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Thursday, 21 June, 2001, 08:52 GMT 09:52 UK
Moon shots 'faked'
Philippe Lheureux
Mr Lheureux says some Moon shots were faked
An amateur astronomer and photographer claims in a new book that some of the photos said to have been taken by US astronauts on the Moon were actually faked on Earth.

Frenchman Philippe Lheureux says in the book that to prevent rival countries from making use of scientific information contained in some of the genuine photos, Nasa released some fake ones.


In order not to give out scientific information they released photos taken during the training stages

Philippe Lheureux

Mr Lheureux, whose book is called Lumieres sur la Lune (Lights on the Moon), told France 2 television that Nasa took the fake pictures during training for the Apollo Moon flights.

"In order not to give out the real photos containing scientific information about the Moon which could be used, they released photos taken during the training stages.

"That satisfied the American taxpayer and that left no real possibility for the other countries to make scientific use of them," he said.

Dust

One of the photos shows a lunar landing craft's foot as completely dust-free, while Mr Lheureux says that according to astronaut Neil Armstrong, the landing threw up a lot of dust.

Reflection in Alan Bean's visor
The shadows do not look right in this photo, the author says

He adds that the lighting gives the game away in a photo of the second lunar landing, in which one astronaut is seen reflected in the helmet visor of his colleague Alan Bean.

"In this photo of Alan Bean, taken during the Apollo 12 mission, the astronaut is lit up on the side, while the person in the helmet visor seems to be lit up from the front," he says.

Mr Lheureux adds that a rock shown in a third picture, said to have been taken on Apollo 16's flight, is marked with a letter C, as if it were a prop.

"When one of the rocks is enlarged a letter C can be seen engraved on it, exactly like with some cinema props," he said.

moon rock
A lunar rock appears to bear the letter "C"

He says there are also discrepancies in a series of three photos of the same moonscape, showing a lunar exploration module (LEM), taken on the Apollo 15 flight.

"In the first picture, the LEM can be seen with a plain in front of it. In the second photo there is a crater and the LEM has disappeared, and in the third photo the LEM is back in place," he said.

The television said Nasa had admitted that about 20 pictures, of the thousands taken, did raise some questions.

But it added: "The American space agency says that on close examination they all have a scientific explanation".

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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See also:

13 Jun 00 | Sci/Tech
Lights glow on Moon
16 Jul 99 | The moon landing
The legacy of Project Apollo
20 Jul 99 | The moon landing
The race to the moon
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