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Anomalous NASA/HSF archive version of Apollo 17 frame #AS17-146-22294 - evidence of colorization and compositing

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Anomalous NASA/HSF archive version of Apollo 17 frame #AS17-146-22294 - evidence of colorization and compositing

Post  Admin on Sun May 22, 2011 4:15 pm

LunaCognita wrote:Hello everyone,
Let's take a closer look at a very revealing version of a NASA archive photograph that was declared to have been originally shot back in December of 1972 during the Apollo 17 mission to Taurus Littrow. According to NASA, this particular frame of 70mm SO-368 color film was exposed by CDR Eugene Cernan on the lunar surface during his and LMP Harrison "Jack" Schmitt's third and final EVA. This photograph, shot through Cernan's chest-mounted Hasselblad 500-EL Data Camera (HDC) and cataloged by NASA as frame# AS17-146-22294, was taken at a Mission Elapsed Time of 165:49:30, while the astronauts were at Traverse Station Stop #6 at the base of the North Massif, right near a large split-boulder (split into five primary pieces) that was unofficially dubbed "Tracy's Rock" by the crew (named after Cernan's young daughter Tracy).

Now, in order to fully appreciate the craziness of what I am going to show you here, we will actually be looking a two different NASA archive versions of this same specific frame of 70mm film in order to conduct a simple comparative analysis between them. This first version of frame# AS17-146-22294 comes from NASA's Apollo Lunar Surface Journal online archive.

This above photograph shows Apollo 17 LMP Jack Schmitt standing near one of the split-boulders that comprise the feature they nicknamed "Tracy's Rock". In his hands, Schmitt is holding the third/backup Hasselblad HDC camera that had the 500mm telephoto lens attached to it. On the left side of the field-of-view we see the front half of the LRV (Lunar Roving Vehicle) nosing into the frame, with its two front wheels, GCTA-TV camera, map holder, plus Low and High-Gain Antennas visible. It is worth noting that, according to the official historical record, this particular photograph was not taken merely for aesthetic reasons by CDR Cernan, but rather this is what was known as a planned "locator" image.

During every Apollo lunar landing mission, one of the photographic tasks that the astronauts had to carry out any time they moved their TV camera to a new location was to shoot "locator" still imagery with the Hasselblad showing the new position of the TV camera on the lunar regolith. During the last three Apollo flights (the "J-Mission" extended-stay flights that made use of the LRV), the TV camera was, for the majority of the lunar surface ops, actually mounted to the forward section of the LRV as part of what was called the LCRU (Lunar Communications Relay Unit), so during every lunar surface EVA, upon arrival at each new traverse station stop, one of the two astronauts would always be tasked with walking several feet away from the LRV and taking a photograph showing the rover's position in relation to other features around that station stop site.

The official reason that these "locator" images were important was to aid in the post-flight photogrammetric analysis and scene interpretation of not only the field-of-view captured in the Hasselblad still imagery, but also the GCTA-TV footage (and any 16mm DAC film footage) that was shot at any of the traverse station stops being explored. The declared physical dimensions of the Apollo LRV were obviously well established prior to the missions, so at each station stop, the astronauts would be sure to take at least one photograph showing the LRV visible within the FOV, done in order to provide a reference frame with an object of known size in the scene. These "locator" images allow for more accurate photogrammetric triangulation techniques to be employed in order to build a more accurate 3D visualization map of each sample site.

So, back to the specific topic at hand here. The next image we will look at is another version of this same frame of film - frame # 22294 from Apollo 17. This second version of this frame is from NASA's HumanSpaceFlight (HSF) Apollo image archives. - (NASA/HSF thumbnail link for frame 22294) - (direct link to the HR image)

Side-By-Side Comparison of ALSJ and HSF archive versions of frame# AS17-146-22294

Firstly, you can see that this NASA/HSF archive version of frame 22294 (on the right) was clearly cataloged in that archive so that is being displayed backwards! That HSF version is being shown in this mirrored state (where right is left and left is right - east is west and west is east), displayed this way in not only the HTML thumbnail page, but also in both of the actual low and high-res versions of this frame that archive offers us. If you look at the version of frame 22294 shown above on the left (the ALSJ archive version), that example of this image is being shown in the correct state, giving us the proper official declared viewing perspective for that scene. There is no doubt that the NASA/HSF archive has somehow managed to catalog this particular frame in their archives so that it is being presented to the public in a completely inaccurate "mirrored" format.

I personally do not doubt for a second that this particular version of frame 22294 from Apollo 17 is being shown in this mirrored state in NASA's HSF archives on purpose. I believe this is an example not of obfuscation, but rather I think this is a deliberate attempt by someone involved with this NASA/HSF online catalog to try to highlight or call attention to a particularly revealing version of an image they have archived there by *accidentally* cataloging it incorrectly. I think someone was trying to tell us that we should give this particular HSF archive version of frame 22294 a very close examination, because the truth is there is something far more anomalous about this frame than just the fact that they are showing it mirrored in the NASA/HSF archives. They did not want to be too blatant about this clue they were dropping that would help to highlight this anomalous frame, so they instead do the only thing they can do to surreptitiously draw attention to it without being totally overt about it - they archive the frame in such a way that it is being incorrectly displayed!

You will find that this tactic of mirroring or flipping the image when it is archived in order to draw attention to it is used on more than one occasion throughout the various NASA archives, and I would suggest that anytime you see an image that you notice is incorrectly displayed in one of the NASA archives, do not just write it off as some random mistake or accident in digital cataloging and move on. Look very closely, because someone on the "inside" may deliberately catalog an anomalous image incorrectly on purpose in an attempt to get someone to notice it. I believe they certainly are "dripping the faucet" in this case!

The Powers That Be know that the vast majority of the public today are going to be totally unfamiliar with the declared layout of the individual station-stop scenery from the Apollo missions, so the average person stumbling across this mirrored version of Apollo frame 22294 while browsing in the NASA/HSF archives would look at it and probably never realize that it has been incorrectly archived and is in fact presenting in a mirrored state. I believe that the insider who was responsible for this incorrect archiving we see here was not incompetent. On the contrary, these kinds of leaking tactics are actually rather brilliant because they can subtlety draw attention to an anomalous image, while at the same time also go a long way to ensuring that the only people who will ever catch on to the clue would be those familiar enough with the Apollo 17 station stop scenery layouts to visually recognize when seeing the frame that it was mirrored. They do not want to be blatantly obvious about giving out clues like those in the HSF archive version of frame 22294, and while this might sound kind of crazy to some, they also typically do not want to just give away the kind of evidence we are going to look at here either. They want a researcher to demonstrate that they have done something to "earn" the clue they are giving us, and basically, they make us demonstrate that by having the clue be something that would only be noticed by investigators that had become familiar enough with the subject matter to notice the discrepancy and thus give the evidence a closer look.

So, aside from frame 22294 being archived in a mirrored state in the NASA/HSF catalog, what else is wrong with it? As it turns out, there is a LOT wrong with it. Let's take a closer look at the NASA/HSF version of frame # 22294 from Apollo 17 now. Here is the link to the high-res version straight from that NASA/HSF archive.

This HSF version of 22294 is 3000x3000 pixels, which is larger than the 2340x2350 "HR" version offered on the ALSJ site. Notice that this is a color photograph, declared to have been shot on NASA's version of Kodak "SO-368" 70mm color film. However, the visible color characteristics in this HSF archive version of 22294 are definitely bizarre, with the LRV's Mylar foil and brown fenders appearing somewhat dull or faded in comparison to the ALSJ version. Looking closer, we see there appears to be a clear shift in hue and saturation between certain parts of the HSF and ALSJ versions of this photo. If you take a quick look at both versions for comparative analysis, you will see that in the HSF version, LMP Schmitt's LEVA helmet visor actually appears to be reflecting a bluish color rather than the more golden color we see in the ALSJ version. In the ALSJ version, the astronaut's face can be seen through the clear visor, easily detectable by the skin tone, but in the HSF version, the face is covered by a bluish tinge reflection instead.

As another example of a comparison dealing with the color characteristics of these two versions of frame 22294, in the ALSJ archive version, if you look at astronaut Schmitt again, you can see that just above the waistline of his white A7L-B spacesuit, there is clearly a small, bright red object whose color is easily detectable. This small red object is a part of the Apollo spacesuit that was known as the “Red Apple” emergency purge activator for the spacesuit’s OPS pressure relief valve. If the astronaut accidentally got a small hole or tear in the spacesuit and began to lose suit pressure during one of the EVAs, he would immediately reach down and grab and pull the "Red Apple" in order to activate the emergency OPS (Oxygen Purge System). The OPS activation would instantly start flooding the spacesuit with O2 from the high-pressure emergency supply tank located in the top of the PLSS (Personal Life Support System) backpack, with the goal of the OPS being to hopefully overcome the suit leak rate and maintain a survivable internal suit pressure long enough to give the astronauts enough time to race back to the LM lifeboat and do an emergency rapid re-pressurization.
Just for visual reference, here is an archive image (cropped) of an Apollo A7L-B OPS "Red Apple" Relief Valve.

As you can see here below in this side-by-side comparison, the ALSJ version of 22294 lets us identify the "Red Apple" by color pretty easily. In the HSF version of the same image however (which has been mirror-corrected here to show it accurately), you see the “Red Apple” color data is totally, 100% absent. In fact, with the exception of his bizarre blue-tinged visor reflection, astronaut Jack Schmitt is, in the HSF archive version of 22294, actually being shown in GREYSCALE!

Now, if you look closely at the surrounding lurain in that original HSF version of frame 22294, you will see that the only real discernible color across the whole landscape is on the LRV and the astronaut’s visor. Compare it to the ALSJ version, and you can see the subtle surface color differences in the lurain between versions. In the HSF frame, everything other than the LRV and the astronaut’s visor looks very black and white, and that is because in that version, everything other than the LRV and the visor IS in black and white! Someone “forgot” to add the subtle color information to the lunar surface and sky layers in the HSF version before publicly releasing it. What you are seeing is a black and white surface landscape and sky with color composites of the LRV and astronaut visor added in - basically a blend of b&w and color composites - and they forgot to add a touch of hue and saturation to the lurain layers before releasing this HSF archive version to hide the fraud.

If you split the HSF version of frame# 22294 apart into it’s Hue, Saturation, and Lightness channels, you will see that the ONLY hue and saturation color data whatsoever in that frame is on the LRV and the astronaut’s visor. There is absolutely ZERO hue and saturation color data for ANY of the lurain or massifs in scene, and there is ZERO hue and saturation noise in the sky! Zip! Zilch! Nothing! Just look at the individual hue and sat channels for the HSF version below to see what I mean.

As you can see, the ONLY portions of frame with ANY color modeling data at all is the perfectly cropped rover and visor composites. EVERYTHING else is totally 100% colorless - without even a single +1 hue/saturation point ANYWHERE! Given the exposure characteristics of this frame, it should be simply impossible for a real full-color photograph to exhibit this effect we see here. If you take ANY color photo and split it into it’s HSL channels, there is always at least some subtle variances and color noise visible across the whole surface scene in the emulsion layer, even if the scene being photographed on the color film is naturally very black&white/grey-looking.

For comparison and to show how the hue and sat channels are supposed to look in a color photo such as this one, I took the ALSJ version of this same 22294 frame and channel-split it as well so you can see the results.
ALSJ archive version of 22294 - HUE Channel

ALSJ archive version of 22294 - SATURATION Channel

See how the whole scene in those ALSJ channel-splits shows very clearly the visible hue/saturation data (just like it is supposed to!). The HSF version however seems to demonstrate that this was originally a black&white landscape and they inserted the color composites of the LRV and the astronaut into frame. Because they “forgot” to add the touch of color data to the black and white lurain after they inserted the LRV however, that left us with perfectly cropped outlines of the rover and astronaut visor showing in the Hue and Saturation channels, with NO other color information at all in the scene - which is EXACTLY what you would expect to see if you inserted color composites of the LRV and visor into an otherwise black and white image!

I believe that this example helps demonstrate the colorizing composite games NASA played with their lunar surface imagery, and it shows the “greyscale then colorization” process they followed to establish total control of any color data in frame. The ALSJ version of frame 22294 was properly finished before archive release, showing the subtle hue and saturation additions to the lurain to colorize it, but the HSF archive version was a version of the frame that was "accidentally" released in an unfinished state, before the final colorization process was applied. The HSF archive version of 22294 is literally a black & white picture with selective colorization on the LRV and visor composites only, and they missed applying the relevant required red color data for the "Red Apple" OPS activator entirely as well! This all points to the obfuscation and manipulation of the color characteristics we are being shown in the Apollo lunar surface imagery.

So, now you know why someone took this particular version of 22294 and cataloged it in a mirrored state in the HSF archive for us. This mirroring error was done deliberately in order to try to help draw attention to this frame so that a closer look would let us see the completely colorless surface scene we are being presented with! Thankfully for us, the sanitizing procedure for the HSF archive version of 22294 was not properly finished before it was digitally released in their public archive, giving the game away by having the frame show itself as not an SO-368 color photograph (as it is supposed to be), but rather as a greyscale frame with color composites of known objects added in!

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Re: Anomalous NASA/HSF archive version of Apollo 17 frame #AS17-146-22294 - evidence of colorization and compositing

Post  Admin on Sun May 22, 2011 4:16 pm

Wow ! nice catch bro !

Here's the version on "Gateway to Astronaut photography" (Resized for the thread)

Full image -

Last edited by Neo352 on Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:48 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Re: Anomalous NASA/HSF archive version of Apollo 17 frame #AS17-146-22294 - evidence of colorization and compositing

Post  Admin on Sun May 22, 2011 4:17 pm

LunaCognita wrote:Thanks Neo. It is pretty darn ugly, isn't it? That HSF version is clearly showing us that all of the lunar surface scene and sky is in greyscale, with perfectly cropped color composites of the LRV and astronaut visor layered in. What we see there is just not supposed to happen in a real color photograph! :lobster:

Good work digging up the HR NASA "Gateway" archive frame too bro! Just to offer it as another example of how the hue and saturation channels are supposed to look in a color photograph, here below is a look at the channel-split from that Gateway archive version.

AS17-146-22294 - Hue & Saturation Channels - NASA "Gateway" archive

Now, compare what you see above with the Hue & Saturation channels from the anomalous NASA/HSF archive version of 22294 I highlighted in the OP and show again below (I show them here in their "same perspective as they were archived" format, which is why these two Hue and Saturation-channel examples from the HSF archive version below are mirrored in comparison to the correct Gateway/ALSJ versions).
AS17-146-22294 - Hue & Saturation Channels - NASA "HumanSpaceFlight" (HSF) archive

Also, going back to that "Gateway" archive version of 22294 you posted for a second, here is a crop from that frame with a contrast spike applied to highlight a horizontal line in the sky that is detectable under enhancement. You can see the line is "coincidentally" in perfect horizontal alignment with the very top of the large boulder. Me thinks they did a little bit of sky cropping here.

CROP from AS17-146-22294 - Raw & Contrast Enhanced - NASA "HumanSpaceFlight" (HSF) archive

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