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How NASA’s Lunar Orbiter was Struck by a Meteoroid and Survived to Tell the Tale

This image from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter narrow-angle camera (NAC) shows jagged lines caused by a meteoroid impact in Oct. 2014. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University)

On October 13, 2014, something rather…striking…happened to one of the cameras aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), which has been imaging the Moon from lunar orbit since 2008. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), which normally produces beautifully clear images of the lunar surface, produced an image that was wild and jittery. From the sudden and jagged pattern apparent in the image, the LROC team determined that the camera must have been hit by a tiny meteoroid, a piece of space debris no larger than the head of a pin but traveling much faster than a bullet.

“A meteoroid impact on the LROC NAC reminds us that LRO is constantly exposed to the hazards of space,” says Noah Petro, deputy project scientist from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “And as we continue to explore the Moon, it reminds us of the precious nature of the data being returned.”

Read the full story from NASA here: Camera on NASA’s Lunar Orbiter Survived 2014 Meteoroid Hit

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These Photos Taken from the Moon Show Lots and Lots of Stars

Photo of a partially-lit Earth captured by the Far Ultraviolet Camera on Apollo 16. Note that stars are visible in the background. (NASA)

One of the favorite allegations by those who continue to be skeptical of the Apollo moon landings is that there are no stars visible in the photographs taken by the astronauts while they were “supposedly” on the Moon. Now while there’s a rather short but succinct list of why that’s the case (and feel free to review those reasons here) the truth is that there ARE stars visible in photographs taken from the Moon—photographs taken in ultraviolet light during the penultimate Apollo 16 mission in April of 1972.

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Neil Armstrong Had a Man Purse and It Was Full of Awesome Stuff From His Moon Trip. True Story.

Neil Armstrong leading the Apollo 11 crew to the Astrovan on July 16, 1969 (NASA/KSC)

Neil Armstrong leading the Apollo 11 crew to the Astrovan on July 16, 1969 (NASA/KSC)

So we all know that Neil Armstrong was pretty much one of the coolest guys ever and, on July 20, 1969, achieved a level of awesomeness that will never be surpassed.* Sadly, the 82-year-old Armstrong passed away on Aug. 25, 2012 due to complications from surgery. But he left us with the memory of one of humankind’s most lofty achievements and gave face, voice, and heart to the unflagging need of our species to continually reach further and explore.

An Apollo-era TSB, or McDivitt purse Credit: Air and Space Museum)

An Apollo-era TSB, or McDivitt purse (Credit: Air and Space Museum)

Now, it turns out that he even left a little bit more that that. After his passing, Neil’s wife Carol found a white cloth bag in one of his closets and contacted National Air and Space Museum curator Allan Needell about it. Called a TSB (Temporary Stowage Bag) or, more colloquially, a “McDivitt purse,” Neil’s bag was filled with various objects that had been used during the Apollo 11 mission and, thankfully, not left aboard the LM to crash into the lunar surface before the astronauts began their trip back home. For a curator of space artifacts this was a windfall – here were 18 flown items from the most famous spaceflight mission ever, collected and held on to for 43 years by the first man on the Moon!

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