Re: moon dust info - please help

Joel Duff (
Mon, 02 Nov 1998 20:35:57 -0800

At 01:29 PM 11/3/98 +1100, Jonathan Clarke wrote

Glenn R. Morton wrote:
This is one of the most frustrating arguments by YECs.  It shows that they
ignore history, are unable to do independent research and in general don't
test what they teach.  My encyclopedia Britannica says:

"The first soft landing on the Moon was made by Lunik 9 on February 3,
1966; this craft carried cameras which transmitted the first photographs
taken ont he surface of the Moon.  By this time, however, excellent
close-range photographs had been secured by the United States Ranger 7,8,
and 9, which crashed into the Moon in the second half of 1964 and the first
part of 1965;  and between 1966 and 1967 the series of five lunar orbitors
photographed almost the entire surface of the Moon from a low orbit in
search for suitable landing places.  The United States Surveyor 1
soft-landed on the Moon June 2, 1966, and this and following Surveyors
acquired much useful information aboutthe lunar surface." Technology,
History of, Encyclopedia Britannica 1982, vol 18 p. 53.

They knew that the moon was not made of dust before they sent the men up
there.  Why YECs distort history, I  don't know!
I heartily concur.  Prior to the Russian probe Luna 2  in 1959 very little was known about the lunar surface.  The best ground based optical telescopes had a resolution of 500 m.  Speculations about the surface raised from dust seas to hard rock, and included some exotic theories about "fairy castles".  Of course the most likely surface was some sort of soil or rubble cover and I believe there was some polarimetry and scatterometric data at both optical and radio wavelengths to support this.

The Ranger impact probes (Ranger 7-9) of 1964-65 resolved the lunar surface down to 40 cm showing small rocks and craters.  Their presence demonstrated that the lunar surface was not blanketed by thick dust blanket.  Rounding of the small craters suggested that the surface material was a loose soil.  These results were confirmed by the by the Russian landers Luna 9 and 13 of 1966 and the US Surveyor 1, 3, 5, 6 & 7 in 1966-68.  These landers demonstrated that the lunar surface was firm enough to support a landing spacecraft and resolved the soil-like surface at a scale of millimetres.  These results were widely published in magazines like Time Newsweek, National Geographic, and Life, as well as major newspapers and on radio and TV.  I remember them and even have some on file. So a great deal was known of the lunar surface properties by Apollo 11.

The persistence of this story of the lunar surface in the face of information easily refuted by the general public though almost any library points to it having descended to the level of urban myth.  Even some YECs have rejected it.  Tell a lie often enough and it will believed, even when the some of the perpetrators own up.


I totally agree but this guy in his response to me is saying that he sat in front of his TV watching the the first men land on the moon and says that the announcers were interviewing NASA engineers who talked about the moon dust problem and he says there was a real public perception that it was a serious problem at that time.   Before I accuse this guy of having a bad memory I need to hear someone say that there wasn't this public perception and that he must be remembering wrong.  I suspect this guy has been duped by YEC writing and just accepts this situation and thinks he remembers lots of talk during those days of a very specific moon dust concern and that those big pads were there specifically because they thought they might sink into the moon.   I still would like to hear some personal personal recollections.

Joel Duff