Though the hoaxers claims usually disappear when held up to the light, there is one question that sticks in one's craw: what happened to the official videotapes of the Apollo 11 landing? To save space in the broadcast spectrum so they could transmit telemetry and other data, cameras on the lunar lander transmitted images in a special slow-scan format. That data was received by stations in Australia and the Mojave, formatted for television broadcast and sent to Houston. The images seen on television were fuzzy and indistinct. The actual slow-scan footage before conversion was crisp and full of detail.
But those priceless historical images weren’t put in a vault at the Smithsonian like they should have been. According to NASA records, the official video images of the moon landing were stored in 2,612 boxes at a government warehouse. Between 1975 and 1979, the Goddard Space Center requested all but two boxes of tapes and never returned them to the National Archives. Now, the 13,000 reels of data are nowhere to be found. In 2006, NASA began a dedicated agency-wide hunt, but to date, the images haven’t shown up. “Despite the challenges of the search,” a NASA release states, “NASA does not consider the tapes to be lost.” But the hoaxers and moon doubters do. And it’s unlikely their questions will be put to rest till we put another footprint on the moon.
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Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.