Conspiracy Theorists, Look at These Photos of Apollo Modules on the Moon

Left: a close-up image of the moon's surface showing shadows and craters. right: an astronaut in a spacesuit walking on the moon's rugged terrain, with the earth reflected in the visor.
The Apollo 11 lunar module is on the left, at its forever resting spot on the Moon. On the right is Buzz Aldrin during the Apollo 11 Moonwalk on July 20, 1969. The famous portrait was captured by fellow astronaut Neil Armstrong using a 70mm lunar surface camera.

Many conspiracy theories retain a foothold along the edges of society. Some of them are relatively innocent; others are downright dangerous. But few persist and propagate as effectively as conspiracies surrounding the Apollo 11 Moon landing.

Understandably, for the Apollo 11 astronauts who risked their lives to make history and set foot on the Moon, these conspiracy theorists who insist it was all faked are extremely frustrating.

Some conspiracy theories, even absurd ones, are difficult to disprove. How do you prove to someone who thinks aliens are pulling the strings in geopolitics that they aren’t? Good luck. However, the Moon landing has photographic evidence captured at different points over decades.

The Apollo 11 lunar module is on the Moon. People can see it, and people have, in fact, including those working on the India Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) Chandrayaan 2 orbiter in April 2021. The ISRO’s Chandrayaan 3 mission made history last August, by the way, and explored the Moon’s mysterious south pole.

Top: high-resolution photo of the apollo 11 lunar module on the Moon 's surface with distinct contrasts. bottom: detailed image of the apollo 12 lunar module surrounded by lunar soil and small craters.

The images the ISRO captured of the Apollo 11 and 12 lunar modules have been making the rounds again online, including earlier this week on Reddit. So no, they aren’t new photos. Still, they’re always interesting to look at.

It’s also interesting to see what people think of photographic evidence and how hardcore conspiracy theorists can wiggle their way out of accepting the obvious: Apollo 11 landed on the Moon, and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969, while Michael Collins performed the vital duty of commanding the Columbia module in lunar orbit.

There are photos from the event, there is video, and there is high-resolution, modern footage of the Apollo 11 landing site.

And yet, as Reddit user AtrumAequitas astutely notes, “If they think the Moon landing was faked, they’ll think this is fake.” Sigh. They’re sadly right.

As we close in on the 56th anniversary of the first person setting foot on the Moon, NASA’s incredible achievement, the culmination of a lifetime of work by talented, intelligent, and dedicated people, there are still those who question that it happened. Somehow.

There is no amount of reasoning and science that will fully convince the most ardent skeptics. No one photo will finally tip the scales toward the side of reason.

Nonetheless, the ISRO’s 2021 photos are always fun to look at because they show evidence of one of humanity’s most outstanding achievements. It isn’t quite “checkmate, conspiracy theorists” because they’re not playing chess — they’re playing “let’s bury our head in the sand.”

Image credits: India Space Research Organization, NASA