Note: the following is excerpted from
the upcoming book “Dark Mission – Book One: The Secret History of the
National Aeronautics and Space Administration” by Richard C. Hoagland
and Michael Bara. The book will be published by Feral House Books (www.feralhouse.com)
your head is not an artifact.”
Commander Riker, from the Star Trek the Next Generation episode
the way to Shorty crater, a black halo rimmed crater on the outskirts
of the light mantle material from the South Massif avalanche, Schmitt
and Cernan stopped to take some samples along the rim of a small crater.
The stop, which was supposed to last 20 minutes, was made to take a double
core sample, get a gravimeter reading, and take some 500 millimeter pans
of the general area. The station turned out to be a disaster, as the astronauts
had numerous equipment problems and Schmitt took a spectacular spill trying
to retrieve some sample bags. The crew later named the station “Ballet
Crater,” in honor of Schmitt’s fall, and the astronaut later attempted
a few ballet moves in his suit after being kidded that the Houston Ballet
Foundation had called to enquire about his services.
took nearly 37 minutes for the astronauts to complete their tasks at Ballet
Crater, and from there it was straight on to Shorty, which was a primary
stop for the EVA along with Nansen. Upon arrival at Shorty, the astronauts
took care of some housekeeping chores, and then got their first look at
Schmitt: Shorty is a crater, the size of which you know (about 100 meters
in diameter.) It's obviously darker rimmed, although the fragment population
for most of the blanket does not seem too different than the light mantle.
But inside...Whoo, whoo, whoo!
Cernan: Man, are you going to get a picture now.
Schmitt: Oh, yeah.
Parker: We can hardly wait.
description seemed to imply that while Shorty was relatively unspectacular
on the outside, the area inside the crater was at least very interesting.
Unfortunately, when the camera started up, it was pointed at the rover
and the distant South Massif. It stayed positioned there as Schmitt moved
away to take a panorama of the crater. Several minutes into this sequence,
Cernan oddly states “O-kaay! O-kaay.”
At this point, Schmitt begins to discuss something odd he noticed through
his visor. Raising his filter, he suddenly absorbed what he was seeing.
Schmitt: Wait a minute...
Schmitt: Where are the reflections? I've been fooled once. There is orange
Cernan: Well, don't move it until I see it.
Schmitt: (Very excited) It's all over!! Orange!!!
Cernan: Don't move it until I see it.
Schmitt: I stirred it up with my feet.
Cernan: (Excited, too) Hey, it is!! I can see it from here!
Schmitt: It's orange!
Cernan: Wait a minute, let me put my visor up. It's still orange!
Schmitt: Sure it is! Crazy!
Schmitt: I've got to dig a trench, Houston.
astronauts then begin to sample the orange soil, which was later found
to be highly oxidized, a discovery which had tremendous implications for
later colonization of the Moon. Extracting oxygen from the lunar surface
would make the idea of a permanent lunar base much more viable. After
the scooping and core samples were taken, Schmitt moves off to the side
to take numerous images of the interior of the crater. In some of these
images, strange objects can be seen which do not resemble the fractured,
volcanic rocks which would be expected at this site.
they look like large chunks of broken machinery. Shortly before leaving
for the next station, Schmitt stops and takes several high resolution
pans of the inside of Shorty crater and the area around it. Intrigued
by other images of mechanical looking debris and orange soil in the area,
we obtained early generation negatives of the pans, and subjected them
to processing and color enhancement.
doing so, it became clear that some of the debris in Shorty was unusual,
to say the least. Color enhancement showed that many of the “rocks” had
highly unusual spectral qualities, reflecting light more like crystals
or highly polished metallic boxes than a simple “rock garden” would suggest.
apparently metal cased or forged objects from the rim of Shorty Crater
shattered mechanical housing from the interior of Shorty Crater
( NASA Frame
we scanned the center of Shorty, we noticed a very large and strange looking
artifact that strongly resembled a pump mechanism or engine housing. Nicknamed
“the turkey” because of its odd resemblance that terrestrial creature,
this object appears to have a series of tubes and mechanical features
extending from a geometric, metallic case. There are even what appear
to be forged connectors or mounting points on the object.
was in studying this particular object more closely that Hoagland first
spotted an even more bizarre discovery, laying on the crater wall beyond
the “turkey.” His eye drifted, as it always did, to that which did not
belong in the picture. Even as he studied it, he couldn’t quite bring
himself to admit what it appeared to be.
human head. In a crater. On the moon.
Color enhanced version of “Data’s head” in
Red stripe is not an artifact of image processing
overcoming his initial shock, he swiftly surmised that it couldn’t possibly
be a human skull. After all, it was lying in a debris field from an impact
crater, which had tossed up all manner of junk and material from just
below the regolith of the valley floor. Something as fragile as a fossilized
bone could not possibly survive such an impact. Further, exposure to severe
solar and cosmic radiation would have long since reduced organic material
to a fine powder. No, this object had to be related to everything else
he was seeing in this frame, which was unmistakably of mechanical origin.
robot’s head then?
his mind grappled with even that incredible possibility, he kept coming
back to Schmitt and Cernan’s previous statements on what they were seeing
on this entire EVA. As Cernan put it, even though he was seeing it with
his own eyes, he still couldn’t quite bring himself to believe it. And
he had dubbed the entire valley “one mysterious looking place.” Had he
and Schmitt gazed into the abyss at Nansen, seen chunks of similar looking
mechanical debris, and then stashed the photos away for later breakdown?
Was Shorty simply another example of the kind of “unbelievable” things
they had seen all along on this second EVA?
frame color composite of “Data’s head”
enhancements showed that the “head” had a distinctive red stripe around
the area where the upper lip should be, a feature that clearly appeared
to be painted or anodized on the object. Composites of other frames
showed that the head had two eye-sockets, a forehead, brow ridges, a nose
with nostrils, twin cheek bones and the upper half of the jaw. The “lower
jaw” seemed to be missing. Still, it was an astonishing photographic find.
And the resemblance to another, even more familiar figure did not escape
was most striking about the C3-PO comparison – and most telling – was
the eyes. Like C3-PO, our robots' head had indented, stereoscopic,
lenses. Just like C3-PO.
looking at the context panoramas from which it was taken, Hoagland was
able to confirm that the head was approximately the same size as human
head, Which meant, among other things, that they could have brought it
transcripts for the Shorty EVA show that the astronauts were certainly
rushed at this station because of the time they had lost at Ballet crater.
It is possible that Schmitt and Cernan never saw the object in question,
or that they decided it would be too risky to try and retrieve. However,
they certainly had enough off-camera time to descend the crater and retrieve
it if they wanted to.
looking at these images, the authors are reminded of a Star Trek, the
Next Generation episode called “Time’s Arrow.” In it, the Enterprise is
summoned to 24th century Earth to an archeological dig below
San Francisco. In this dig, Captain Picard and Commander Data – an android
-- are shown a puzzling artifact. Mr. Data’s disassembled robotic head.
the course of the story, Data’s head, and the information contained in
his “positronic brain,” are crucial to unlocking the mystery of Earth’s
past. By tapping into the memory of this ancient and damaged artifact,
the crew of the Enterprise is able to stop human history from unraveling
and their very existence from being threatened.
this perhaps the great secret of Apollo 17? Was this the reason for Cernan’s
odd behavior at the NASA ceremony? Had he waited in vain for decades for
NASA to reveal the contents of “Data’s head?” Was he angry that he was
being asked to participate in another ruse on the American public, after
having already participated once, on Apollo 17, only to wait 31 years
for a chance to go back, and perhaps set the record straight?
it doesn’t matter if it was truly “Data’s head,” or some other mechanical
artifact that Cernan and Schmitt brought back from the Taurus-Littrow
valley. As we have seen over the preceding pages, there was plenty of
evidence that substantial areas in the vicinity of the lander were artificial,
but in ruins. Even ruins are going to leave some indications behind of
the majesty with which they once stood. Nothing stays buried forever.
even, perhaps, the knowledge that those who would serve us were once our