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Derek Willis

Fifty years of Apollo conspiracy theories

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Derek Willis
3 hours ago, Obviousman said:

The lunar camera had a small bandwidth to use, and so it was Slow Scan TV at 10 frames per second at 320 lines. Despite this, the transmitted images were of good quality. The problem was that those images had to be converted to suit commercial TV (30 frames per second, 525 lines) when received back on Earth. Essentially what they did was to point a regular TV camera at the screen that was displaying the SSTV pictures (not quite correct but good enough to explain what happened).

This meant that the images transmitted on Earth were a picture of a picture.

For a more complete description, see here:

http://www.parkes.atnf.csiro.au/news_events/apollo11/The_Apollo11_SSTV_Tapes_Search.pdf

That looks like an interesting document.

I assume there must have been a reason why they couldn't use the same type of color camera on the Moon as they used inside the spacecraft?

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Peter B
17 hours ago, Derek Willis said:

I was devastated. I had to make do with the BBC re-running what have now become the iconic images of the "First Step" (I hate that phase because an icon is an image).

What I do remember even from back then is how disappointed I was in the quality of the TV images. I remember having seen a transmission made from inside the Lunar Module on the way to the Moon. The quality of that color transmission was very good. Yet the black and white transmission from the Moon was poor. Do you know why there was such a difference in quality? 

Footage broadcast while the three crew were in space was transmitted using the Command Module's communications equipment, which was much more powerful than the Lunar Module's equipment.

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Peter B
2 hours ago, Derek Willis said:

That looks like an interesting document.

I assume there must have been a reason why they couldn't use the same type of color camera on the Moon as they used inside the spacecraft?

Bandwidth.

Colour TV cameras were used on later missions, but they needed a larger dish to be deployed by the astronauts. On Apollos 12 and 14 the dish was deployed beside the LM. On Apollos 15 to 17 the dish was on the rover. And because the dish needed to be pointed directly at Earth, TV images could only be broadcast from the Moon when the rover was stationary (which was when the astronauts were working anyway).

There's video recorded from when the rovers were in motion, but that was recorded on a small film camera and wasn't available until the astronauts returned to Earth.

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Derek Willis
48 minutes ago, Peter B said:

Bandwidth.

Colour TV cameras were used on later missions, but they needed a larger dish to be deployed by the astronauts. On Apollos 12 and 14 the dish was deployed beside the LM. On Apollos 15 to 17 the dish was on the rover. And because the dish needed to be pointed directly at Earth, TV images could only be broadcast from the Moon when the rover was stationary (which was when the astronauts were working anyway).

There's video recorded from when the rovers were in motion, but that was recorded on a small film camera and wasn't available until the astronauts returned to Earth.

It is a pity the complications of bandwidth and having to "re-televise" the TV stream couldn't have been sorted out in time for Apollo 11. The issue of the TV images is of course fodder for conspiracy theories. Apollo 11 had terrible TV, Apollo 12 had almost no TV because Alan Bean pointed the camera at the Sun. And of course Apollo 13 never made it to the surface. So the only half-descent TV images had to wait until Apollo 14, which was over 18 months after the first landing.

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Peter B
35 minutes ago, Derek Willis said:

It is a pity the complications of bandwidth and having to "re-televise" the TV stream couldn't have been sorted out in time for Apollo 11. The issue of the TV images is of course fodder for conspiracy theories. Apollo 11 had terrible TV, Apollo 12 had almost no TV because Alan Bean pointed the camera at the Sun. And of course Apollo 13 never made it to the surface. So the only half-descent TV images had to wait until Apollo 14, which was over 18 months after the first landing.

TV at all for Apollo 11 was a late inclusion. IIRC it was simply an issue of rushing to complete the testing for the equipment. Both Armstrong and Aldrin weren't happy with it - one more thing to fiddle with on what was already a pretty tricky mission.

From what I've read it was the public affairs people who pushed it through, saying something along the lines of, "The taxpayers of the USA might like to see where their money has gone."

And while the image quality wasn't great, it added a lot of immediacy to the live broadcast. These days, with all the photos, film and TV footage to look at, it's easy to forget that the only live imagery was those low quality TV pictures: the film and photos didn't become available until later.

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Phaeton80
Posted (edited)
On 21-12-2018 at 2:05 AM, GlitterRose said:

In fifty years, I would have hoped we'd have gotten smarter. 


Yeah.. erm.. no.

"I'd go to the Moon in a nanosecond. The problem is we don't have the technology to do that anymore. We used to but we destroyed that technology and it's a painful process to build it back again."

NASA Astronaut Don Pettit being interviewed, shares his thoughts on going to the moon. Pretty shocking that we no longer have the technology to go back to the moon - anyone know what happened to it?"
 

 

So, what did happen to that 1960'ies tech we 'arent able to build up again'..

1960-1960s-retro-computer-modem-telephon

 

:huh:

Edited by Phaeton80

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Derek Willis
17 minutes ago, Peter B said:

TV at all for Apollo 11 was a late inclusion. IIRC it was simply an issue of rushing to complete the testing for the equipment. Both Armstrong and Aldrin weren't happy with it - one more thing to fiddle with on what was already a pretty tricky mission.

From what I've read it was the public affairs people who pushed it through, saying something along the lines of, "The taxpayers of the USA might like to see where their money has gone."

And while the image quality wasn't great, it added a lot of immediacy to the live broadcast. These days, with all the photos, film and TV footage to look at, it's easy to forget that the only live imagery was those low quality TV pictures: the film and photos didn't become available until later.

I can understand the situation with Apollo 11. The Moonwalk was going to be short and a great deal had to be crammed in. On the other hand, like millions of other people I can remember as a kid being glued to my TV watching the live broadcast from Apollo 8 when they were orbiting the Moon. NASA's PR people must have been a bit slow if they didn't realize how important it would be to people - especially US taxpayers - to have the best view possible of the first landing. I am reminded of when ESA sent the Giotto probe to investigate Halley's Comet in 1986. During the development stage there was some dispute over whether having a camera in the visible range would be justified on scientific grounds.

But strangely you are perhaps right. The low quality ghostly images somehow make Apollo 11 seem more real. They enhance the "other worldly" nature of astronauts a quarter of a million miles away doing something that had never been done before.

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toast
Posted (edited)
43 minutes ago, Phaeton80 said:

The problem is we don't have the technology to do that anymore. We used to but we destroyed that technology and it's a painful process to build it back again."

I think that this statement is one of the most wrong interpreted statements related to space flight. Of course, we do not have some spare Saturn V on stock and the tailor made tools and facilities that were used in the 60s to build it are scrapped meanwhile. Hell, we are capable to put probes on asteroids some hundreds of millions of miles away, with a touch down within a planned 50 meters radius and on schedule. We operate an artificial habitat in the Earth`s orbit for more than 10 years now and without any endangering failures.  So the argument should be: we dont have the equipment anymore to do it today but we still know how we can build it and we can build it much better than in the 60s.

Edited by toast
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Farmer77
58 minutes ago, Phaeton80 said:

So, what did happen to that 1960'ies tech we 'arent able to build up again'..

John Titor took all the IBM 5100's

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Phaeton80
2 hours ago, toast said:

I think that this statement is one of the most wrong interpreted statements related to space flight. Of course, we do not have some spare Saturn V on stock and the tailor made tools and facilities that were used in the 60s to build it are scrapped meanwhile. Hell, we are capable to put probes on asteroids some hundreds of millions of miles away, with a touch down within a planned 50 meters radius and on schedule. We operate an artificial habitat in the Earth`s orbit for more than 10 years now and without any endangering failures.  So the argument should be: we dont have the equipment anymore to do it today but we still know how we can build it and we can build it much better than in the 60s.

 

..Indeed, but in this case Id incline to pose this has something to do with the choice of words used here.. It might have been better to have used the terms 'we are lacking the infrastructure & hardware, and its a painful and highly expensive process to build that up again'.

Technology isnt the only thing we lost in regards to the moon landings though, so it seems to be part of a larger pattern of 'losing'.

Losers.

 

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Peter B
11 hours ago, Derek Willis said:

I can understand the situation with Apollo 11. The Moonwalk was going to be short and a great deal had to be crammed in. On the other hand, like millions of other people I can remember as a kid being glued to my TV watching the live broadcast from Apollo 8 when they were orbiting the Moon. NASA's PR people must have been a bit slow if they didn't realize how important it would be to people - especially US taxpayers - to have the best view possible of the first landing. I am reminded of when ESA sent the Giotto probe to investigate Halley's Comet in 1986. During the development stage there was some dispute over whether having a camera in the visible range would be justified on scientific grounds.

But strangely you are perhaps right. The low quality ghostly images somehow make Apollo 11 seem more real. They enhance the "other worldly" nature of astronauts a quarter of a million miles away doing something that had never been done before.

Okay, obviously I explained myself poorly. The NASA PR people were the people who were most in favour of having a TV on the Lunar Module to broadcast the Apollo 11 moonwalk. They were the people who most fully understood the value of having TV on the mission. They were the people who overcame the technical objections of Mission Control, NASA management and the astronauts.

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Obviousman
1 hour ago, Peter B said:

Okay, obviously I explained myself poorly. The NASA PR people were the people who were most in favour of having a TV on the Lunar Module to broadcast the Apollo 11 moonwalk. They were the people who most fully understood the value of having TV on the mission. They were the people who overcame the technical objections of Mission Control, NASA management and the astronauts.

We should get Dwight in on this; he's the technical expert in this field specifically. Is he a member here?

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Derek Willis
8 hours ago, Peter B said:

Okay, obviously I explained myself poorly. The NASA PR people were the people who were most in favour of having a TV on the Lunar Module to broadcast the Apollo 11 moonwalk. They were the people who most fully understood the value of having TV on the mission. They were the people who overcame the technical objections of Mission Control, NASA management and the astronauts.

You explained yourself very well. I didn't put my point across very well.

Unlike the Soviets who did everything in secret, the US did everything in public. So for instance right from the beginning, starting with Alan Shepard, the launch of US missions were shown live on TV. I read an article many years ago describing how some people within NASA weren't happy with that because there was the risk the TV audience might see rockets blowing up and astronauts being killed. Anyone who saw the Challenger disaster in 1986 knows what that was like.

My point was that if the PR people knew from the outset how important it was to the US public to see space missions, they were slow in fully applying that to the Apollo 11 Moonwalk and insisting on better quality TV coverage. The Space Race was part of the Cold War, and contrasting the openness of the US with the secrecy of the USSR was a major aspect. Armstrong's "small step, giant leap" represented America winning the Space Race and a major battle in the Cold War. Perhaps because of the problem with bandwidth and the logistics of the first Moonwalk it simply wasn't possible to have better TV coverage.

As I said in an earlier post, I saw a repeat of Armstrong and Aldrin on the Moon a couple of hours after it happened. Contrasting what I was looking at with the Saturn V launch a few days earlier, and the transmission on the way to the Moon, the quality of the TV was dire. But like I said, it somehow makes what happened seem even more special. 

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ChrLzs

What OM said - TV and especially long distance transmission was in it's infancy, plus you need to realise that the event was almost NOT transmitted live at all, partly because of the fear of initial failure - even the most optimistic Apollo engineers were often quoted as expecting A11 to have not much more than 50% chance of success, even if it was just an aborted landing and a safe return.

Sure, the images weren't great, but I can remember that at that time, live televised sports events from other countries were also often of pitiful quality.  The moon landing wasn't that bad in context, given the distance and tiny allocation of bandwidth they had available

You really should get a copy of "The Dish" - it's a great movie and gives a good picture of where technology was back in the day...

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Derek Willis
3 hours ago, ChrLzs said:

What OM said - TV and especially long distance transmission was in it's infancy, plus you need to realise that the event was almost NOT transmitted live at all, partly because of the fear of initial failure - even the most optimistic Apollo engineers were often quoted as expecting A11 to have not much more than 50% chance of success, even if it was just an aborted landing and a safe return.

Sure, the images weren't great, but I can remember that at that time, live televised sports events from other countries were also often of pitiful quality.  The moon landing wasn't that bad in context, given the distance and tiny allocation of bandwidth they had available

You really should get a copy of "The Dish" - it's a great movie and gives a good picture of where technology was back in the day...

I understand the points being made about the bandwidth and the logistics of it all. What I remember - or at least I think I remember - is after having seen the transmission on the way to the Moon, I expected the coverage from the surface to be pretty much the same. In hindsight, what was achieved was fantastic in the sense that they managed to capture the moment, regardless of the quality.

I well remember some of the problems with television fifty years ago. In the UK a regular occurrence during programs would be the screen going blank and then the "There is a fault. Please do not adjust your set" sign being displayed.

I did watch "The Dish" on TV many years ago. I will see if I can get my hands on a copy.

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John n b
On 20/12/2018 at 3:03 PM, seanjo said:

How many years had Surveyor 3 been on the Moon's surface...that is your answer.

By the way, the Moon does have a very very very very thin atmosphere.

Is that colour photo of the LMs footpad part of a bigger photo, if not, what was the point of taking that picture. I do believe that man did go to the moon, but I read an article a few years ago and it was a photographer who was saying that some of the Apollo photos were just too perfect, for example, the Apollo 15 photo showing the astronaut saluting the flag with the LM and the rover, he said to set up a picture like that would probably be a day's work. I don't think NASA would be spending millions of dollars an hour having a couple of astronauts taking glamour shots on the moon.

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Peter B
2 hours ago, John n b said:

Is that colour photo of the LMs footpad part of a bigger photo, if not, what was the point of taking that picture. I do believe that man did go to the moon, but I read an article a few years ago and it was a photographer who was saying that some of the Apollo photos were just too perfect, for example, the Apollo 15 photo showing the astronaut saluting the flag with the LM and the rover, he said to set up a picture like that would probably be a day's work. I don't think NASA would be spending millions of dollars an hour having a couple of astronauts taking glamour shots on the moon.

G'day John n b

Yes, that colour photo in the OP is indeed a complete photo, not a crop. The photo was one of a sequence taken by one of the Apollo 11 astronauts to document the condition of the LM and the ground around it, given that it was taken on the first landing mission. In particular, the photo shows both the behaviour of the contact probe which poked out from below the landing pad, and the scouring of the ground caused by the descent engine in the last seconds before touchdown.

https://www.lpi.usra.edu/resources/apollo/catalog/70mm/magazine/?40

is a link to the Lunar and Planetary Institute website where you can see a low quality version of that photo, along with all the other photos on that particular reel of film. That should give you some context for the photo.

Regarding the claim that the photos were "too perfect", consider that the Apollo astronauts took literally thousands of photos during the missions, but only the few hundred best photos get much publicity. Go back to that magazine I linked and look at them all. You'll see some which are poorly framed, blurred, over- or under-exposed, sun-struck, or plain unintended photos. In other words, hardly "too perfect". As for the rest of the photos, they're workmanlike for the job intended. Consider both that (a) the astronauts received photography training from the best photographers in the USA (makes sense that they do the best possible job of documenting what they see), and (b) the astronauts had information on camera settings printed on their checklists (little books strapped to their arms), and were occasionally reminded by Mission Control about the settings to use for particularly important photos. Plus, they had plenty of film. So like newspaper photographers who might take hundreds of photos a day of which only a couple get published, when in doubt the astronauts would usually take another photo - they had little to lose except a few more seconds.

Finally, no, NASA didn't send the astronauts to the Moon to spend hours taking "glamour shots". Go back to the LPI site and take a serious look at the roughly 1000 photos from Apollo 15 which were taken on the Moon. Then come back and tell us how many of them are "glamour shots" and, by comparison, how many are of either rocks, or soil, or rocks and soil together. Plus, despite the number of photos taken, taking photographs represented only a small fraction of the time the astronauts spent on their moonwalks. The rest of the time was taken with activities like setting up scientific equipment, collecting samples, and travelling between sampling locations.

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John n b
19 minutes ago, Peter B said:

G'day John n b

Yes, that colour photo in the OP is indeed a complete photo, not a crop. The photo was one of a sequence taken by one of the Apollo 11 astronauts to document the condition of the LM and the ground around it, given that it was taken on the first landing mission. In particular, the photo shows both the behaviour of the contact probe which poked out from below the landing pad, and the scouring of the ground caused by the descent engine in the last seconds before touchdown.

https://www.lpi.usra.edu/resources/apollo/catalog/70mm/magazine/?40

is a link to the Lunar and Planetary Institute website where you can see a low quality version of that photo, along with all the other photos on that particular reel of film. That should give you some context for the photo.

Regarding the claim that the photos were "too perfect", consider that the Apollo astronauts took literally thousands of photos during the missions, but only the few hundred best photos get much publicity. Go back to that magazine I linked and look at them all. You'll see some which are poorly framed, blurred, over- or under-exposed, sun-struck, or plain unintended photos. In other words, hardly "too perfect". As for the rest of the photos, they're workmanlike for the job intended. Consider both that (a) the astronauts received photography training from the best photographers in the USA (makes sense that they do the best possible job of documenting what they see), and (b) the astronauts had information on camera settings printed on their checklists (little books strapped to their arms), and were occasionally reminded by Mission Control about the settings to use for particularly important photos. Plus, they had plenty of film. So like newspaper photographers who might take hundreds of photos a day of which only a couple get published, when in doubt the astronauts would usually take another photo - they had little to lose except a few more seconds.

Finally, no, NASA didn't send the astronauts to the Moon to spend hours taking "glamour shots". Go back to the LPI site and take a serious look at the roughly 1000 photos from Apollo 15 which were taken on the Moon. Then come back and tell us how many of them are "glamour shots" and, by comparison, how many are of either rocks, or soil, or rocks and soil together. Plus, despite the number of photos taken, taking photographs represented only a small fraction of the time the astronauts spent on their moonwalks. The rest of the time was taken with activities like setting up scientific equipment, collecting samples, and travelling between sampling locations.

I have seen the photos of the rocks and so on, and the over exposed pictures, those pictures serve the scientific community, its the ones with astronauts saluting flags and posing with their hardware they are the ones I'm refering to as glamour shots, how many takes would you have to do in order to get that perfect picture, considering there was no viewfinder on top of the hasselblads and time limited life support.

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Peter B
11 minutes ago, John n b said:

I have seen the photos of the rocks and so on, and the over exposed pictures, those pictures serve the scientific community, its the ones with astronauts saluting flags and posing with their hardware they are the ones I'm refering to as glamour shots, how many takes would you have to do in order to get that perfect picture, considering there was no viewfinder on top of the hasselblads and time limited life support.

How many shots? Well, looking at the specific magazine on Apollo 15, it seems there were four photos taken - each astronaut taking two photos of the other guy.

But perfect? Define "perfect". Consider, for one thing, how far away the subjects are from the camera. That alone should be a clue as to how to take a "perfect" photo with a camera that lacks a viewfinder.

Remember, while the photo provided in the OP is unaltered, most of the time the Apollo photos published in books and newspapers or used on TV shows would be altered to improve their aesthetics.

Consider the most famous photo of all - Armstrong's Man On The Moon photo of Aldrin. Look at how it's presented in books, then go and look at the original. That's one photo you almost never see unaltered. Usually it's been rotated to make the horizon level, been cropped to remove the lunar surface probe from the bottom of the image, and had a whole lot of black added to the top so that Aldrin is centred in the image. After all that work, you have something close to a "perfect" photo. But the original is far from perfect (IMHO).

Now, go back to those four original images from Apollo 15, and compare them to how they're presented in books. Also, with the originals, which of them are the "perfect" photos? The one where the astronaut and flag are centred, and the LM and rover off to one side? Or the ones which are more compositionally balanced, with the astronaut and flag to one side, and LM and rover to the other side?

But the key thing is that they took the photos from a good distance away, giving the people back on Earth plenty of options for cropping the photos to best aesthetic effect.

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Derek Willis
46 minutes ago, John n b said:

I have seen the photos of the rocks and so on, and the over exposed pictures, those pictures serve the scientific community, its the ones with astronauts saluting flags and posing with their hardware they are the ones I'm refering to as glamour shots, how many takes would you have to do in order to get that perfect picture, considering there was no viewfinder on top of the hasselblads and time limited life support.

The famous photograph of Buzz Aldrin on the Moon is often "doctored" because Neil Armstrong didn't take the shot too well. Firstly, there wasn't much black sky above Aldrin's head, and secondly he is at a bit of an angle. I find it ironic that the cover of Andrew Chaikin's well-respected history of Project Apollo - "A Man on the Moon" - uses a "doctored" version of the photograph.

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ChrLzs

I have no problems with 'doctoring' if it is for aesthetics and does not involve deliberate deception, or raise false expectations...

So I'm OK with that version of the photo of Aldrin - which otherwise is absolutely superb, perfectly in focus, sharp as a tack, very high resolution and perfectly exposed in very difficult lighting.  (I used to love working with medium format film, especially when loaded into a good camera like the Hasselblad...)

I'm not as OK with NASA's illustrations that show the fully sunlit earth or Moon, and also stars and nebulae in the same image.  That is not possible, either by eye or by camera in a single exposure, and if you were an aspiring astrophotographer, at some point you will have to correct your expectations....

And yes, I'm being a little tongue in cheek here - there are many issues in the world, even just in the world of space exploration, that are a lot more important..  So, carry on, over eager NASA illustrators - I guess it gives conspiracy theorists some extra fodder, and thus brings new topics to UM..

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Derek Willis
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Alien Origins said:

I don't see any conspiracy here...

https://space.stackexchange.com/questions/1691/why-didnt-the-apollo-11-lander-blow-the-dust-away-or-why-does-it-look-like-it

And besides what difference does it make weather there was dust or not? Oh, no dust means the LM landing was faked. I say get over it.

The first image of a foot pad on the Moon - the Surveyor 1 probe that landed in May 1966 - is clear of dust. In previous posts it has been described how generally speaking the dust beneath a lander is blown horizontally along the surface and so is unlikely to settle on the pads or other structures.

 

Surveyor02.jpg

I began this thread because for some reason the Surveyor 3 probe examined by the Apollo 12 astronauts was entirely covered in dust.

Edited by Derek Willis

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Minimalists
1 hour ago, Derek Willis said:

The first image of a foot pad on the Moon - the Surveyor 1 probe that landed in May 1966 - is clear of dust. In previous posts it has been described how generally speaking the dust beneath a lander is blown horizontally along the surface and so is unlikely to settle on the pads or other structures.

 

Surveyor02.jpg

I began this thread because for some reason the Surveyor 3 probe examined by the Apollo 12 astronauts was entirely covered in dust.

 
Quote

I began this thread because for some reason the Surveyor 3 probe examined by the Apollo 12 astronauts was entirely covered in dust.

Well it's not exactly the end of the world is it? 

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