Facebook posts circulating around the world claim a NASA mission to test the effects of space radiation on astronauts is proof that human moon landings were a hoax. However, the tests aim to measure the radiation from longer trips into space Radiation tracking is just one of the goals of the unmanned mission. Conspiracy theories about the moon landing have been largely debunked.
“This NASA rocket is a test to see how much radiation they will experience to see if a human would survive leaving low Earth orbit,” read a Facebook post published on March 30. It was shared on a page with more than 90,000 followers on Aug.
“It’s basically proof that they lied and they’ve never gone to the moon.”
As NASA prepares to return humans to the moon, one of the biggest dangers future astronauts will face is space radiation, which can have lasting health effects.
The US space agency aims to develop a sustained human presence on the moon – where radiation levels are two to three times higher than on the International Space Station – with missions lasting several weeks, compared to just eight days for the 1969 moon landing.
The post features a photo of the Artemis-1 mission hoping to test the Space Launch System rocket — the world’s most powerful rocket — and the unbolted Orion capsule that sits atop it.
The mission’s scheduled launch in August was delayed after the rocket experienced technical failures.
A screenshot of the Facebook post containing the false claim, taken on September 12, 2022
Facebook posts around the world shared the same claim, from Australia to Sri Lanka, the United States and Canada.
However, the claim is wrong.
The alleged fake moon landing is one of the most popular conspiracy theories and claims that the images broadcast by NASA in July 1969 were shot in a Hollywood studio.
Over the years, a number of false claims have been circulated by those seeking to bolster the conspiracy that AFP has debunked here and here.
Professor Jack Burns, an astrophysicist at the University of Colorado Boulder, said the conspiracy was “pure nonsense.”
“We have a lot of evidence that 12 Apollo astronauts visited the moon and brought back lunar soil samples that are very different from those found on Earth,” he told AFP.
Long-term exposure to radiation
The Orion capsule will carry three dummies equipped with radiation sensors to record information for future manned missions.
A manikin wearing a full-body space suit will join two mannikin torsos known as “phantoms,” made of materials that mimic the bones, soft tissues and organs of women — who are typically more sensitive to space radiation than men, NASA says .
The agency said it aims to send the first woman and first person of color to the moon on future Artemis missions.
“For this particular mission, this would be the first time that the organ-specific dose is measured. This is thanks to the thousands of detectors inside the phantoms,” said Duke University Professor Paul Segars, who was involved in the Artemis-1 radiation experiment .
“It’s not possible with living people because you would need implanted detectors,” he told AFP.
The full body manikin will also be fitted with sensors to record acceleration and vibration throughout the mission.
Segars said NASA has long monitored astronauts’ radiation exposure. The agency has released documents showing how astronauts wore radiation detection systems on previous Apollo missions.
But astronauts on future missions will be exposed to higher doses than on previous voyages.
“With Artemis, astronauts will spend months or even years on the moon, so we need to understand the effects of long-term radiation exposure,” Burns said.
In addition, Artemis 1 aims not only to test the effects of space radiation on astronauts.
The main objectives of the mission are “to demonstrate the systems of Orion in a space environment and to ensure safe re-entry, descent, Splashdown, and recovery before the first flight with the crew on Artemis II,” NASA said.
The agency said the launch “will provide a foundation for human exploration of space and demonstrate our commitment and ability to bring humans back to the Moon and beyond.”