Space conspiracy theories are fairly ingrained within popular culture. Moonlanders (2016) is a film based on moon landing conspiracies, the Men in Black franchise is based on the conspiracy theory that the U.S government sends intimidating men in black suits to silence UFO witnesses, and of course the X-Files are concerned with unexplained phenomena, non-credible evidence of UFOs and pseudo-science theories.

A Google search reaps around 1,050,000 results when you search for "space conspiracies". The people who write these conspiracies believe that the truth about space events, alien sightings, and secret government operations are being hidden from us. So how credible are their findings?

I’m not convinced. Some of the most popular conspiracies about space seem fairly far-fetched. Possibly my favourite is a theory that emerged in 2012. There have been many angry and racist conspiracy theories about U.S President Barack Obama’s citizenship since the beginning of his Presidency in 2008, some insisting that he was born in Kenya, Indonesia or even the UK to render his Presidency void. However, the craziest theory surrounding Obama has to be that he travelled to Mars in his youth. Andrew D. Basiago and William Stillings, worryingly both U.S government employees, stated that Obama was a ‘chrononaut’ - or time-traveller- who, like them, travelled to Mars via teleportation back in the early ‘80s along with the ex-head of DARPA (Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency), Regina Dugan.

Apparently when the time-travel/teleportation to Mars occurred Obama went under the codename ‘Barry Soetero.’ According to Basiago the reason for this government-sponsored mission to Mars was to, “acclimate Martian humanoids and animals to their presence.” The thing that obviously blows this whole thing wide open is that anyone inventing a codename to travel to Mars for the first time would definitely not pick Barry (Sorry to anyone called Barry, but I’m thinking more along the lines of ‘David Bowie’ for cool space-travelling pseudonym). I should probably clarify that the White House has denied all claims of 19-year-old Obama being a teleporting chrononaut.

(Sidenote: If you search hard enough, you can find people proclaiming that the late David Bowie was really an alien - but that’s a whole other article)

Second on my favourite, most outrageous conspiracies is either the claim that the Pope has met with aliens or that the moon is a giant alien spacecraft. It’s hard to decide. Let’s start with the idea that the Pope has met with aliens. Sites such as YourNewsWire.com claimed back in late-2014/early-2015 that there is a relationship between aliens and the Vatican, and that face-to-face meetings between aliens and Popes have occurred. This seemed to be largely based on the current Pope’s statement that he would baptise Martians if they came to our planet. Emphasis on the IF they came to our planet.

So if the Pope-Alien friendship seems unlikely, how about the suggestion that the moon is a giant alien spacecraft? Well this conspiracy is quite popular (it has its own Wikipedia page), and the theory is interchangeably known as, ‘Spaceship Moon Theory,’ ‘Artificial Moon Theory,’ or, ‘Alien Moon Theory.’ Proposed in 1970 by two members of the then ‘Soviet Academy of Sciences,’ Michael Vasin and Alexander Shcherbakov suggested that the Moon is a, “hollowed-out planetoid created by unknown beings with technology far superior to any on Earth.” Various proposals revolving around the possibility of an ‘alien moon’ have been published since, and the idea is even rooted itself in popular culture. Isn’t Star Wars’ ‘death star’ an artificial moon after all?

Conspiracy theories tend to question everything NASA does. In the second installment of Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, named, 2010: Odyssey 2, an alien monolith turns Jupiter into a sun, with the moons surrounding it turning into inhabitable planets. The inhabitants of Earth name the sun ‘Lucifer,’ which in Latin means ‘light-bringer.’ Sounds pretty far-fetched? Well some people believe that NASA are actually attempting to do this through, ‘The Lucifer Project.’ According to this theory, NASA’s space probes i.e. Galileo, Cassini, Voyager etc, which all contain plutonium as a source of power, have been sent to trigger a thermonuclear reaction on either Jupiter or Saturn. However, this is impossible with the amount of plutonium aboard any of the space probes which have been sent near the planets.

Finally, let’s talk about possibly the most well-known space conspiracy out there. Was the moon landing faked? Well, let’s weigh it up. Most of the prevalent evidence that the moon landing didn’t take place can be easily countered.

For example:

There are no stars in any of the NASA photos - but the space walks onto the moon took place during the lunar day, meaning that the sun would outshine the stars.

The angle and colour of shadows is inconsistent - On the moon shadows are affected by multiple sources of light (the sun, the reflection from the earth, the reflection from the astronauts and lunar module) and uneven ground, wide angled lense distortion and lunar dust could also cause inconsistencies.
The flag placed on the moon fluttered despite there being no wind on the moon, suggesting that it was filmed on earth. - The flag only appeared to move when it was being put into place, it was rippled because it had been folded in storage for some time.

Overall, NASA and the TV show Mythbusters have repeatedly, and convincingly, refuted any claims that the moonlanding was fake. Despite this people continue to argue that the whole landing was filmed on a soundstage. As a result, the google search ‘moon landing hoax’ returns 1,890,000 results.

Join us for the opening of this exciting exhibition where art meets science, on Friday 11 March.