Fascinating facts about moon tripsBy Charles E. Buban
Philippine Daily Inquirer
When Neil Armstrong —who died on Aug. 25 at the age of 82—became the first man to set foot on the moon, he made everyone back on earth look up and stare at the familiar fixture in our night sky and for that brief moment the world was united in awe.
He even made an entire generation of children want to become astronauts, rocket scientists, or engineers.
His feat, which he made on July 20, 1969, together with fellow moon walker Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin (the third member of the mission, Michael Collins, remained alone in lunar orbit to pilot Colombia as well as help the two complete their mission on the moon’s surface), redrew the boundaries of human experience.
Armstrong and Aldrin spent two hours and 32 minutes on the lunar surface, collecting samples, conducting experiments and taking photographs.
So what have we learned about our closest celestial neighbor after the Apollo 11 mission? Here are some interesting facts and trivia:
1The Apollo 11’s trip to the moon took four days, six hours and 45 minutes (and another two days, 22 hours and 56 minutes for the return trip).
2Before the moon landing of the lunar module Eagle (which incidentally, was named after the bald eagle appearing in the Apollo 11 mission insignia), many scientists feared that the moon was covered with a thick blanket of featherweight dust that would engulf any landing spacecraft.
3Armstrong set foot on the moon at 10:56 pm Eastern Daylight Time (that’s 10:56 a.m. in the Philippines).
4Aldrin joined Armstrong on the surface about 19 minutes after.
5When Armstrong stepped off the ladder of his lunar module, he left on the surface his boot prints, which will remain there for at least another million years because the moon has no appreciable atmosphere (no wind and no rain to erode the mark).
6The two astronauts collected 22 kg of materials that included 50 rocks composed mostly of basalts and breccias (contains broken fragments of older rocks cemented together), samples of the fine-grained lunar “soil” and two tubes containing soil samples taken 13 cm below the Moon’s surface.
7These samples contain no water (although presence of water in ice and rocks was detected in a 2009 unmanned mission) and after extensive testing, revealed no evidence for life or at any time in the Moon’s history.
8The items Armstrong and Aldrin left on the moon surface include their portable life support backpacks; an American flag; half of the Eagle lunar landing module; a patch of the ill-fated Apollo 1 mission (where three American astronauts were killed when the module was engulfed in flames during a training exercise in 1967); medals commemorating pioneering Soviet cosmonauts Vladimir Komarov and Yuri Gagarin (who had died in flight in 1967 and 1968, respectively); goodwill messages from 73 world leaders; a small gold pin shaped like an olive branch (a symbol of peace); empty food bags; and of course, a defecation collection device.
9In all, 12 men (all Americans) were able to walk on the moon from 1969 to 1972. The last to do so was Harrison Schmitt who rode with the Apollo 17 mission.
10The next manned National Aeronautics and Space Administration mission set to land on the Moon will happen well beyond 2018.
11Art Dula, founder and chief executive of Excalibur Almaz, recently announced that his company is ready to sell tickets for a round trip—for three—to the moon and back. The trip will include orbiting the lunar surface and return safely to earth, parachuting to the ground in a re-usable return vehicle. This 804,672 km round-trip is estimated to cost $150 million (P6.3 billion) per person.
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