In 1958, James Van Allen discovered the existence of the Van Allen radiation belts. Conspiracy theorists, including flat-Earthers, use it to “prove” the Apollo Moon landings were faked and never happened. To dispel the hoax, James Van Allen himself wrote letters clarifying the false allegation.
“The recent Fox TV show, which I saw, is an ingenious & entertaining assemblage of nonsense. The claim that radiation exposure during the Apollo missions would have been fatal to the astronauts is only one example of such nonsense.”
Both the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belts and the statement that the radiation belts do not prevent space travel came from James Van Allen. Conspiracy theorists cannot merely quote one when it appears to support their belief and conveniently reject the other if it is against them. Continue reading “James Van Allen and the Van Allen Radiation Belts”
In 2014, scientists discovered an impenetrable barrier in the Van Allen radiation belts. It prevents dangerous ultrarelativistic electrons from getting too close to the Earth.
Some news outlets dubbed it “Star Trek style invisible shield.” Flat-Earthers were too excited reading the headlines and unable to understand the rest of the news. They used it to “prove” the mythical dome above Earth and that spaceflight is impossible. They are wrong. The barrier prevents dangerous ultrarelativistic electrons from reaching Earth. It does not stop us from going to space.
Continue reading ““Star Trek Style” Impenetrable Barrier”
In an interview, Donald Pettit —a NASA astronaut— mentioned that he’d go the moon, but they no longer have the technology to do that. All the technology from the Apollo mission has been destroyed, and it is a painful process to build it back again.
Flat-Earthers interpreted the statement rather too freely and took that as “proof” we never had the technology in the first place. In reality, the word “technology” is polyseme. It has two different related meanings. Flat-Earthers misinterpreted Don’s statement as one meaning, while Don’s intention was another.
Continue reading “The ‘Destroyed Technology’ to go to the Moon”
There are many space agencies from multiple countries. Some are from countries that are rivals or even enemies at some point in history. Even so, practically all their findings corroborate each other. Any made up claims or fabrications would have been noticeable and found very quickly.
Flat-Earthers accuse NASA of being part of the so-called globe Earth conspiracy, with the purpose of spreading “globe Earth propaganda” to the world population. However, there other space agencies, which are independent and employ thousands of staffs. And every one of them practically confirms NASA’s findings.
Continue reading “NASA and Other Space Agencies”
A frame of reference consists of an abstract coordinate system and the set of physical reference points that uniquely fix the coordinate system and standardize measurements. Speed or velocity is relative to a frame of reference. It is possible that two speeds/velocities are measured relative to a different frame of reference and thus cannot be directly compared.
Flat-Earthers would often compare two different speed measurements like an airplane moving at 900 km/h (560 mph) and Earth’s surface near the equator at 1674 km/h (1040 mph). They would conclude the airplane should not be able to catch up with Earth’s surface and would not be able to land if the Earth is rotating. They are wrong. The speeds are measured relative to the different frame of reference, and therefore, cannot be compared directly.
Continue reading “Frame of Reference”
NASA has published several pictures of the Earth that are composites. It means the pictures were the result of combining many images into a single picture. In most cases, the source pictures were taken from low-orbiting satellites to obtain higher resolution pictures of the Earth.
Flat-Earthers discovered the photos are composites and claimed to have exposed “yet another evidence” of wrongdoing. They would publish this “findings” everywhere to turn us emotional. They are wrong. Nobody is covering the fact the pictures are composites, and there is no intention to deceive. Information that the photos are composites can be readily found in NASA’s website, far before the claimed “discovery” by flat-Earthers.
Continue reading “Composite Photos of the Earth”
The first photo showing the entire Earth was taken in 1966 from the spacecraft Lunar Orbiter 1. Since then, there are too many photos showing the whole earth taken from various missions to space.
The advent of computers in the 80s introduced a new technique of generating such pictures. A satellite can be used to take many photos of the Earth from a low orbit, and computers can be used to assemble those pictures into a single photo of the Earth.
Flat-Earthers ‘discovered’ such technique, then they concluded that all pictures of the Earth taken from space are all composites, the results of manipulation or assembled by computers. They are wrong. Just because there were pictures created using such technique, it doesn’t mean there is no genuine picture showing the entire Earth, not composites, not stitched, and were taken from a single shot.
Continue reading “Real Photos of the Earth”
A satellite in a high enough orbit can remain operational for a very long time because in space there is practically no air resistance. This is a situation that never occurs in our everyday life. A car requires a constant consumption of fuel to keep running, but a satellite can remain in motion without consuming any fuel because there’s practically no force stopping it.
Flat-Earthers claim that satellites cannot stay up there for such a very long time because ‘we never refuel any satellites.’ They are wrong. In space, there is practically no drag, and satellites only need to consume fuel to adjust their speed periodically.
Continue reading “Orbital Station-Keeping”
Flat-Earthers reject the existence of satellites. They are wrong. To prove the existence satellites, we can attempt to take pictures of the ISS when an ISS transit happens, or the ISS passes in front of the Sun or the Moon.
Continue reading “Observing the ISS from ISS Transits”
Most combustion engines work with oxygen from Earth’s atmosphere as its oxidizing agent in the combustion process. But in the case of rockets, there’s no oxygen in space. It would have to bring the oxidizer in addition to its fuel or use monopropellant which doesn’t require an oxidizer.
Flat-Earthers claim rockets should not be able to work in space because there’s no oxygen in space. They are wrong. The lack of oxygen in space is merely an engineering problem which is not impossible to solve. Rockets are engineered to carry its oxidizer or utilize monopropellant which does not require an oxidizer.
Continue reading “Rockets and the Lack of Oxygen in Space”
Drag is a force acting opposite to the relative motion of an object moving with respect to a surrounding fluid. The higher the density of the fluid, the higher the magnitude of the drag.
Flat-Earthers claim that it is impossible for satellites to have such high speed. Usually, they would compare the speed of satellites to something like the SR-71 Blackbird, which holds the record as the fastest aircraft. They are wrong. At the altitude where satellites reside, the air density is several magnitudes smaller compared to near the surface, and thus, the drag experienced by satellites is also several magnitude smaller.
Continue reading “Drag”
The Apollo missions really happened and humans have actually visited the Moon. If someone fell victim to the flat-Earth conspiracy, then it would imply that they also fell victim to the Apollo moon landing conspiracy. But they are wrong.
Someone usually fell for the moon landing conspiracy theory because of emotional appeals and confirmation bias, but also because of their ignorance of the Apollo mission profile itself.
The following is a very brief description of the Apollo mission profile, numbered according to the numbers in the illustration.
Continue reading “Apollo Mission Profile”
If Earth’s gravity pulls everything towards the Earth, then how can satellites stay up there and are not falling towards the Earth?
The answer is that satellites orbit the Earth. They have the correct velocity with respect to Earth’s position and gravitational pull.
Continue reading “How Satellites Can Orbit and Stay Up There”
If a satellite has the orbit of 35786 km above Earth’s surface, the satellite will be in motion at the same speed as the Earth’s rotational rate. As a result, the satellite will appear practically motionless when observed from the surface. Many communication satellites reside in this orbit, and a satellite dish receiving signals from the satellite does not have to track the satellite.
Flat-Earthers often take the fact that satellites are in motion and most satellite dishes have a fixed direction as ‘proof’ the dishes cannot be pointing to satellites. They are wrong.
Continue reading “Geostationary Satellites”
On December 3, 2014, NASA published a video describing the Orion EFT-1 mission, narrated by a NASA scientist, Kelly Smith. The mission was the first unmanned flight of the Orion spacecraft.
Some unscrupulous flat-Earthers decided to turn the video into ‘evidence’ that NASA never went to the moon. They cut down the video to the ‘important’ parts and added in prejudicial narration and subtitles. There are countless of such videos on YouTube, and at some point, it was nearly impossible to search for anything educational about the Van Allen radiation belts on YouTube.
They are wrong. There are, in fact, two Van Allen radiation belts. Apollo traversed the outer belt that has lower radiation level in a hurry, while Orion was deliberately sent into the far more dangerous inner belt. They are named ‘belts’ precisely because they are like the real belts. It is possible to bypass the most dangerous parts of the belt, just like Apollo did.
Orion EFT-1 is not ‘evidence’ that the Apollo mission didn’t happen.
Continue reading “Orion EFT-1, Apollo and the Van Allen Radiation Belts”
A widespread misunderstanding within the flat-Earth victims is related to velocity/speed. They seem to think velocity is absolute, while in reality it is measured from a specific frame of reference. Example:
“If the Earth is in motion around the Sun at 30 km/s, and Apollo traveled at only 11 km/s, then how could Apollo astronauts possibly make it back to the Earth?”
We used to measure velocity/speed relative to the surface of the Earth. But it is not always like that.
Continue reading “Velocity is Measured From Specific Frame of Reference”
Van Allen Radiation Belt is a zone of radiation encircling the Earth. To flat-Earthers, Van Allen Radiation Belt is ‘evidence’ of the impossibility of space travel. To the rest of us, the Van Allen Radiation Belt is one of the challenges which is not impossible to overcome.
Continue reading “The Apollo Missions and Van Allen Radiation Belts”
If we walk by pushing our feet against the ground, birds fly by flapping their wings against the air, and fish swim by pushing their fins against water; then how can possibly a rocket move in a vacuum?
Rockets are able to move in space by making use of the law of nature described in the Newton’s laws of motion, and the law of conservation of momentum.
Continue reading “How Rocket Engines Work in A Vacuum”
“Why don’t we see satellites in photos taken from the ISS?” (or from space in general). That’s a recurring question within the flat-Earth community, usually asked without expecting an answer, assuming that an answer is impossible, and that it is a glaring oversight when the powers that be purposefully made the picture using CGI.
But no, the pictures are real. And satellites are not visible because they are too far spaced apart from each other.
Continue reading “Why Don’t We See Satellites in Photos Taken From The ISS?”
Rockets follow a curved trajectory when going into space because their objective is not only to reach space, but also to enter Earth orbit. In Earth orbit, rockets have enough speed to counter Earth’s gravity and do not require a lot of energy to stay up there. To enter Earth orbit, a rocket needs to attain a high enough horizontal speed.
Flat-Earthers claim the curved trajectory of any rocket launch tells us no rocket has ever reached space. They are wrong. The curved trajectory is a way for rockets to enter Earth orbit.
Continue reading “Curved Rocket Trajectory”