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This Day in Space History: One Small Step

Note: This is an updated article from 2012.

Panorama of the Eagle lunar module by Ed Hengeveld from JSC scans.

“That’s one small step for a man… one giant leap for mankind.”

I’m not sure what else need be said about the significance of what happened on this day in 1969, 48 years ago… it was a shining moment in human history, and will be — should be — remembered forever as an example of what people can achieve when challenged, driven, and inspired.

More giant leaps have been made since then, and undoubtedly more will be made in the future, but this was the first and to this date still very much the biggest.
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No, The Moon Landings Weren’t Faked.

Buzz Aldrin on the Moon with a lunar seismic experiment, July 20, 1969 (NASA photo)

Buzz Aldrin on the Moon with a lunar seismic experiment, July 20, 1969 (NASA photo)

When you write about space as much as I do (and use a laptop with a big NASA sticker on the cover no less) you’re more than occasionally going to hear the question: did we really land on the Moon? (That, and “do you believe in UFOs?” My answer: not as credible evidence of aliens, no.) And with this year (2014) marking the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing — which, by the way, most definitely happened — and this particular weekend being 45 years since the Apollo 10 “dress rehearsal” lunar orbiting mission, I thought I’d assemble a list of a few oft-quoted  “proofs” of a grand-scale Moon landing hoax… and then let you know why they’re completely wrong.

You may have heard a few of these before:

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This Day in Space History: One Small Step

Note: Reposted/updated article from 2012.

Panorama of the Eagle lunar module by Ed Hengeveld from JSC scans.

“That’s one small step for a man… one giant leap for mankind.”

I’m not sure what else need be said about the significance of what happened on this day in 1969, 44 years ago… it was a shining moment in human history, and will be — should be — remembered forever as an example of what people can achieve when challenged, driven and inspired.

Maybe more giant leaps have been made since then, and undoubtedly more will be made in the future, but this was the first… and to this date, still very much the biggest.
Read the rest of this entry

Curiosity Leaves its “Bootprint”

Curiosity’s wheel mark and Buzz Aldrin’s boot print — extraterrestrial human marks made 43 years apart

In an image reminiscent of the historical photo of Buzz Aldrin’s boot print in the lunar soil, Curiosity leaves a wheel scuff in a wind-formed ripple at a site called “Rocknest”.

The rover’s right Navigation camera took this image of the scuff mark on the mission’s 57th Martian day, or sol (Oct. 3, 2012). For scale, the width of the wheel track is about 16 inches (40 centimeters)… about twice the width of Aldrin’s bootprint.

Want a closer (and color!) look at the wheel mark? Click here.

Aldrin’s lunar boots, as well as Armstrong’s (and all the Apollo moonwalkers besides Cernan and Schmitt) are actually still on the Moon, but their multiple layers of fabrics have likely turned to powder under the constant barrage of UV radiation.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech (Apollo image via the Project Apollo Image Archive and NASA)

A Leap for Mankind

First Photo from the Moon

First Photo from the Moon

“That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” After speaking these historic words at 10:56 EDT on July 20, 1969, marking the moment that humanity first placed a foot on a world other than its own, Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong began his work documenting the lunar surface before him.

The image above is the first photo taken by Armstrong after exiting Eagle, the landing module.

Lunar surface

Lunar surface

After this image, Armstrong took several more images of the surrounding landscape before fellow astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr. exited the module as well. The third man on the mission, Michael Collins, remained in lunar orbit piloting the command module Columbia.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Armstrong, and all the Apollo mission astronauts, were trained in the use of a modified Hasselblad 500 EL camera, which took wonderfully detailed images on large-format film. The photos they brought back have been high-quality scanned by Kipp Teague and are now available online at the Apollo Image Gallery.

Aldrin lands

Aldrin lands

This Monday is the 40th anniversary of the first lunar landing. More than just a page in the history books, it marks a shining moment for all of humanity when the combined ingenuity and courage of many, many people succeeded in the daunting task of, in President Kennedy’s words from May 25, 1961, “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth.” To date, only 12 people have been on the moon, but with the launch of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and LCROSS mission this year the path is once again paved for a return to our closest companion in the very near future.

Images: NASA/Kipp Teague

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