An evening pause: An American car before Robert McNamara introduced built-in obsolescence.
Hat tip Cotour.
An evening pause: An American car before Robert McNamara introduced built-in obsolescence.
Hat tip Cotour.
I wrote this essay last year, to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission to the Moon. I think it worth reposting, especially because stories about Apollo 8 still refuse to show the Earthrise image as Bill Anders took it. Note that they took the picture on Christmas Eve, not Christmas day.
Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the moment when the three astronauts on Apollo 8 witnessed their first Earthrise while in orbit around the Moon, and Bill Anders snapped the picture of that Earthrise that has been been called “the most influential environmental picture ever taken.”
The last few days have seen numerous articles celebrating this iconic image. While all have captured in varying degrees the significance and influence of that picture on human society on Earth, all have failed to depict this image as Bill Anders, the photographer, took it. He did not frame the shot, in his mind, with the horizon on the bottom of the frame, as it has been depicted repeatedly in practically every article about this image, since the day it was published back in 1968.
Instead, Anders saw himself as an spaceman in a capsule orbiting the waist of the Moon. He also saw the Earth as merely another space object, now appearing from behind the waist of that Moon. As a result, he framed the shot with the horizon to the right, with the Earth moving from right to left as it moved out from behind the Moon, as shown on the right.
His perspective was that of a spacefarer, an explorer of the universe that sees the planets around him as objects within that universe in which he floats.
When we here are on Earth frame the image with the horizon on the bottom, we immediately reveal our limited planet-bound perspective. We automatically see ourselves on a planet’s surface, watching another planet rise above the distant horizon line.
This difference in perspective is to me the real meaning of this picture. On one hand we see the perspective of the past. On the other we see the perspective the future, for as long humanity can remain alive.
I prefer the future perspective, which is why I framed this image on the cover of Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8 the way Bill Anders took it. I prefer to align myself with that space-faring future.
And it was that space-faring future that spoke when they read from Genesis that evening. They had made the first human leap to another world, and they wished to describe and capture the majesty of that leap to the world. They succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.
Yet, they were also still mostly Earth-bound in mind, which is why Frank Borman’s concluding words during that Christmas eve telecast were so heartfelt. He was a spaceman in a delicate vehicle talking to his home of Earth, 240,000 miles away. “And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you — all of you on the good Earth.” They longed deeply to return, a wish that at that moment, in that vehicle, was quite reasonable.
Someday that desire to return to Earth will be gone. People will live and work and grow up in space, and see the Earth as Bill Anders saw it in his photograph fifty years ago.
And it is for that time that I long. It will be a future of majesty we can only imagine.
Merry Christmas to all, all of us still pinned down here on “the good Earth.”
The audio recording of this adapted version was recorded by Father Ted Berndt and his daughter Ellen Stout. Father Berndt was a priest at Bread of Life Charismatic Episcopal Church in Dousman, Wisconsin, a proud Marine, and a WWII Purple Heart recipient.
The poem was recorded in one take. The recording received a national A.I.R. (Achievement in Radio) award from the [u]March of Dimes [/u]and continues to be played in radio stations across the country.
Father Berndt passed away March 19th, 2004 after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. According to his daughter, “All he ever wanted to do was touch lives…to make a difference. We are blessed to share “A Soldier’s Silent Night” again with you this Christmas.”
It remains a truth still today that the only soldiers who are routinely welcomed by ordinary people everywhere in the world are American. To paraphrase Chamberlain’s speech in the film Gettysburg (1993), “We come to set other people free.”
Hat tip Edward Thelen.
October 3, 1863
By the President of the United States of America.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.
In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
Some background here.
An evening pause: This Postmodern Jukebox version does Michael Jackson’s song in the style of 1930s jazz.
I remember the passion for this song when Jackson first released it in 1982, including crowds forming on the street near Times Square to watch the music video. Yet, I have always wondered why. To me the song and video has always seemed quite uninteresting, almost boring. This version, however, I think brings it to life much better than Jackson. The two dancers are especially good.
Hat tip Diane Zimmerman.
Fifty years ago today Apollo 12 was launched, landing on the Moon several days later to become the second manned mission to land on another world.
To celebrate that achievement, let’s review a few of the mission’s high points. The image to the right, cropped and reduced to post here, shows that landing site, the lunar module Intrepid, the various tracks for the two moon-walks Pete Conrad and Alan Bean took, and the unmanned Surveyor-3 probe. The image was taken by Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter late in 2011 and released to the public in 2012. To really see some detail you will look at the full resolution version by clicking on the image. Or you can explore the landing even more thoroughly at the original release site.
First, there was Pete Conrad’s point blank landing. They wanted to land close enough to Surveyor 3 so that the two astronauts would be able to walk over to it during a spacewalk. He did this perfectly, bringing Intrepid down only 600 feet away. They were thus able to recover the probe’s scoop, camera, television cable, and other assorted parts. Once back on Earth the big discovery was that a single bacterium, Streptococcus mitis, had survived the journey from Earth and was still alive upon its return. Scientists theorized its survival occurred because prior to launch it had been freeze-dried during prelaunch vacuum tests.
Second, there were Pete Conrads’s first words upon stepping off the lunar module. As the third man to walk on the Moon and also one of the shortest Apollo astronauts, he won a bet with a French reporter, who did not believe he had the freedom to say whatever he wanted as his first words, by saying, “Whoopee! Man, that may have been a small step for Neal, but it’s a long one for me!”
Third, the astronauts installed the second seismometer on the Moon, which functioned for eight years.
Fourth, they brought back 75 pounds of material, which showed that while the Ocean of Storms was a mare lava field like the Sea of Tranquility, it had formed 500 million years more recently.
Fifth and most important, Apollo 12 proved that the Apollo 11 landing was not a fluke, that the engineering behind the Saturn 5 rocket, the Apollo capsule, and the lunar module, was sound. With courage and determination and a little clever re-engineering, those vehicles had been capable of taking humans anyway in the solar system. It is a shame we never took advantage of that possibility.
Hat tip to Mike Nelson for reminding me to post this.
An evening pause: I think I have posted previously about this 1930s engineering marvel, but no matter, this documentary does a very nice job of telling the wild story of biggest vehicle ever sent to Antarctica.
Hat tip Tom Biggar.
An evening pause: A short section from the last Carol Burnett Show, March 29, 1978. Note how Tim Conway can make people laugh merely by pausing.
Hat tip Edward Thelen.
This very interesting article does a nice job of reviewing the history of ISIS since 2010, the year that the Obama administration released just killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, using multiple news sources and stories.
Here is a rough timeline:
2008: ISIS forces estimated to be about 700 fighters, holding practically no ground.
2010: al-Baghdadi is released.
2011: al-Baghdadi takes over ISIS.
2014: Obama refers to ISIS as a “JV team.”
2015: ISIS forces estimated to be between 20,000 to 31,000 fighters.
2015: ISIS establishes global terrorism network resulting in terrorist attacks worldwide.
2016: ISIS occupies 17,500 square miles, with 35,000 fighters.
2017: (July): ISIS pushed out of Mosul.
2017 (October) ISIS in full retreat to U.S. backed forces, loses its capital Raqqa.
2017 (December): ISIS forces now estimated to be 1,000 fighters, holding 1,900 square miles.
2019: al-Baghadi is killed.
At this moment ISIS remains a threat, but a significantly reduced one from its peak in 2016.
Like Trump or hate him, an objective look at how he has handled this issue versus Obama’s handling once again puts the victory mark in Trump’s column. Obama’s policy made things worse in the Arab Middle East. Trump has so far improved things.
R.I.P. Alexei Leonov, the first man to walk in space, passed away today at the age of 85.
Leonov also participated in the Apollo-Soyuz mission, the first joint mission between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
The obituary notes Leonov’s sense of humor. I met Leonov in 2003 when I was in Moscow interviewing cosmonauts for my book Leaving Earth and found him to be a jovial, friendly, and open person.
He told me one story that I thought was significant. He noted the American practice in the 1960s to openly discuss everything that happened in its space effort worked to enhance our achievements, while the secrecy of the Russians only devalued anything they did. As he said,
The honesty of the American press made [those space achievements] more persuasive, more influential. Every little problem was written about in great detail, so that the image of the American astronauts grew, making them heroes. It was a much more clever approach. [Leaving Earth, p. 172]
Leonov for years would accompany astronauts on the bus on their way to the launchpad, providing encouragement. When Helen Sharman flew in space as a tourist in 1991 he gave her
…a ridiculous-looking, pink, frilly jumpsuit. “I got one of the ladies at the hotel to make it up for you,” Leonov said, his sweet round face lighting up in an infectious grin. “Just for fun.” [Leaving Earth, p. 301]
She wore it the first day in space, to the silly delight of everyone.
In the long endless future of humanity in space, only beginning now, Leonov will always hold an honored place.
In my leisure reading these days I have been very focused on the life and history of Ulysses S. Grant, the man who more than any single person made it possible for the north to win the Civil War in the 1860s..
More importantly, Grant’s unwavering offensive strategy in war, to never retreat, to always take the battle to the enemy, to always demand, as he wrote after winning his first major battle at Donelson, “complete and unconditional surrender,” and to always follow up that victory with grace and mercy, became the central tenet of American military and political strategy for the next eighty years, through the end of World War II. It is for this reason Grant in many ways could be considered among the four or five most influential individuals in American history.
In this leisured effort I have read a number of classic histories, including Shelby Foote’s three volume The Civil War: a Narrative and Bruce Catton’s A Stillness at Appomattox. I also, as I always do when I am trying to learn something about history, read the original sources, and for this Grant’s own memoirs came next. (Historians such as I might try to get things right, but for any non-historian it behooves you to read some original sources as well. This will help you distinguish between the historians who succeed in getting it right, and those who don’t.)
I then followed most recently with Jean Edward Smith’s 2001 biography, Grant. The previous writing had focused only on the Civil War. This book gave me the story before and after.
Grant is a remarkable figure. He appears to have been an astonishngly honest and straightforward man, coldly rational about war and what must be done to win. He also was amazingly unambitious, even as he strove hard to succeed. It was his belief never to aim for a promotion, because he believed that effort would warp his judgment. Instead, he tried to do the best he could at any moment, and hoped that by his good works he would rise.
One story I think not only epitomized the character of Grant, but of the America of his time. After the war and the completion of his two terms as president, he went on a world tour, where he was greeted everywhere with honors and adulation. Upon his arrival in Berlin Chancellor Bismarck immediately invited Grant to come and visit.
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An evening pause: This pause was first posted by me back in 2011. As tonight is the fiftieth anniversary of that grand moment, I post it again, if only to remind the jaded and pessimistic youth of today that miracles really can happen. As I wrote then,
In 1969 the lowly New York Mets, doormats in the National League from the moment the team was created in 1962, came out of nowhere to win the pennant and the World Championship of baseball. … I and my friend Lloyd attended the game in which the Mets clinched first place in the National League Eastern Division. Below is video showing highlights of the game plus the final out, with the crowd pouring onto the field. Though you can’t see me, I am in that crowd, jumping for joy at this most unlikely sports miracle. There was no rioting, only happy fans chanting “We’re number one!” in exuberant disbelief.
And I still have that small piece of turf from Shea Stadium, collected on that night, proof that the unexpected and improbable is always possible.
The unlikeliness of the Mets championship in 1969 cannot be overstated. Before 1969, the team had never finished higher than next to last, each season losing more games than they won. Then, in 1969 they posted a 100-62 record, while coming from far back to overtake the favored Chicago Cubs for the pennant. Moreover, during that 1969 season all kinds of unusual things kept happening. To give just one example, they won a double header by scores of 1-0, with the pitcher in both games driving in the winning run.
As their first manager and Hall-of-Famer Casey Stengel would say, “You could look it up!”
In 1973 the Mets won the pennant again, following the motto “You gotta believe!” pushed by their relief pitcher Tug McGraw. McGraw was so right. Combine talent, dedication, hard work, and an unwavering belief that all things are possible, humans can sometimes do amazing things.
Last night I attended another one of the monthly Arizona Space Business Roundtable events held here in Tucson to bring together the business-oriented space community of this city.
The speaker was Charles Walker, who had flown three shuttle missions in 1984 and 1985, but not as a NASA-employed astronaut but as an employee of McDonnell-Douglas, making him the first astronaut to fly in space under the employ of a private commercial company.
Walker’s job then was to monitor and maintain a drug-processing unit designed to produce large quantities of pure biological hormones that on Earth were simply not possible. Gravity polluted the process, while weightlessness acted to purify things. If successful the hormone produced could be sold to fight anemia, especially in individuals taking radiation treatments. The image on the right shows him on his third and last shuttle mission, launched November 26, 1985. He is working with a handheld protein crystal growth experiment, with the larger hormone purifying experiment on the wall behind this.
According to Walker’s presentation yesterday, this third flight in November 1985 demonstrated the process worked and could produce as much as one liter of hormone, enough to easily make back the cost of the project and leave room for an acceptable profit. They were thus ready for fullscale production on future shuttle flights, only to have the entire project die when the Challenger shuttle was lost on January 28, 1986. With that failure President Reagan declared that the shuttle would no longer be used for commercial flights.
Their business plan had been dependent on the artificially low launch prices NASA had been charging them for shuttle flights. Without the shuttle there was then no affordable alternative for getting into orbit.
The process is still viable, and the need for these drugs still exists. Whether they could now be flown on the new cheaper private rockets, on board future private space stations like Bigelow’s B330, remains unknown. A new company would have to pick up the pieces, as McDonnell-Douglas no longer exists, having been absorbed into Boeing.
I personally suspect there is real money to be made here, should someone decide to go for it.
What struck me most while watching Walker speak was the same thing that has struck me whenever I have seen or interviewed any astronaut: He appeared to be such an ordinary down-to-earth human being. He could have been anyone you meet anywhere.
What made him stand out, as he described his upbringing and how he became an astronaut, was not his intelligence or any physical attribute, but his clear willingness to stay focused on his goals, to work has hard as possible to make them come true. What made him succeed was an unwavering commitment. He wanted to get to space, and by gum he was going to do it!
Walker on his first flight in 1984.
For example, he was too young to fly in the initial space race in the 1960s. When he finally was old enough and ready in the 1970s, NASA’s space program was being shut down. That option seemed dead. So instead, he began looking for another route into space, and found it with private industry and possibility of making money by using weightlessness to produce medicines in space that could not be produced on Earth.
Obviously, luck is always a factor. Had his project been a little delayed, only a year, it would have never flown, and he would never have gone into space. Similarly, he needed to be in the right place at the right time to get this particularly job in the first place.
At the same time, “Luck is a residue of design,” as said by Branch Rickey, general manager of the Brooklyn Dodges in the 1950s. Walker didn’t give up when the Apollo program died in the 1970s, and thus he put himself in the right place at McDonnell-Douglas when this opportunity arose.
We should all pay close attention. If you have a dream, you need to follow it, with a fearless wholehearted commitment. If you do, you still might not get it as you dreamed, but you will increase your chances, and regardless, you will end up doing far better for yourself and everyone around you.
And you still might end up like Walker, bouncing around in weightlessness out in the vast reaches of outer space.
Samsung has just released a new report, dubbed Samsung KX50: The Future in Focus, where the company asked “Six of Britain’s leading academics and futurists” to give their prediction of what the world will be like fifty years hence.
According to the report [pdf], people will be living mostly in very dense urban environments consisting of giant, self-sufficient skyscrapers that grow their own food, huge underground complexes, and even undersea colonies. Travel will be by self-driving pods that can double as hotel rooms on long trips, with travel possible between places like Britain and Scandinavia by aquatic highways. Alongside these will be autonomous air taxis that use rivers as commuter routes, hyperloops, and hypersonic airliners.
Not that there will be much traveling. For environmental reasons, most food will be grown close to home, if not in the home itself. Manufacturing will be equally local thanks to 3D printing. And, thanks to automation and artificial intelligence, most people will work in their self-cleaning homes with most of their professional and personal interactions with others conducted through means of full-feedback holographs.
That means that most people will live very sedentary lives, but they’ll also be monitored by biosensors throughout the day as virtual digital companions assess their health, help doctors to prescribe treatments to keep them at peak fitness, dispense health advice, and even custom tailor diets and medicines. [emphasis mine]
The last paragraph immediately stood out to me. These academics saw no moral or ethical problem with such monitoring and supervision. Nor it appears were they aware of the political ramifications of such technology.
Similarly, the report also envisioned “TV and movies beamed directly to your brain via optoelectronic devices” and “Living forever with our memories uploaded to the Cloud.” And from introduction in the report [pdf] itself:
One of the first things that struck me, reading their submissions, was how much consensus there seems to be between all our futurologists, on matters such as direct brain-to-internet connection being a very real possibility before 2069.
The essays in the report itself confirmed this impression. The predictions of all these academics are all focused on imposing their hot-button leftist agenda, including preventing global warming, allowing gender fluidity, pushing environmental activism, and eliminating of meat as food (to name a few), and doing so by the use of technology that is implanted directly into each human being. The world they envision will have every human a pawn in their interconnected robotic-controlled society, with brain implants eliminating our ability to think independently because we are now part of a kind of hive mind.
Samsung then asked British citizens to rank these predictions by what they would most like to see come true. Self-cleaning robotic homes was by far the most popular prediction at 63%, with “Body implants that monitor our health and translate any language” coming in second at 44%.
This poll however was rigged, as it did not ask anyone if they opposed some predictions. I wonder what response Samsung would have gotten had they asked that question.
Nonetheless, the number of people enthused by the idea of monitoring by body implants make me fear for the future. Today young people are addicted to their smart phones and that hive mind. They see nothing wrong with Google monitoring their lives and even acting to control them. I fear that when more convenient but invasive monitoring and control become technologically possible, future generations will be quick to accept it, while they simultaneously lose their individuality and ability to create uniquely.
Only in Russia: The newly designed Russian spacesuits for use by astronauts during ascent and descent in the Soyuz capsule apparently do not have a fly that will allow the continuation of a long-standing Russian tradition initiated by Yuri Gagarin on his way to the launchpad for his historic spaceflight.
The Sokol-M prototype suit was designed as a replacement for suits worn during launches to the International Space Station (ISS) on Soyuz spacecraft. … The maker of the suits, the aerospace firm Zvezda, says they will be made of new materials and adaptable to different body sizes.
But the new design makes it impossible to carry out one particular ritual launched by the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, who had to relieve himself on the back wheel of the bus that was taking him to the launch pad in 1961.
The stop has been replicated at every launch from the Baikonur launch pad and, many male cosmonauts and astronauts pee on the tyre for good luck – something that would be impossible in the new suit, according to its maker. Female astronauts are not obligated to participate but some have brought vials of their urine to splash on the wheel instead.
“I’m not sure how they will be able to (carry on the tradition), since we haven’t designed the fly,” said the Zvezda director, Sergei Pozdnyakov, quoted by Russian agencies. “We have the design specifications. They don’t state that it’s necessary to pee on the wheel. The design specifications would need to be adapted.”
I suspect, knowing how important traditions and rituals are to the Russians, that the Russian government will require a design change to allow this tradition to continue.
An evening pause: Wells made one of the greatest films ever, Citizen Kane (1941), and then spent the rest of his life failing at finishing almost anything. Along the way he met some interesting people, and in this short clip during an interview on the Dick Cavett Show from July 27, 1970, he tells some of those stories.
His story about Churchill fits the gracious and humorous personality of that man to a “T”.
Hat tip Cotour.
An evening pause: I know this is late for the anniversary of D-Day, but I think it actually expresses well the same determination that made it possible for Americans to go to the Moon. Those men at Normandy, as well as in Apollo, stood for freedom, to paraphrase John Kennedy. And they were willing to die to make sure their friends, families, and nation remained free.
What do you stand for?
Hat tip commodude.
I am about to leave for Huntsville, Alabama to give a lecture: tomorrow, July 25, 2019, at 6 pm (Eastern), at the National Geographic Theater located at the US Space and Rocket Center.
This event is part of their “Pass the Torch” lecture series. My subject: How Apollo 8, not Apollo 11, won the 1960s space race and changed the world
If you are Huntsville or nearby please consider coming by. It will be a great event.
R.I.P. Christopher Columbus Kraft, the flight director for all the Mercury missions and later head of the Johnson Space Center during the 1960s march to the Moon, passed away today at the age of 95.
The techniques pioneered by Kraft and young flight directors who followed in his footsteps, men like Gene “failure is not an option” Kranz, the urbane Glynn Lunney and more, saved the Apollo 13 crew from the brink of disaster in the aftermath of an explosion on the way to the moon that severely damaged the spacecraft.
Once comparing his complex work as a flight director to a conductor’s, Kraft said, ‘The conductor can’t play all the instruments, he may not even be able to play any one of them,’” Bridenstine said. “‘But, he knows when the first violin should be playing, and he knows when the trumpets should be loud or soft, and when the drummer should be drumming. He mixes all this up and out comes music. That’s what we do here.’”
Kraft was part of the post-World War II can-do generation, a far cry from today’s NASA of schedule delays, bad management, engineering errors, and gigantic budget overruns. Kraft and his generation had “intergrity,” as astronaut Frank Borman once said. They had been given a difficult job and short deadline (the end of the decade). Rather than manipulate Congress and the public to give them more time and money so their jobs would be endlessly safe, they rolled up their sleeves and made it happen as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
An evening pause: “…and returning him safely to Earth.”
Splashdown from the perspective of the frogmen. Stay with it, as they show every detail, including the recovery of the capsule after the astronauts are already on board the aircraft carrier.
The three original 2″ videotapes showing the astronauts on the lunar surface during Apollo 11, purchased by an engineering student as part of a lot of more than a thousand reels in 1976 for just over $200 have now sold at auction for $1.82 million.
The auction house, Sotheby’s, did not say who purchased the tapes. Hopefully whoever has intends to release the visuals, since it appears the quality is better than what we presently have.
An evening pause: In honor of the fiftieth anniversary.
The astronauts plant the American flag, after they had unveiled a plaque on the lunar module with the words, “We came in peace for all mankind.”
This was an American achievement, accomplished because our free and competitive society gave us the resources and trained talent to make it happen. We did it for all mankind, in good will, but we did it, no one else.
It is time that we as well as everyone else do it again.
In celebration of Apollo 11: Continuing the theme of yesterday’s cool image, where I noted how little of the Moon we have really seen, today’s cool image gives us a breath-taking glimpse of one such untouched region, the Montes Carpatus region.
The photograph to the right, reduced to post here, was released by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) science team in March 2018. From the release:
Volcanic rocks are our best window to the deep interior of the Moon, and the Montes Carpatus has no shortage of volcanic landforms: lava flows, pyroclatic deposits, rilles, and more! Lavas are formed as the mantle begins to melt, so by sampling volcanic rocks of various ages from regions across the Moon scientists can reconstruct the range of compositions and processes over time. The Montes Carpatus formed as a result of the giant impact that formed the mighty Imbrium basin, the mountains are actually the raised rim of the basin.
Today is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing. If you had told anyone involved in that mission that fifty years later no significant further manned exploration of the Moon had yet occurred, they would have scoffed.
It is a terrible condemnation of my generation, the generation that followed Apollo 11, that we did nothing grand like this. I challenge the generations today to reach higher, and do better.
An evening pause: In honor of the fiftieth anniversary.
Neil Armstrong takes the first steps on the Moon. Note his focus is almost entirely on describing what he sees and experiences. He is doing this for two reasons, first to provide knowledge of the Moon to the world, and second to provide engineers as much information as possible for future missions.
This focus explains why the first thing he does is to get a contingency rock sample, just in case they need to leave the Moon quickly.
Note also that when Buzz Aldrin joins Armstrong on the surface, he is as professional and calm, proving that the way he has been portrayed by some recent movies as as undisciplined jerk is simply a slander. He would not have been picked for this mission if he really behaved that way.
He wanted to be the first, and lobbied to get that chance. After the decision was made he got down to work to make the mission a success.
For a different view of these same events, watch this video.
An evening pause: In honor of the fiftieth anniversary.
Note the calm tone in all the voices, even when something is not quite right. To do really great things, one must not let one’s emotions run the show. You need to be cool-headed and focused on the task at at hand. If only today’s adult generation, especially in the world of politics, would do the same.
Just before Armstrong brings Eagle down, you will hear a voice say “60 seconds,” then “30 seconds.” That is mission control telling him how much time they estimate he has before he runs out of fuel.
Below the fold is the same last few minutes of the landing, produced by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) science team using its high resolution images to recreate a simulation of what Armstrong saw in his window. Remember, the view in the original 16mm film was out Aldrin’s window.
An evening pause: In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of Apollo 11, today’s evening pause shows the moment when the lunar module Eagle undocked from the command module Columbia. Though this video includes communications with mission control at the start, the actual undocking occurred on the back side of the moon, when the astronauts were out of touch with the Earth.
Near the end of the video, after they have reacquired communications with the ground, you can hear a recitation of a long string of numbers. This is mission control providing the astronauts the numbers that had to be uploaded into their onboard computer so that it could correctly fire the spacecraft engines at the right time and for the right duration.
Continuing this week’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission means we get to look at another cool image from the Moon. The photograph on the right, reduced to post here, was released by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) science team in 2016.
What are we looking at? At first glance it looks like a black & white photograph of The Wave in northern Arizona. What it is instead is the pattern of ejecta laid down across the surrounding terrain immediately after the impact that created relatively fresh Chaplygin Crater. From the website:
The delicate patterns of flow across, over, and down local topography clearly show that ejecta traveled as a ground hugging flow for great distances, rather than simply being tossed out on a ballistic trajectory. Very near the rim lies a dark, lacy, discontinuous crust of now frozen impact melt. Clearly this dark material is on top of the bright material so it was the very last material ejected from the crater.
Below the fold is a wider shot of the entire crater and its surrounding terrain, with the rectangle indicating the region covered by the close-up above The dark crust near the rim mentioned in the quote can clearly be seen.
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