Saturday, February 21, 2009

Those glass domes on the Moon

If you aren't used to the insanities of Richard Hoagland and Mike Bara, prepare to gasp. Perhaps to boggle. Perhaps both.

Hoagland & Bara have alleged, many times and with apparently straight faces, that there are vast glass structures on the moon, built by a long-dead lunar civilization and visible in some Apollo lunar surface photography after "enhancement." In answer to the question why these things aren't visible in the best orbital photographs, they reply "Obviously since they are made of glass, they are invisible."

This allegation, and those who challenge it (that means anyone who has any training in lunar science, anyone who has any training in photo interpretation, and anyone who has any common sense) has become topical again recently because of the strong likelihood that lunar orbital photographs will soon be available at higher resolution than ever before. Hypothetically, Hoagland & Bara might be asked to indicate on these pictures where exactly these so-called structures are. So far they have been strangely reluctant to specify coordinates.

Since I'm writing this for readers who are new to this rather surprising proposition, let's start at square one.

The "evidence"
Richard Hoagland likes nothing more than to manipulate NASA photography in his Photoshop™ software and see what pops out at him, so that he can claim that NASA is hiding something from us. Playing this game with Apollo lunar orbital and surface photos, he cites several examples where he says extremely large glass domes are visible when the photographs are "enhanced." Here is one of his favorites. This is from Apollo 12, Mission Elapsed Time 116:57:52, on EVA-1, showing Al Bean beginning to deploy the ALSEP lunar surface science package. A timeline reference is at

For comparison, here is a high-resolution version of the original Hasselbald photograph, AS12-46-6807 from magazine 46Y, before Hoagland manipulated it. Notice a few things as you compare the two images:

* Hoagland's version is 450 x 340px, 29 kB. This compares with the 2359 x 2374px, 1.285 MB of the original. The original is, therefore, an inherently truer view.
* Don't be fooled, as Phil Plait was initially in scorning this photo, by the lens flare that happens to be superimposed on the astronaut. That's NOT what Hoagland's imagination tells him is a glass dome. No, he says that the stippled effect in the sky — black in the original, as it should be — is a reflection off the glass dome. In some versions of the manipulated photo the sky appears midnight blue.
* Note that the "stippled effect" also appears in the astronaut's shadow on the moon's surface, which was also black in the original , and also as it should be. What Hoagland did in "enhancing" this photograph was to inhibit black and progressively enhance tones trending toward white. It's done with the "curves" feature in Photoshop™, and what it essentially means is that every pixel that used to be black has been told it has to become something else because black ain't allowed. So, lacking guidance as to what that something else should be, the algorithm produces random effects. It goes almost without saying that this process goes way beyond what might be considered legitimate photo-processing.

Hoagland & Bara would say that we have been fooled by NASA's manipulation of AS12-46-6807 to artificially obscure the glass dome, and that he obtained a uniquely un-manipulated print from Ken Johnston. However, the grotesque appearance of the foreground subject plainly attests to the fact that the manipulation is theirs, not NASA's. Also, since they were working from a print rather than the archive negative, a scanning process of unknown quality must have been involved. Hoagland consistently refuses to divulge technical detail of his photo-processing steps.

A rather poorly translated survey of Hoagland's other "evidence" starts here.

Apollo astronauts speak out -- or mostly don't
Hoagland does not claim that these structures are present at all six of the Apollo landing sites, but he seems sure about the site of Apollo 14 as well as 12. So if these structures exist, it might be expected that at least astronauts Conrad, Bean, Shepard and Mitchell would be the guys to ask about it. Unfortunately for Hoagland & Bara, few of the astronauts have even heard of them, let alone paid the slightest attention to their crackpot theories. The exception is Ed Mitchell, LMP of Apollo 14, who agreed to listen to Hoagland's idea and comment on it, on the Coast to Coast AM radio show in May 1996. To nobody's surprise, Ed Mitchell flatly stated that he had no knowledge of any such structures, and he wanted to know how it was possible for his Lunar Module to have flown through a glass dome in order to land inside it.

Hoagland replied:

"I presume that it's got tremendous amounts of holes, and you safely came down through [a] pretty open structure."

He added:

"[M]aybe you didn't [know about them], but maybe the guys that sent you there and picked the landing sites did."

Now, that last statement is a real gob-smacker, as they say in England. He's saying that Apollo mission planners were aware of a monster hazard in the vicinity of the Apollo 14 landing site, AND DID NOT INFORM THE CREW.

Mitchell's final word on the theory: "Green cheese and baloney" (see also his reference to Hoagland's masturbatory habits, on the Swedish site cited earlier).

Hoagland later developed the theory that the Apollo astronauts have had their memories "selectively edited" so that they no longer remember seeing glass domes or other evidence of lunar civilization. He has never said how this was accomplished, or how he came by such knowledge. Not for the first time, he's come up with a theory so outlandish and so utterly devoid of supporting evidence that we have to wonder whether he himself actually believes it. Does he, or is he just playing games?

Better resolution photos coming shortly
Two people with acknowledged expertise in the Space business recently drew attention to this fact on the Dark Mission official blog. On 10th Feb 2009 James Oberg posted:

"I'm interested in going beyond the forty-year-old photos as shown -- I want to get the latitude/longitude of the claimed anomalies and then look up those locations on the Japanese, Chinese, Indian, and European Space Agency databases from their recent independent lunar orbital photoreconniassance missions. Just to compare. Might be illuminating, you think?

This task is frustrated by Mike's stated refusal to provide actual latitude/longitude locations of claimed structures."

Ten days later, Don Davis posted:

"The Apollo 'Panoramic' orbital cameras has a resolution of about 2 m, the 'metric' camera about 30m. the hand held photography probably somewhat worse in resolution then the Metric camera. Apollo only covered a limited part of the Moon, that which happened to be under it's designated orbits, and in sunlight.
A quick look at Lunar Orbiter spacecraft image resolution figures for mission 4, with which most nearside global mapping was done, ranges from 58-134 m although many Lunar Orbiter images show more detail, many less.

China’s Chang’e-1:
* Stereo camera with an optical resolution of 120 m

India’s Chandrayaan-1:
* Terrain Mapping Camera is a CCD camera with 5 m resolution

Japan's SELENE
*Terrain camera (TC) resolution 10 meters per pixel and 2 HDTV cameras

The upcoming LRO will see details down to a meter across. So anyone wanting to predict things on the Moon that they think they see at the limits of resolution of older photos should be overjoyed that opportunities are imminent to re-examine the areas in question with new and sharper detail."

Mike Bara's only response to this eminently reasonable and inherently scientific approach was this:

"Yeah, LRO, a mission run by NASA. Riiiiiiight.

I trust that about as much as I trust Lunar Orbiter data being "processed" by Jim Oberg and his pals."

I posted as follows, which Mike Bara refused to publish:

"Mike, since you say you see glass structures on the moon in NASA-supplied photography, albeit photoshopped beyond the point of being useful, why do you now mistrust NASA-supplied photography at better resolution? You'll be free, of course, to put your photoshop experts to work making all kinds of monsters appear.

Don Davis is right -- you should welcome this opportunity. C'mon, LET'S HAVE THE EXACT LOCATIONS OF YOUR GLASS STRUCTURES."

Summary & conclusion
Hoagland's presentation of the Apollo 12 Hasselblad frame is clearly fraudulent.

His explanation of why Ed Mitchell dismisses the theory has no credibility whatsoever.

Mike Bara's refusal to provide coordinates of the claimed structures after a very reasonable request further damages the credibility of the whole theory and shows it up as profoundly unscientific.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Imaginary Masonic rituals and fake star alignments

Yesterday something pretty funny arrived on the Dark Mission "official" blog. Under the title "Meet the New Boss... the Same as the Old Boss," Mike Bara constructed a fantasy of masonic ritual, woven around the second swearing-in ceremony in the Map Room of the White House, served up with an unmistakable whiff of racism. The analysis underlying this ridiculous nonsense was at the level of numerology. I had to comment:

I offer the following comments on your post "Meet the New Boss...", which attains new heights of absurdity as you stretch to breaking point in your attempt to find "ritual symbolism" in a small ceremony that was hastily arranged, and that absolutely nobody could possibly have predicted the need for until a few hours before its occurrence.

* You write of the "overwhelming Masonic overtones of this second swearing-in ceremony." Who are you alleging arranged these overwhelming overtones? President Obama himself? I don't think he's a freemason, is he? How about the First Lady? Not a mason, by definition. How about NASA? Think they arranged it, at a couple of hours notice? You might think about obvious facts like these before posting such drivel. "Masonic overtones" were not overwhelming, Mike. They were entirely absent.

* The hour of 7:30 pm is not known as 19:30 in Washington DC. It is not known as 19.5 by anybody on Earth -- with, I guess, the exception of conspiracy theorists with no understanding of science or mathematics.

* Isn't the "ritual significance" of the number 19.5 supposed to attach to angles, anyway, according to your baseless theories?

* There is nothing strange, still less "ritual", about an architect trained in London in the 18th century being a Freemason. It would be more strange to find such a person who was not.

* There is nothing strange, still less "ritual", about re-arrangement of rooms in the White House at the start of a new Administration. It happens every single time, Mike. Like clockwork. You write "what does it imply for our new President and what does this symbolism signal about his true loyalties?" The answer is -- movement of a portrait on the wall of the White House Map Room signals nothing at all.

* The ancient Egyptians would not have measured anything in feet or inches. Neither would modern Egyptians, come to that -- so your teasing out of the "ritual" figure 666 in relation to the Washington Monument is not only meaningless but dishonest as well.

* Your analysis of the positions of stars at the moment of the ceremony is, as usual, meaningless. Actually, even more laughable than your other star alignments, since you admit you were not able to find a significant 'hit.' I wonder why, in that case, you even raise the point. It simply makes you look idiotic.

I wish that you had spent your time addressing the factual objections James Oberg has expressed over your characterization of Ken Johnstone, which appears to be incorrect. Oberg has already pointed out that your description of three failed Mars missions is entirely in error. I have exposed your "Data's Head" image as a fraud, and found a fatal error in the mathematics of "Von Braun's secret." You have conceded that Neil Armstrong never likened himself to a parrot. You have admitted that you have no evidence to support your contention that Apollo astronauts brought alien technology back from the Moon. Farouk El-Baz himself has written on this blog that there were many managers of the Apollo program more senior than him. There's not a whole lot left, even for your ardent fans, to believe in. Why not just cancel the proposed second edition?

Naturally, Mike Bara blocked publication. He can't stand rational analysis.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Hoagland's GSFC identity badge

On Jan 31 Mike Bara posted this image of a temporary badge issued to Richard Hoagland by NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center some time in the 1970s. This was in support of Hoagland's claim that he once worked as a NASA contractor.

It certainly does seem to support that claim -- but I wondered about the authenticity of the company that the badge lists as the company that Hoagland represents: HOAGLAND CO. I requested more information in the following polite post:

Could we know a little more about the HOAGLAND CO. that the GSFC temporary badge declares that he represents?

Was it a public corporation? Where was it headquartered? Who were its principal officers? How many employees?

Thanks -- this is just to see if he actually was a contractor, or perhaps just a one-day visitor, admitted to give an invited talk to an employee interest group.

Mike Bara refused to answer. I find that suspicious.