# Solved: "Alien" with "shadow" on the Moon [Debris in Camera]

#### Mick West

Staff member
On Google Moon at 27°34'26.35" -19°36'4.75"

UPDATE: Thanks to @Trailblazer, who discovered this is just some debris on the lens (or inside the camera) which appears at regular intervals on the series of images that Google Moon uses.

And comparing the same locations on two sequential original photos reveals both this bit of dirt, and another one over to the right:
http://wms.lroc.asu.edu/apollo/view?image_name=AS15-M-1151&popup=true

There are lots of other bits of dirt, like this giant jellyfish.

Nasa was aware of the blemishes. They were analysed by Arizona State University when the film was digitally scanned.

This video shows the "jellyfish" bit of dirt moving across the frame. It almost gives the illusion that it's moving across the Moon.

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#### Soulfly

##### Banned
Banned
Is it possible to determine the height of this "Alien" from the length of the "shadow"?

#### deirdre

##### Senior Member.
I'm confused. I see the shadow, obviously, but I don't see the alien. ?

#### Mick West

Staff member
Is it possible to determine the height of this "Alien" from the length of the "shadow"?

The entire thing is around 300m long (about 1000ft).

Nearby thing jutting out:

0.16*300m = 48m, around 150 feet.

#### Mick West

Staff member
I'm confused. I see the shadow, obviously, but I don't see the alien. ?

The suggestion is the bottom half is the alien, the top half is the shadow.

#### Jason

##### Senior Member
At on the moon 27°34'26.35" -19°36'4.75"

Zooming in there's a sharp discontinuity cutting though the shape.

This makes me think it's an artifact from two images being stitched together, images that were taken at different times.

It's also possible that the pixels near the join were stretched a little.
Is the "alien" or artifact still there, or was this a precise time reference? If it were an artifact from 2 images shouldn't they line up. Could it be as simple as the surface getting disturbed by a meteorite hitting the surface or rolling acros the surface?

#### Soulfly

##### Banned
Banned
You would think a 150 foot tall Alien would be clearly seen.

#### deirdre

##### Senior Member.
You would think a 150 foot tall Alien would be clearly seen.
I still cant see an alien, even on the bottom half.

#### Soulfly

##### Banned
Banned
I still cant see an alien, even on the bottom half.
Cause there isn't one.

#### WeedWhacker

##### Senior Member
It's not in the LRO images so it must have ambled off.

Probably has its own personal anti-grav backpack.

#### FreiZeitGeist

##### Senior Member.
Take a look at the crators and wich parts of them are dark and wich are ligthened.

Light comes from the buttom of the image, so the buttom part of the "alien" cant be the shadow of it.

#### FreiZeitGeist

##### Senior Member.
The suggestion is the bottom half is the alien, the top half is the shadow.

Oooops! My suggestion at first sight was completly different. Moon has no atmosphere, so there is no refraction wich could make the shadow wider than the object making the shadow. For me, it's obvios that that the upper part must be the"alien" and the buttom could be a shadow. And this just doesnt fit to pictures from am emviroment with no air causing refraction.

#### WeedWhacker

##### Senior Member
For me, it's obvios that that the upper part must be the"alien" and the buttom could be a shadow.

To my eye (and looking at the direction the craters....concave depressions....are shadowed)....also keeping in mind this is an almost straight-down view of the Lunar surface....

....the "alien" would thus be seen standing erect (unless it was sunbathing!) and the shadow would fall approximately in line with the other shadows. In that OP image, the light source (Sun) would be oriented at the bottom of the picture....this I base on the crater shadows.

It's fairly low in resolution, and should be noted that would have been taken from quite a very high altitude above the surface...IOW, those distinct craters are many, many meters in diameter from that distance. As compared to a few meters or less. This is a common conceptual problem with Lunar imagery...there are no familiar and fixed "size references" available (unless a scale of distance is added to the pic).

#### GregMc

##### Senior Member.
You would think a 150 foot tall Alien would be clearly seen.

"After millennia of battle the surviving G'Gugvuntt and Vl'hurg realised what had actually happened, and joined forces to attack the Milky Way in retaliation. They crossed vast reaches of space in a journey lasting thousands of years before reaching their target where they attacked the first planet they encountered, Earth. Due to a terrible miscalculation of scale the entire battle fleet was swallowed by a small dog. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy states that this sort of thing happens all the time."

#### Trailblazer

##### Moderator
Staff member
This makes me think it's an artifact from two images being stitched together, images that were taken at different times.

It's also possible that the pixels near the join were stretched a little.

The moon is something of a pet subject of mine, so I can give chapter and verse on this one.

Google Moon images are taken from a number of sources, most of which are old analogue photographs.

This particular frame is from the mapping camera on Apollo 15, back in 1971. This camera was part of the Scientific Instrument Module mounted on the Service Module which remained in orbit around the moon while the Lunar Module landed on the moon. http://www.lpi.usra.edu/lunar/missions/apollo/apollo_15/experiments/

The mapping camera took around 2000 images of the lunar surface, and every single one of them (as far as I can see) features this object in the same area of the frame. It is a piece of debris (hair/fluff) in the optics of the camera, likely held close to the film plane as it is fairly sharp and appears to cast a shadow.

Here is an animated GIF of just four of those frames showing the "object" appearing in different places on the moon.

The exact frame used on Google Moon appears to be this one, captured from an altitude of 100.89km above the surface: http://wms.lroc.asu.edu/apollo/view?image_name=AS15-M-1151&popup=true

You can zoom in on the image and see the bit of fluff. This screenshot shows you the area to zoom in on (blue square). Note that the image in the OP is rotated through 90 degrees.

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#### Mick West

Staff member
It is a piece of debris (hair/fluff) in the optics of the camera, likely held close to the film plane as it is fairly sharp and appears to cast a shadow.

Excellent, thank you! I've updated the OP. There's also another bit of dirt on the shot. Probably there are many.

Edit: like:

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#### Trailblazer

##### Moderator
Staff member
Yes, there is all manner of fluff and dirt all over those images.

If you look just above the centre of the image, roughly a third of the way from the top, there's a giant "jellyfish"!

And, strictly, the dirt probably wasn't on the lens but in the innards of the camera. If it was on the lens itself then it wouldn't cast a sharp image on the film.

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#### WeedWhacker

##### Senior Member
And I see that "pareidolia" is included in the tags, in the OP. Spot on!

#### WeedWhacker

##### Senior Member
If it was on the lens itself then it wouldn't cast a sharp image on the film.

Yes, I had that experience with my very old (circa 1974) Minolta SRT-101 film camera. It eventually got a bit dirty inside, and needed to be professionally cleaned. Debris on the mirror, or other places (depending on the exact design of the camera) can be defined sharply on the film emulsion when exposed.

#### Mick West

Staff member
Yes, there is all manner of fluff and dirt all over those images.

If you look just above the centre of the image, roughly a third of the way from the top, there's a giant "jellyfish"!

By the way I just edited an error in the bit of my post that you quoted. I meant to write "close to the plane of the film". And, strictly, the dirt probably wasn't on the lens but in the innards of the camera. If it was on the lens itself then it wouldn't cast a sharp image on the film.

And on the next frame.

I wonder if this might actually be dirt on the scanner, on Earth? Not part of the original image at all?

#### WeedWhacker

##### Senior Member
I wonder if this might actually be dirt on the scanner, on Earth? Not part of the original image at all?

And yes, this also must be considered, because there are certainly many instances of this, during that era (pre-digital photography technology).

#### Trailblazer

##### Moderator
Staff member
And on the next frame.
I wonder if this might actually be dirt on the scanner, on Earth? Not part of the original image at all?
It is possible. I have seen it discussed on other forums and the consensus was that it was in the camera. You would think that if it was on the scanner it wouldn't appear on every single frame in the same place, for over 2,000 frames, but I suppose it can't be ruled out.

#### Mick West

Staff member
It is possible. I have seen it discussed on other forums and the consensus was that it was in the camera. You would think that if it was on the scanner it wouldn't appear on every single frame in the same place, for over 2,000 frames, but I suppose it can't be ruled out.

True, unless they scanned all the film at the same time on an automated scanner.

#### Jason

##### Senior Member
The mapping camera took around 2000 images of the lunar surface, and every single one of them (as far as I can see) features this object in the same area of the frame. It is a piece of debris (hair/fluff) in the optics of the camera, likely held close to the film plane as it is fairly sharp and appears to cast a shadow.
It is possible. I have seen it discussed on other forums and the consensus was that it was in the camera. You would think that if it was on the scanner it wouldn't appear on every single frame in the same place, for over 2,000 frames, but I suppose it can't be ruled out.
Don't mean to sound like a layman here, but how does "dirt" get on the lens of an object in space? If it was dirt or something else, wouldn't or shouldn't we be able to see the same artificat in images taken immediately prior and after this image.

#### Soulfly

##### Banned
Banned
Don't mean to sound like a layman here, but how does "dirt" get on the lens of an object in space?
It floats onto it.

"BEEP BEEP Richie! They ALL float down here. When you're down here with us, you'll float too!"

#### Jason

##### Senior Member
It floats onto it.

"BEEP BEEP Richie! They ALL float down here. When you're down here with us, you'll float too!"
So it's floating dirt, and it doesn't "stay" on the lens it only bounces off the lens causing disruption only to a few photos?

#### Soulfly

##### Banned
Banned
So it's floating dirt, and it doesn't "stay" on the lens it only bounces off the lens causing disruption only to a few photos?
The mass of the satellite keeps it stuck to the lens? Static charge keeps it stuck?

#### Mick West

Staff member
So it's floating dirt, and it doesn't "stay" on the lens it only bounces off the lens causing disruption only to a few photos?

No. It's on all the photos in the same spot. So it's likely inside the camera (or possibly the scanner). It's very small - a microscopic speck of dust.

#### Jason

##### Senior Member
The mass of the satellite keeps it stuck to the lens? Static charge keeps it stuck?
So how do they "edit" the dust out of future photos, if the dust never leaves the satellite. Windshied wipers, anyone? Joking aside, what happens when the lens builds up too much dust and debri. Do they sit there editing photos all day long to take out the artifacts?

#### Soulfly

##### Banned
Banned
So how do they "edit" the dust out of future photos, if the dust never leaves the satellite. Windshied wipers, anyone? Joking aside, what happens when the lens builds up too much dust and debri. Do they sit there editing photos all day long to take out the artifacts?
Homeless Alien cleaned the screen for three-fidy.

#### Jason

##### Senior Member
No. It's on all the photos in the same spot. So it's likely inside the camera (or possibly the scanner). It's very small - a microscopic speck of dust.
I'd imagine there must be a great deal of "WTF" when images come back from a multimillion dollar camera in space with artifacts in the image because of a peice of dust or dirt from earth. Someone is probably out of a job!

#### Mick West

Staff member
So how do they "edit" the dust out of future photos, if the dust never leaves the satellite. Windshied wipers, anyone? Joking aside, what happens when the lens builds up too much dust and debri. Do they sit there editing photos all day long to take out the artifacts?

There's no dust gently floating around in space. More of a concern is micrometeorites. The dirt in the camera was likely there when it took off from Earth.

Staff member

#### Trailblazer

##### Moderator
Staff member
So how do they "edit" the dust out of future photos, if the dust never leaves the satellite. Windshied wipers, anyone? Joking aside, what happens when the lens builds up too much dust and debri. Do they sit there editing photos all day long to take out the artifacts?

The photos in question were taken from a camera on board Apollo 15, which was technically a satellite of the moon, but not what most people would think of as a satellite! The dirt, if it was in the camera, was presumably in the camera before it left Earth.

The dirt was never removed, as it appeared on every single one of the frames taken from that camera.

As for other satellites outside the atmosphere, I wouldn't expect dirt to gather on the lens. I do know that dust is a problem on the Mars rovers, as it can cover solar panels and reduce power.

#### WeedWhacker

##### Senior Member
The dirt in the camera was likely there when it took off from Earth.

Yes. But, perhaps not on the optics of the camera initially. (These would have been fastidiously cleaned).

During the launch there is a great deal of vibration. Any lapse of "clean-room" protocols could have allowed tiny dust particles into the camera, and then they could have dislodged from whatever crevice they were in during the vibration, then deposited on the optic elements of the camera.

#### Soulfly

##### Banned
Banned
There's no dust gently floating around in space. More of a concern is micrometeorites. The dirt in the camera was likely there when it took off from Earth.
It's not a micrometeorite until it lands on Earth. In space they are called micrometeoroids and are as small as dust particles.
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/micrometeoroid

On Earth as small as 50 microns.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micrometeorite

#### Mick West

Staff member
It was in the camera:

#### Mick West

Staff member
Interesting video:

(added to the end of the OP, looks like you can't play a video twice on a page).

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