The Archimedes "Platform"?
CCD image of Archimedes made with Lynxx PC CCD Camera (Fingerlakes Instruments)
provided by Gregory Terrance
Click on the thumbnails below to see full images!
The ARCHIMEDES PLATFORM
- Francis Ridge
I had never heard of this feature before, but I had seen it!
Right after I started The Lunascan Project in the fall of 1995, I purchased a few reference books dealing with LTPs. One of those was a book called, "Extraterrestrial Archaeology", by David Hatcher Childress. On page 137 there are two photos. The upper one is a dark, but very clear image of a "large platform south of the crater Archimedes". The caption said that the object was reported by a Mr. Darling as, platform size ~5 miles long, ~1 mile wide. Elevation ~5,000 ft AGL. Photos and caption courtesy of Fred Steckling. Mr. Darling's name never registered with me until months later.
I later found a colleague who is the LTP Recorder for ALPO. I didn't realize it right away, but he was the man mentioned in that book, David O. Darling. He and I discussed this "platform" on numerous occasions by phone, and often via email. In December I received a video he had made showing the Archimedes Platform in various NASA images. I frame-grabbed them and sent a couple of them via email to the VGL group on December 26th. The first one was, what I thought, a lunar orbiter image. It had the narrow framelet lines running left to right. (The reason the lines run diagonally is that I frame-grabbed the best one I could get from David's video).
Photo courtesy NASA Apollo image AS15-1428
& National Geographic Magazine
On December 30th; Lan Fleming of VGL informed me via email that he had checked the Lunar Orbiter catalogs, and there were three photographs of Archimedes, all made at high altitude by Lunar Orbiter 4. The photographs were: LO4-109H3, 110H1, and 115H1 (Darling reported there was another, LO4-114H3)
On December 31st; Darling sent me an email: "The photograph in the National Geographic magazine that I sent you (in the video) was taken by the panoramic mapping camera located in the Service Module of the Apollo 15." This is an enlargement of the original image zeroing-in on the target, "The Archimedes Platform".
Photo courtesy NASA Apollo image AS15-1428
& National Geographic Magazine (enlarged)
On February 16th; Lan Fleming advised me that he had somehow lost the two images I had sent him and wanted me to re-send them. Right after that he went to work with some NASA images and downloaded the blow-up of the "platform" shown in this report.
Photo scanned from original NASA negative
enlarged by VGL's Lan Fleming
Lan Fleming: Fran; Attached is an image I scanned from the negative of AS15-1428 showing the "platform" at a somewhat higher lighting angle. You can match the craters in the image and the shape of the platform itself to the images you sent earlier. I think we have been misinterpreting this feature. It appears to be just the planar face of a ridge with a rather steep slope. We probably should have figured this out from the images you sent. The floor of the crater Archimedes, which is visible in your Arch1.jpg, is a mid-tone gray. The "platform" is a saturated white, meaning that it must be sloping upward away from the sun at an angle greater than the horizontal. It's unusually polygonal shape, surrounded by black shadows in the low-sun angle panoramic photo and gives the strong illusion of a horizontal platform, shaped something like a pancake-flipping spatula jutting out of the ground. But when you take into account the brightness of a truly horizontal surface (the floor of Archimedes) the illusion is explained. I know that the region around Archimedes is a source of TLPs, and there are some wedge-shaped or conical hills in the vicinity in AS15-1428 that appear volcanic in origin. There are also a lot of rilles that might be lava channels. The area may be geologically interesting, but I don't think there is anything suggesting an artificial origin.
Fran Ridge: I don't think that David O. Darling from ALPO thought this was anything artificial. We both thought it was interesting, however. It did look like it might be some anomalous suspended structure in that one Apollo 15 image.
Lan Fleming: Maybe you guys didn't think so, but I would have argued strenuously that if the "platform" were really a suspended structure, then it is most likely artificial. That's probably a moot argument, since it appears to be the inclined slope of a ridge. It still is an interesting geological feature, since the surrounding ridges are all very rounded in the typical lunar fashion while the "platform" slope has a very flat, almost faceted appearance.
Follow-up: I (later) spoke with ALPO's TLP Recorder, David O. Darling. David had discovered this back in the 1970's and has studied all the NASA observatory images (which include it) and has done extensive Earth-based telescopic imaging of it. He is convinced that the object is real, not an illusion caused by lighting. The Lunascan Project and the VGL group took the best image of the area from Section 22 and enlarged it. It is fairly easy to conclude from that single enlargement that the anomaly appears to be a matter of lighting. But what if the image we were using had been doctored or airbrushed? If Darling's theory was based only on one image, that would be one thing. Apparently he has studied the area better and longer than any of us have. I have requested the VGL group to search for other images in the NASA files, while we concentrate our HPS imaging on areas such as this. Archimedes will be an area of intense scrutiny when the Wolfe series scope is completed. We hope to have it up and running by mid June.
On May 20, 1997, Lan Fleming wrote:
I'm surprised to hear (that) since Mr. Darling seems to be fairly conservative
about the question of lunar anomalies; much more so than I am. The "platform"
may well be anomalous, but it is not a horizontal surface. As I said before,
the fact that it is much brighter than the horizontal floor of Archimedes
in the original image you sent out indicates that it is not horizontal,
but is sloping upward and away from the sun. It is certainly different
from the other surfaces in the region, which show the typically gradual
and rounded slopes of lunar mountains. The slope of the "platform" is
not only steeper, but it appears to be planar, which is unusual. The possibility
hadn't occurred to me that the Apollo mapping camera images were altered.
But since I already think that the government's policy regarding planetary
anomalies is thoroughly dishonest, I wouldn't rule that out. I'd be interested
in seeing any telescopic photos of the region, if Mr. Darling has any
he would care to release.