Lunar landing conspiracy put to rest(?) with LIDAR
February 20th, 2018—
On July 20th, 1969 man first set foot on the moon with the Apollo 11 mission, or so they say. If it was faked, or so the theory goes, one would think that there were a few details that don’t quite add up. One such theory is that the hatch on the lunar module isn’t actually large enough to allow a fully-suited up astronaut to enter and exit the module.
Rather than make assumptions, astrophotographer and hacker “AstronomyLive” took matters into his own hands and used a homemade LIDAR unit to measure the hatch of Lunar Module #9 at the Kennedy Space Center, as well as an Apollo spacesuit.
The Arduino-powered device aims the laser, and transmits this information to a tablet that also provides a convenient user interface. This data was then arranged as a point cloud, proving that… You can take a guess, or watch the video below to see his conclusion!
I used the Garmin LIDAR-Lite V3 along with a couple of metal geared servo motors to build a simple pan/tilt scanner, which pairs via Bluetooth to an Android app I built using MIT App Inventor 2 to control and receive data from the Arduino. It’s simple but effective. Although every tutorial I read suggested I couldn’t safely pull the voltage off the board for the motors, but I found that the vin pin gave me no problems, as long as I used a 5V 1.5A linear voltage regulator between the pin and the motors. I supplied 9V using AA batteries to the power jack on the Arduino. In the future I may upgrade the scanner by adding a small camera to grab RGB data for each point as it samples, and ideally I would change the whole thing to use a stepper motor for continuous spinning and scanning to generate a denser cloud.