Apollo 8 Moon Mysteries: What is this massive mysterious structure on the far side of the moon during the Apollo 8 mission in Dec 1968?

Apollo 8 Flight Image AS08-18-2908 anomaly

Apollo 8 Flight Image AS08-18-2908 Moon Anomaly

A massive mysterious structure appears on the surface of the far side of the moon in the last image taken of the 70-mm magazine G – AS08-18-2828 to 2908 series of the Apollo 8 mission and was taken after Trans Earth Ejection (TEI) between December 25 and 27, 1968, and only appears in this last image …

What could this massive mysterious structure be?  Any idea’s?

Some background info …

Apollo 8

Apollo 8, the second human spaceflight mission in the United States Apollo space program, was launched on December 21, 1968, and became the first manned spacecraft to leave Earth orbit, reach the Earth’s Moon, orbit it and return safely to Earth. The three-astronaut crew — Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot James Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders — became the first humans to travel beyond low Earth orbit, the first to see Earth as a whole planet, the first to directly see the far side of the Moon, and then the first to witness Earthrise. The 1968 mission, the third flight of the Saturn V rocket and that rocket’s first manned launch, was also the first human spaceflight launch from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, located adjacent to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Apollo 8 took three days to travel to the Moon. It orbited ten times over the course of 20 hours, during which the crew made a Christmas Eve television broadcast where they read the first 10 verses from the Book of Genesis. At the time, the broadcast was the most watched TV program ever. Apollo 8’s successful mission paved the way for Apollo 11 to fulfill U.S. President John F. Kennedy‘s goal of landing a man on the Moon before the end of the 1960s.

After 20 hours in lunar orbit would come the biggest nail biting moment of the mission: on the far side of the Moon, out of radio contact with the Earth, the crew would fire their SPS engine again for the trans-Earth injection or TEI burn that would put them on a course back to Earth. The Trans-Earth Injection (TEI),  was scheduled for 2½ hours after the end of the television transmission. Before the re-entry there was a minor error in the course hours before the scheduled splashdown in the Pacific, but that was corrected. There were course correction opportunities built into this trans-Earth coast phase, one at TEI + 15 hours, one at TEI + 30 hours, and one two hours before Earth entry. Just before reentering the atmosphere, the crew would pyrotechnically separate the command module from the service module and ride in the gumdrop shaped spacecraft through the Earth’s atmosphere to splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

The Apollo 8 astronauts returned to Earth on December 27, 1968, when their spacecraft splashed down in the Northern Pacific Ocean. The landing was only 2.6 km from the target point away. The crew was recovered by the USS Yorktown and were named Time magazine‘s “Men of the Year” for 1968 upon their return.

Cruise back to Earth and re-entry

The cruise back to Earth was mostly a time for the crew to relax and monitor the spacecraft. As long as the trajectory specialists had calculated everything correctly, the spacecraft would re-enter two-and-half days after TEI and splashdown in the Pacific.

By the end of the mission the crew had taken 700 photographs of the Moon and 150 of the Earth.

(Read more)


Image AS08-18-2908 taken during Apollo 8 Flight: Moon after Trans Eart Ejection (TEI). – Image credit: Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center.

Image AS08-18-2908 was the last image taken of the 70-mm magazine G – AS08-18-2828 to 2908 series during Apollo 8 Flight and was taken after Trans Earth Ejection (TEI). The image can be found hereImage credit: Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center. The gallery was last updated 2009-01-15.

A trans-Earth injection (TEI) is a propulsion maneuver used to set a spacecraft on a trajectory which will intersect the Earth‘s Sphere of influence, usually putting the spacecraft on a Free return trajectory.

The maneuver is performed by a rocket engine. The spacecraft is usually in a parking orbit around the Moon at the time of TEI, in which case the burn is timed so that its midpoint is opposite the Earth’s location upon arrival. Unmanned space probes have also performed this maneuver from the Moon starting with Luna 16‘s direct ascent traverse from the lunar surface in 1970. In 2004, from outside the Earth-Moon system, the Stardust probe comet dust return mission performed TEI after visiting Comet Wild 2.

On the Apollo missions, it was performed by the restartable Service Propulsion System (SPS) engine on the Service Module after the undocking of the (LM) Lunar Module if provided. An Apollo TEI burn lasted approximately 203.7 seconds, providing a posigrade velocity increase of 1,076 m/s (3,531 ft/s). It was first performed by the Apollo 8 mission on December 25, 1968.

Note. The film (70-mm magazine G – AS08-18-2828 to 2908) of which this image is part of   was rated at 2000 ASA prior to flight and intended for taking photographs of astronomical phenomenon. Instead it was inadvertently used to photograph the Moon with a sensitivity of between 40 and 80 ASA assummed. The error was noted by the crew soon after the first 17 shots had been taken during the second orbit. With prior knowledge of the situation on Earth, the development chemistry was modified and usable, though grainy images were obtained. See 071:10:35 and 074:42:05.

The subsequent 64 frames were taken after TEI as the Moon was receding.

The image also appears on Page 342 of the Analysis of Apollo 8 photography and visual observations

Apollo 8 Flight Journal from around the time the image was taken:

Transcript Apollo 8 Day 4: Final Orbit and Trans-Earth Injection
Transcript Apollo 8 Day 4 & 5: The Black Team
Transcript Apollo 8 Day 5: The Green Team

Apollo 8 – TEI and after TEI (Playlist)

Apollo 8 Audio Highlights, incl; 
10. Communications Prior to Trans-Earth Injection (TEI) from 3 Minutes Till Loss of Signal |  11. There Is A Santa Claus;â Lovell Comments After TEI Burn | 12. Pre-Separation Communications; âPyro-Armâ Sequence


Image Gallery

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To be continued …..

More info 

Apollo 8 wiki


Image AS08-18-2908 Moon after TEI. Image credit: Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center.


Image AS08-18-2907  Moon after TEI. Image credit: Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center.
Apollo 8 Flight Journal The most recent updates to the Journal are listed in the updates file.
Apollo 8 Photography Index
Lunar Exploration Timeline, 1959-1976

Apollo 8 Documents – with thanks to Bob Andrepont

Mission Transcripts: Apollo 8

AS08_CM.PDF Apollo 8 Onboard Voice Transcription, January 1969, 270 pages
AS08_PAO.PDF Apollo 8 PAO Mission Commentary Transcript, 728 pages
AS08_TEC.PDF Apollo 8 Technical Air-to-Ground Voice Transcription, December 1968, 756 pages

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