The Cold, Hard Evidence Moon Landing Conspiracies Are Whooey

It's been 50 years since NASA first put man on the Moon, but somehow whispers the entire thing was fake have only grown louder and louder.

Professor Trevor Ireland, a planetary scientist at the Australian National University, had his first run-in with a moon landing conspiracy theorist only a few days ago.

"And it really affronted me," he told 10 daily.

"Because I've sat with astronauts and talked to them about this stuff, and then this kid comes along and says 'hey, I don't believe it', and it's just really not fair."

Professor Trevor Ireland. Image: ANU

A number of surveys over the years have determined anywhere between 5 and 20 percent of Americans don't believe the official version of events when it comes to the Apollo missions to the Moon.

Conspiracy theories chop and change as time goes on, but essentially emanate from the central idea the US government -- desperate to beat the Russians in the space race -- staged the entire thing.

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Depending on who you're talking to, footage from US moon landings was filmed in a production studio in Area 51 or somewhere in the Hollywood Hills.

But astronauts didn't just bring back home videos from the Moon.

“There are 380 kg of Moon rocks," Ireland said, referring to the physical samples brought back the Earth for scientific analysis.

The 12 Apollo astronauts collected more than 2,000 samples from the Lunar surface over the course of their trips moon-side.

A large sample of moon rock contained in airtight tanks. Image: Getty
A lunar basalt rock is displayed at the Meteorite room of the Natural History Museum in Vienna. Image: Getty

As Ireland explains, lunar soil is nothing like that which is found on Earth and would be impossible to replicate.

"[They are] the result of eons of bombardment on the surface of the Moon. The rocks have compositions that are unique to the Moon," he said. 

“Any attempt to make Moon rocks in a laboratory would be a monumental failure and likely cost more money than it took NASA to get to the Moon and back."

Ireland also urges any attempt to retrieve nearly 400 kilograms of space rock via an unmanned mission would be practically impossible.

Apollo 11 Moon landing. Photo: Getty.

Analysis of the Apollo samples -- which are kept safe and sound at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas -- has lead to a completely new understanding of the Moon's origins.

As technology continues to advance, the lunar materials are still providing researchers with fresh insights.

“That six of the missions landed on the Moon, and brought samples back to Earth, is one of the greatest achievements in history. To this day, we continue to analyse the Apollo lunar rocks and they still have surprises for us," Ireland said.

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While Ireland was not among the team that analysed the first samples of moon rocks in 1969, several other ANU researchers were.

Professor Ross Taylor was the first geochemist to lay hands on the samples brought back by Apollo 11. His team revealed that the Moon had experienced a global melting event in its history.

The work of geophysicist Ted Ringwood and geologist John Lovering determined the Moon had a new set of minerals that are not found on Earth.

Ireland from the ANU Research School of Earth Sciences holds a vial containing Moon dust collected by Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong during his first walk on the Moon. Image: ANU

Ireland is proud of the Australian contribution ANU scientists have made to the study of the Moon, and feels conspiracy theories which suggest we never got up there to begin with are only a disservice to the public.

"I don't think its the scientists we worry about. I think it's this misinformation that gets out there for the public," he said.

"But it's not going to stop our science continuing on the surface of the moon and hopefully it's not going to stop NASA from trying to go back, or go to Mars."

While rocks are pretty solid evidence, moon landing conspiracy theories have been debunked time and time again by a range of experts.

In 2015, University of Oxford physicist David Robert Grimes, Ph.D., developed a mathematical model determining that if the U.S. moon landings were faked by the government, an estimated 411,000 people would have been in on the hoax.

According to his findings, at least one person would have leaked the conspiracy within three years and eight months.

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