Don’t Believe This: TOP 5 Crazy Space Myths

Where there is at least the slightest share of the inexplicable, conspiracy theorists appear, who seek out the slightest inconsistencies to confirm their erroneous ideas. Such ideas are harmful because they mislead many people, undermining the credibility of academic science. Despite the fact that science can also be wrong, nevertheless it has managed to expose many of the conspiracy theories. Aliens and UFOs, the green surface of Mars, the theory of the ether — this is just part of what is easily refuted by a couple of solid scientific facts.

But there are well-established conspiracy theories that many people continue to believe in, despite the fact  they have long been myths and repeatedly refuted by scientists and experts. We have compiled the TOP 5 most popular conspiracy theories about space, which for some reason continue to be believed.

Lunar Conspiracy

The Moon Conspiracy is one of the most popular conspiracy theories

Initiated by John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the Apollo lunar program achieved its goal of landing a man on the surface of the Moon by the end of the 60s. As the American president said: “We will do it not because it is easy, but because it is difficult”. Alas, Kennedy never managed to see how Neil Armstrong took a small step on the surface of the Moon, which turned out to be a huge leap for humanity. Nevertheless, the Apollo program was very successful — 12 astronauts visited the surface of our natural moon in the period from 1969 to 1972. All their landing sites were subsequently found by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and published photos that are iron proof of a man’s stay on the Moon. 

However, there are a huge number of people who believe that astronauts did not land on the Moon. This myth is called the “Lunar Conspiracy”. Its supporters are sure that the entire Apollo program was staged. Why are there no stars in the sky in the photos? Why are US flags flying on the surface? Why do you see traces of astronauts in the pictures, and not traces of landed lunar modules?

Edwin Aldrin on the Moon. In his helmet, you can see the reflection of Neil Armstrong. Source: NASA

The answers to these questions are simpler than you might think. There are no stars in the sky for the same reason that you don’t see stars during the day on Earth — the bright glow of daylight on the surface eclipses them, and insufficient exposure of photographic equipment also interfered. The flags of the United States, installed in the lunar soil, had metal rods sewn into them to create the impression of a flapping in the wind flag — in an airless and windless space, such a flag would simply not unfold. And the lunar modules, although heavier, did not leave noticeable traces on the surface, because their mass was distributed more evenly than the weight of astronauts in heavy boots. All the myths have been exposed for a long time, it’s just that people still don’t want to recognize the success of the Apollo mission as a fact. And this myth will live on for a very long time.

NASA — Fiction

A huge number of famous and successful NASA missions, from Mercury and Apollo to Voyager and Curiosity/Perseverance with a huge database of scientific data, do not seem to be proof for adherents of the myth that the aerospace administration supposedly does not exist. Some people seriously believe that the whole function of NASA is not to explore space, but to create space-related hoaxes in order to simply “legally” distribute an inflated budget among officials.

Drawing the NASA logo on the Electron rocket, which will be used to launch the CAPSTONE mission. Source: Rocket Lab

If you search Twitter for publications with the hashtag #NASAhoax, you can find numerous followers of this myth. They will prove to you that no rockets have ever flown into space, and amazing satellite images of Mars, Pluto and even the Earth are “photoshop” or beautiful computer graphics.

In fact, NASA was created in 1958 to study the problems of flights in the Earth’s atmosphere and beyond. The creation of the space agency was initiated by then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower. It was a response to the unexpected success of the Soviet Union in launching an artificial Earth satellite in 1957. NASA helped the United States enter the space race and even win it. Since then, the Aerospace Administration has launched thousands of satellites, and its spacecraft have visited every planet in the Solar System, some even plunged into the atmosphere or descended to the surface of alien worlds. NASA also sends astronauts into orbit, where they conduct useful research for humanity on the International Space Station (ISS).

Open the Google Maps app on your smartphone — your location is determined by the global positioning satellite system.  Without NASA, such a project could not exist in principle. The myth is destroyed. But millions of people continue to believe in it.

Flat Earth

This myth has proved so popular that there is even a group named after it: The Flat Earth Society. Members of the organization claim that the horizon is always at eye level, which, according to them, would be impossible if the Earth were round. They also say that there is no complete film about the Earth’s rotation from space — which is not true, since NASA has published several videos taken from satellites, including a live video of the Earth from the ISS, which orbits our planet 16 times a day.

One way to demonstrate to yourself that the Earth is round is to consider how the orbits of satellites work. Satellites are constantly “falling” around the Earth because they are attracted by the gravity of our planet; they just need to move fast enough at high altitude to avoid crashing into the atmosphere. Or you can look at the amazing photos of our planet taken by astronauts from the ISS.

The Ninth Planet

In case you forgot, Pluto is not a planet, so there are eight of them in our Solar System. Conspiracy theorists say that far beyond Neptune there is a hypothetical Ninth planet called Nibiru. It was first mentioned in the book “The 12th Planet” by Zachary Sitchin in 1976. In the book, the author translated the ancient Sumerian cuneiform and stated that the text is proof of the existence of a planet beyond Neptune, which orbits the Sun every 3,600 years.

The mythical Ninth planet of Nibiru

Years later, the self-proclaimed psychic Nancy Leader claimed to have communicated with aliens who told her that Nibiru would collide with Earth in 2003. When this did not happen, the time of the collision was postponed to December 2012 — the famous date of the end of the world. Of course, the end of the world did not come this time either.

Although the existence of the Ninth Planet has not been confirmed, astronomers are actively looking for it to explain the movement of some objects in the Kuiper ice belt — a vast area of icy objects beyond Neptune. According to Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology, even if such a planet is found, it will not pose any threat to us.

There is life on Mars

Due to the fact that NASA’s Perseverance and Curiosity rovers regularly photograph the Martian surface, their photo galleries can be seen by anyone on the Internet. But over the years, some strange shapes have started to appear on the surface of Mars. In 2008, for example, the Opportunity rover captured a rock that looks like a female figure. In other photographs, attentive eyewitnesses found animal-shaped figures, spoons or other objects. Then conspiracy theorists got involved — and it started: NASA began to be accused of hiding the truth about the existence of life on Mars, and intelligent.

The famous photo from Opportunity, in which the stone resembles a humanoid woman

However, in fact, all these strange objects in the pictures are playing a cruel joke on us because of the tendency of the human brain to perceive meaningful images in unfamiliar things or places — this is a phenomenon known to science as pareidolia.

As for life on Mars, if it was there in the past, nothing can survive there now, because the Red Planet is an extremely harsh place. Its surface was baked by radiation, the atmosphere consists mainly of carbon dioxide, and the atmospheric pressure is about the same as at an altitude of 50 km above the Earth’s surface.

Recall that earlier we talked about the TOP 5 most ambitious NASA space projects.

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