Author Topic: Derek K Willis's "fender mystery"  (Read 1539 times)

Offline Rob48

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Derek K Willis's "fender mystery"
« on: August 13, 2019, 11:35:08 AM »
On Aulis, Derek K Willis describes what he claims to be inconsistencies in the broken fender on the Apollo 17 rover.

He says:
It is appropriate to conclude with two photographs of the exhibited makeshift fender, because they are in themselves a mystery. In the first photograph below AS17-137-20979, the details of the four spare laminated maps used to assemble the fender can be seen on the outside of the curved surface. However, in the second photograph the details of the map are on the inside of the curved surface. Perhaps the curators at the Smithsonian made a mistake and curved the maps the wrong way. It seems odd that no one took the trouble to correctly display such an important item that had been brought back from the Moon.

But as far as I can see (and apologies if this has already been addressed, I did search but didn't find anything about this specific point) there is no printing on the outside curved surface of the maps in situ on the rover. At first glance it looks as though there is, but if you look at a high-res copy of the photograph, it appears to be an illusion caused by patches of dust (and helped by the presence of a reseau cross on top of the map).

Full size link:

Comparing the pattern of the duct tape, you can clearly see that it is the same fender, albeit photographed from the opposite angle to the moon picture. Note the small overlap of tape sticking out near the middle, and the thin strip of tape over one end but not the other:

The National Air and Space Museum actually has four images of the fender, not just the one low-res picture Willis uses. One image clearly shows that the actual printed side of the maps has an obvious black grid-square pattern, which is notably absent from what he claims is the printed side in the moon photo:

It also shows a view that more closely matches the moon image, with the fender in the same orientation:

It's plain to see that the pattern of duct tape is identical. There is additional damage that was not present in the moon photo, however some of the damaged sections and marks can also be matched up:


You can even see the imprint of the clamp used to secure the fender, in exactly the right location.

Another piece of Aulis "evidence" bites the dust...

Offline AtomicDog

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Re: Derek K Willis's "fender mystery"
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2019, 12:55:16 PM »
I noticed the tape overlap in the images Willis produced, but your examination of the high resolution photos clinches the fender's authenticity.
"There is no belief, however foolish, that will not gather its faithful adherents who will defend it to the death." - Isaac Asimov

Offline bknight

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Re: Derek K Willis's "fender mystery"
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2019, 03:19:55 PM »
He attempts to make something out of thin/missing air.  He does little to no research, which I have concluded and accused him.
Truth needs no defense.  Nobody can take those footsteps I made on the surface of the moon away from me.
Eugene Cernan

Offline Obviousman

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Re: Derek K Willis's "fender mystery"
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2019, 05:07:14 PM »
Great work, Rob. The next "mystery" is whether Derek will admit his error publicly and retract the article. I am betting he won't, and I am even relatively sure of the excuse he is going to give.

Sadly, it isn't going to be "My dog at my retraction".
« Last Edit: August 13, 2019, 05:08:50 PM by Obviousman »