back to article NASA preps robots for future fake moon landings

Creeping slowly over the permafrost locked within the arid and isolated polar desert of the Haughton Crater, two robots survey the world around them. From a low resolution video feed at the NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, it's hard to distinguish the landscape surrounding the robots from the surface of Mars, or …


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  1. Slappy

    Not to be picky...

    But does GPS actually work on the moon?

    Wait, i does work in secret goverment movie studios!

  2. Brian Miller

    Wanted: Editors for The Register

    Wanted: The Register needs editors who don't drink like a fish. OK, editors that don't drink like a large mouth bass, just drink like a guppie would do. As the readers will note, the above article needed editing and the whoever does that at El Reg was far too sotted to notice that half the article had nothing to do with the purported subject. After all, who needs a blazingly good article about fake video of a plywood-and-paper-maché moon covering up the existence of intergalactic turtles muddled with science and technology invented by mere humans?

  3. joe

    small problem...

    thats awesome that the robots can use GPS to track their location down to the centimetre and not cover already mapped ground!

    theres one small problem with the practical application though - the fact that neither the moon or mars has a cluster of orbiting GPS satellites!!

    FFS NASA lol

  4. Geoff Mackenzie

    GPS on the moon

    No, of course it doesn't! GPS depends on satellites in orbit around the planet in question. There's no way it would work out there. We'd need to put something in orbit around the moon. What a crazy notion. What d'you think they'd call it, an 'orbiter'? :)

    There'd be no way to get it out there without breaking the crystal sphere anyway.

  5. Steven Pepperell

    The bit at the end

    sounds rather alot like discworld, I take it El Reg are fans

  6. Simon

    We like the moooon

    Who cares about the GPS, "NASA preps robots for future fake moon landings" is the best headline evarrr.

  7. Peter Clarke

    The robots run on regular off-the-shelf laptop batteries.

    I hope NASA didn't get a bargain offer from Sony

  8. Azrafael

    On a lighter note.

    We're whalers on the moon.

    We carry a harpoon.

    But there ain't no whales So we tell tall tales And sing our whaling tune!

  9. Hate2Register

    You silly man. Drop your pen.

    Even if Terry Pratchett's Discworld didn't beat you to the (not very advanced) world-on-a-turtle creation, you have now entered the realm of mixing fact with fantasy. "Insanity" might be an adequate description of the Vulture's desparate ratings scrape. "Bottom-feeding" has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

    The only thing which could possible cap this sort of Muppet writing, would be a series of articles on Harry Potter.

    But I shall ignore you. It's not adult, clever or interesting, or rather, it's not you that's being adult, clever or interesting.

  10. Charlie

    Great article

    Say no more...

  11. Dave Barnhart

    Reg Gives Up on Reporting, Enters Fiction Market

    If the moon landings were fake, please explain how the laser reflector (installed on the lunar surface by Apollo 11) got there and allows students in universities all over the world to bounce lasers off it.

    and GPS?

    Perhaps I should move the Register to my folder of 'Fiction/Stories' bookmarks and stop relying upon it for news.

  12. Steven

    Missed the point.

    GPS works fine. They wouldn't be on the Moon or Mars would they...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's putting it mildly, 007

    "a NASA scientist tags along on their excursions with an emergency shut-off switch in case they are headed for trouble"

    Such as the edge of the sound stage, or the cloth backdrop, or one of those polystrene rocks that has a serial number on it. Children shed their skins six times faster than adults.

  14. Andy Barber

    New money

    Why use 'old money' terms like Feet & Acres? Surely the Reg could have converted the 'old money' terms into 19/20th century language. NASA have already destroyed two European devices because they have a basic non-understanding of Metric.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not go for real

    If you look at the budget of the most expensive movie ( Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - $300,000,000) of recent times, you would think that if you double or tripple that budget you could actually go to the moon!

    Really, unless radiation or aliens our stopping us, why the fuck can't we go?

  16. rhea modine


    Is the flag that they use in our national simulated landing made in china?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Edgar Mitchell

    Does Edgar Mitchell know the landing(s) were fake? He told me that he saw it all as he orbited around the moon waiting for the real cowboys to come back inside. No, he didn't see anything too strange, if you know what i'm sayin.

  18. Dillon Pyron

    Made in China?

    "Is the flag that they use in our national simulated landing made in china?"

    No. Those are MIL Spec fakes, made right here in the US of A by genuine illegal immigrants using textiles imported from Costa Rica.

  19. Ted Walther

    Great article, keep them coming!

    Next up, the real truth about the gasoline and nuclear energy industries war on the coal industry, via the Global Warming hoax.

  20. Peter Howardson

    A bad entry into the fiction market

    I hope the writer was just trying to be funny, because if not then they've made of fool of themselves by repeating the strangely popular story that all the moon landings were faked on Earth.

    i) There is no evidence that the landings were faked. You can find lots of "this proves it's a fake" claims online, but all that they prove is a lack of understanding of the circumstances on the moon and/or of physics.

    ii) There is evidence that the landings took place, particularly the artificial items on the moon - how did they get there? Also there's the scale of the alleged hoax - thousands of people were involved and not one of them has ever spoken up? How likely is that? On the videos, you can see dust moving under low gravity without is NASA supposed to have faked that over a large enough area in 1969? will do for a start for anyone who has been taken in by this story.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Very good ...

    A very good article. Well enough written to leave serious doubt in the reader's mind as to whether the writer thought he was writing satire or believes his own shite is true. I don't think an El Reg Hack would last very long if s/he were that weird in reality ... but again, well enough written to cast serious doubt even on El Reg's reputation.

  22. Marco

    Re: A bad entry into the fiction market

    I can't believe someone feels obliged to clear that up after reading the piece.

  23. Jenkins

    hollow moon theory, anyone?

    lolz @ Peter Howardson, Dave Barnhart and similar. Can we have an exposé about the hollow moon theory*, just for them? ...

    *condensed hollow moon theory - we didn't go there; some of us came from there, black people and cows (might not have been cows, I can't remember...) are the natives of Earth...would you believe there are denizens of a certain pub slightly north of Watford who actually believe this?

    Keep up the good work El Reg!

  24. Tom Maddox Silver badge

    I'm with stupid

    The Register should continue its usual tone--that's why most people read it. Can the editors, on the other hand, stop permitting posts by people who are obviously too stupid to use a computer? Or are there places in the world where "satire" does not exist in the dictionary?

  25. Aubry Thonon


    I'm doped-up to the gills with anti-flu drugs, and even *I* could spot the tongue-in-cheek humour of the article! Bit of a shame he stopped about 2/3 of the way through. As for the "turtles", the concept predates PTerry by quite a few centuries. ^_^

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Or are there places in the world where "satire" does not exist in the dictionary?" for one from what I see on the news most nights...

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Americans and idiots...

    Please stop posting.

    "But I shall ignore you." - Whoops.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    NASA can't do cheap.

    "off the shelf laptop batteries"

    I can just see this one. Somebody at NASA says they need to save some money by purchasing ready-made rechargable batteries rather than designing their own. NASA purchasing gets the hump as there's a chance that somebody might notice the huge discrepancy between previously ordered battery packs and wholsale Li-ion jobbies. The balance is restored when some bright spark finds an off-the-shelf product that appears, by it's price, to be constructed entirely of unobtainium, hen's teeth and rocking-horse shit in a diamond-studded, platinum casing. Laptop batteries!

    Just piss the money on the wall lads, don't go out of the way to disguise it.

    Not that I think that replacement Laptop batteries are overpriced or anything.....


  29. Dave

    The Date?

    Is it 1st April again already?

  30. WaveyDavey

    Two turtles ?

    Surely it's turtles all the way down ?

    I'll get me coat.

  31. Steve

    The GPS issue

    People who actually know the basics of how GPS works can easily figure out how an earth-orbiting GPS system can still allow receivers to work when on the moon (nearside only), but let's not let simple facts dull the entertainment provided by the next lot of would-be conspiracy theorists!

  32. Lee Staniforth

    "Turtles all the way down"

    Damn! WaveyDavey beat me to it!

    (Note, not an exact quote here)

    "So, what you're saying, right, is that it's a disc. Underneath that are 4 elephants. The 4 elephants stand on a turtle. What does the turtle stand on?"

    "Another turtle."

    "And what does that stand on?"

    "It's turtles all the way down."

  33. david wilson


    I'm no NASA engineer, but if I was testing *non-GPS* navigation systems on a terrestrial experimental device, I'd fit it with GPS so I could easily and cheaply compare where it thought it had been with where it actually had been.

  34. A. Merkin

    Intergalactic Turtle Poaching

    No wonder the Chinese are ramping up their space program; they're actually after those tasty turtles...

  35. Morely Dotes

    It's ROTM I tell you!

    The NASA boffins are following the robots around like good little doggies on a leash. The lot in that Watford pub can't be too far from wrong, only the alien overlords have landed on Earth, and their science probes are even now surveying a possible base camp location in Canada, with the connivance of some of America's finest Quislings. But take heart, perhaps NASA will bugger up the entire operation by confusing English and Metric measurements. Hmm, funny how the loss of two spacecraft was caused by using *English* measurements...

    And as for the anonymous coward who posted "Americans and idiots..." I should like to point out that the UK's space agency hasn't even managed to build an office nor a staff for itself yet, much less a lunar landing module, so just imagine me sticking two fingers up for you.

    All in good fun, go have a pint and remember the days when the whole world was cheering for Tom Hanks and crew on Apollo 13.

  36. Richard Catto

    Satire? What satire?

    The 1969 - 72 Moon landings were an obvious fake.

    The greatest tell is the fact that there were zero casualties.

  37. david wilson

    Whole world?

    >>"All in good fun, go have a pint and remember the days when the whole world was cheering for Tom Hanks and crew on Apollo 13."

    Over here, we don't really *do* cheering at movies.

  38. Richard

    Laptop Batteries.

    RE: I hope NASA didn't get a bargain offer from Sony

    Why not? There's not a lot of oxygen on the moon for the batteries to burn with.

    Does get quite hot in the "daytime" tho.

  39. Atilla the Hun (No relation)

    Nice to see..

    The traditional journalist's long, liquid lunch hasn't entirely died out.

  40. Zarniwoop

    When you are the moon

    "When you are the moon, there is a person people say is the sun. I saw the sun once, and he came past me, really fast. And it was an, it was called, the, an eclipse. And he came fast! But as he came past, I, I licked his back."

    [sticks out tongue]

    "And he doesn't know I licked his back! All in his yellow suit!... I'm the moon. "

    In other news, I have a shipment of humour here for Peter Howardson and Dave Barnhart. You may want to check out our other exciting products; satire, irony, parody and wit. ;-)

  41. Keller Drozdick

    RE: American's and Idiots

    Nice to see some note there's a difference between the two groups. Harder to find these days in some quarters....


  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Morely Dotes

    The UK space agency does have an office, it is in Leicester.

    Also, I hate to break it to you but Tom Hanks wasn't actually on Apollo 13, it was a film. Just imagine me rolling on the floor laughing, and spilling my pint ;-)

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the moon and the loonies

    Is Austin Modine a real person or is he a fake cardboard cut out used to prop up a dying publication? I have a real task for the register. Publish the physics of the Saturn 5 Apollo launch combination, terms of weight thrust generated and the resulting acceleration constants integrated over time to yield distance and velocity. Then explain the mass hallucination of the nearly 2 million people who watched the Appollo 11 launch live down in Florida, then go take a tour of the Kennedy space center and take a picture of yourself leaning on the back side of the Saturn five rocket they have down there, showing it's just a cardboard fake.

    The reason that they have not returned to the moon is that the shuttle is too heavy for a trans lunar burn. Do the math, you allegedly intelligent people. It would require a reaction mass of LOX LH2 about ten times what the third stage of Apollo used and a set of tanks delivered to orbit to contain it that would require at least two massive separate booster systems to get them up there and they would have to be assembled to the shuttle in space all the while boiling off fuel to keep them cool. Then, the shuttle was built to reenter at 17,000 miles per hour not 25,000,.the forces of deceleration would also increase with the square of the speed difference and the time required to decelerate would increase as a 1to1 function of that speed increase, Think maybe a little redesign might be in order?? would you like to write the check??

    The shuttle was built with relatively cheap reusable booster that could only achieve relatively low altitudes to keep the system costs down Going to the moon to stay would require an effort more like WW2

    And nuclear reactors in Space in near earth orbit pose a whole set of problems. Shielding mass, immense!! radiating surface for the cooling system the size of the pentagon!! danger of a melt down in orbit that would expose the earth to world wide radioactive showers unthinkably catastrophic, Yeah we built something the size and weight of a navy destroyerIt was expensive but after the design bugs were worked out ofliquid hydrogen fueled rocket motors it was not particularly technically challenging because th structure itself wasn't all that heavy and the G forces were all in one direction( the weight being mostly the two components of most energetic and volatile chemical fuel combination on earth). All that 5 thousand plus tons was needed to get a small part of it, Two or three tons, to escape the earths gravity That is the important ratio, It is the two most important wordsm in a space crafts engine designers life: SPECIFIC IMPULSE A nuclear reactor on the moon would first require several hundred tons of equipment, including an entire solar power electrical generating array to ice mine the moon for the cooling system and another couple of hundred tons for a solar powered smelting plant to manufacture the the underground pipes to radiate the heat to the surrounding rock, that is if and only if we could find the water and the right minerals. And what would we do on that lifeless ball of rock in the vacuum of space that would be worth that kind of effort that would dwarf the Manhattan project?? Are you getting the picture now??

    So when and why should we go to the moon?? Again the answer is obvious we only go to the moon as part of going to the Stars, to go to other Terra like or Terra-formable planets outside our solar system, For that we need a space ship building industry and it obviously should be located near the top of the gravity well, The why is obvious! Where else can you find the raw materials in place (hopefully) to construct a massive metal; monster that you can launch into interplanetary space so cheaply. Again, without some sort of warp drive it would take six years to go to the nearest star utilizing a nuclear powered particle accelerator as the thrust generating apparatus to provide both the power ant the specific impulse needed for a reaction engine, Without these things, the need for a construction site is not there. And the moon really has no other usable function that requires the presence of man on its surface

  44. Timothy Slade

    @the moon and the loonies/reasons to be on the moon

  45. War Monger

    Austin, you'd better hope

    that Buzz Aldrin doesn't read this. Videos of him kicking your @ss will soon be all over YouTube.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Satire? What satire?

    "The greatest tell is the fact that there were zero casualties."

    The families of Gus Grisson, Roger Chaffee and Ed White will be delighted to hear that, although they might wonder where the three of them have been for the past 40 years.

  47. Matthew Joyce

    Satire, revisited

    Goodair: "... Gus Grisson, Roger Chaffee and Ed White ..."

    Which part of "1969 - 72 Moon landings" were you unable to read? The three men in question died in 1967 firmly attached to this planet. If you must start whining at posts rather than discussing the article, please have the courtesy to read the posts rather than making them up. Especially such short posts.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    loonie tunes two

    The person who made the comment about zero casualties was off the mark. The Apollo One was part of the eighteen built launched and/or tested, the report generated by those casualties cause a massive thorough safety review of all Apollo systems. And still Apollo thirteen nearly killed its crew. A lot of Idiots I see posting to these forums have no idea how thoroughly a system controlled entirely by pilots with vast resources of engineering behind them and intensive feedback at each stage of the procedures exercises rigorous scrutiny over details. Joe public with no experience in the aviation world, has no idea of it's demanding and rigorous standards. Before commenters are allowed to post to forums like this they should be cross checked to see if they have ever held any type of DOD or FAA certificate, Otherwise we have the same thing as in the computer world; Garbage in equals garbage out.

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