The 10th manned mission in the US Apollo space program was supposed to be a seemingly textbook one. However, the astronauts' return to Earth failed to truly mark the end of Apollo 16. The Science Channel took a look back at the mystery that took decades to solve.
Before returning to Earth, the crew retrieved film canisters from cameras outside the spacecraft. When the film was processed back on Earth, the images suggest Apollo 16 may not have been alone in space.
One of the images revealed an unidentified object with a strong resemblance to a Hollywood-esque flying saucer. Many wondered: how was it that the camera caught a glimpse of this 'flying anomaly,' but the astronauts did not?
One theory that surfaced was that the object was an image of Earth, as seen from the moon. That was debunked, however, when it was determined that the Earth wouldn't have been in that position from the moon's viewpoint. The mystery remained unsolved for more than three decades.
Using new technology in image analysis, which enabled NASA scientists to boost the image resolution, another object is revealed. A strap appears to connect the flying saucer to the command module. So what was it? A floodlight for the astronauts' spacewalks. Just like any other work site, astronauts needed light when working in the dark.
After 32 years, a very bright light was shed on this extraterrestrial mystery.
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