Bad news for moon landing conspiracy buffs, a last minute search has scientists in Western Australia dusting off several boxes of lost NASA tapes which recorded surface conditions on the Moon just after Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon for the first time on 21 July 1969.
Shortly after making his “One small step for man” speech, the American astronaut set up a package of scientific instruments including one containing a dust detector designed by an Australian physicist. The data collected was sent back to mission control on Earth and was recorded on magnetic tapes. In November 2006, 100 tapes, marked “NASA Manned Space Center” turned up after a search in a dusty basement of a physics lecture hall inside Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Western Australia. One of the old tapes has been sent to the American space agency to see whether it can be deciphered.
The data on the tapes are a daily record of the environmental conditions and changes taking place at the lunar site after the Eagle landed in the Sea of Tranquility. The most important data were collected long after the lunar module blasted off the surface later that day, leaving the still-running instrumentation behind. The information showed that scientific instruments could be affected by setting them up around landing or take-off spots. They also proved that NASA did go to the Moon.
Recorded on telemetry tapes the original data transmitted from the moon were recorded at three tracking stations – one in the U.S. and two in Australia at Honeysuckle Creek tracking station in the Australian Capital Territory and Parkes radio telescope in central-western New South Wales. The tapes were put into storage
For 25 years the tapes were stored in a closet-sized store room in a small marine science laboratory in the main physics building of Curtin University Of Technology. They were later moved into storage underneath the floor boards of a lecture hall where they have languished under the seats of countless physics students for years.
Searchers decided to go looking for the tapes after reading about mislaid television tapes that NASA is still looking for.