the fact that there was no-one else around apart from Jack & Gene, as can be seen in this image, taken just a few moments after the still as Jack emerges from behind the rock they have been photographing.



For what it's worth, you can see that Jack does not have the helmet visor raised at this point, and the bit in the reflection that appears to be that is (I believe) just a coincidentally placed rock behind him.
 
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