An association of astronomers has convened to listen to the plan of Professor Barbenfouillis, their president, to fly to the moon. With the one dissenting voice quashed by Barbenfouillis and the other members, the plan is approved with Barbenfouillis choosing five others to accompany him. Most of the preparation for the trip is in building the vessel and launching mechanism, which resemble a large bullet and a large gun respectively.
Hitting the moon in the eye, the six land safely at their destination. They find that much about the moon is wonderful and fantastical, but also that much is not what they would have liked to encounter as it is life threatening. They have to find a way to get out of their alien predicament to get back home safely.
Paris (AFP) – The Moon, our planet’s constant companion for some 4.5 billion years, may have been forged by a rash of smaller bodies smashing into an embryonic Earth, researchers said Monday.
Such a bombardment birth would explain a major inconsistency in the prevailing hypothesis that the Moon splintered off in a single, giant impact between Earth and a Mars-sized celestial body.
“The multiple impact scenario is a more ‘natural’ way of explaining the formation of the Moon.”
In such a scenario, scientists expect that about a fifth of the Moon’s material would have come from Earth and the rest from the impacting body.
Yet, the makeup of the Earth and the Moon are near identical — an improbability that has long perplexed backers of the single-impact hypothesis.
“In the early stages of the Solar System, impacts were very abundant, therefore it is more natural that several common impactors formed the Moon rather than one special one.”
“The multiple impact scenario is a more ‘natural’ way of explaining the formation of the Moon,” said Raluca Rufu of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, who co-authored the new study published in the journal Nature Geoscience.
Such multiple hits would have excavated more Earth material than a single one, which means the moonlets would more closely resemble our planet’s composition, said the study authors. Read the rest of this entry »
Who is Michael Collins?
Neil Armstrong may have been the first person to walk on the moon, but he wasn’t the only astronaut on the Apollo 11 mission; someone had to stay onboard the ship.
Molly Fosco writes: Michael Collins is one of three astronauts that were aboard the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. You’re probably a little more familiar with the other two astronauts from the mission, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. That’s because Collins is the only one that didn’t get to actually walk on the moon, which is why he’s sometimes referred to as the “forgotten astronaut.”
Collins was the command module pilot on Apollo 11 so he stayed behind to man the spacecraft while Armstrong and Aldrin took their famous moonwalk. Ultimately, this means that Collins isn’t a household name, but he’s still a very important part of space history. Read the rest of this entry »
A TV documentary set to premier today (July 20) will tell the incredible story of the first moon landing, which took place 47 years ago today.
The documentary, called “Go: The Great Race,” will air four times today on the Decades TV Network, as a special episode of the show “Through the Decades.” A trailer for the documentary leads off with footage from President John F. Kennedy delivering his famous 1961 speech that called for the U.S. to put a man on the moon and return him safely by the end of the decade.
“He had no reason to believe that we could even come close to doing something like that,” says one of the documentary’s interviewees (supposedly someone who worked on the Apollo, referring to Kennedy’s challenge. Read the rest of this entry »
Startup Proposes to Land Payload of Scientific Gear on Lunar Surface Some Time Next Year.
The government’s endorsement would eliminate the largest regulatory obstacle to plans by Moon Express, a relatively obscure space startup, to land a roughly 20-pound package of scientific hardware on the Moon sometime next year. It also would provide the biggest federal boost yet for unmanned commercial space exploration and, potentially, the first in an array of for-profit ventures throughout the solar system.
The expected decision, said the people familiar with the details, is expected to set important legal and diplomatic precedents for how Washington will ensure such nongovernmental projects comply with longstanding international space treaties. The principles are likely to apply to future spacecraft whose potential purposes range from mining asteroids to tracking space debris.
Approval of a formal launch license for the second half of 2017 is still months away, and the proposed mission poses huge technical hurdles for California-based Moon Express, including the fact that the rocket it wants to use hasn’t yet flown.
But the project’s proponents have considered federal clearance of the suitcase-size MX-1 lander and its payload as well as approval of a planned two-week operation on the Moon itself to pose the most significant legal challenges to the mission.
After months of lobbying by Moon Express officials and high-level deliberations among various federal agencies led by the White House science office, the people familiar with the matter said, the company appears close to obtaining what it has called “mission approval.” Until recently, Moon Express faced a regulatory Catch-22 because there was no template for getting Washington’s blessing for what it proposed.
Official action coordinated through the Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates U.S. rocket launches and is responsible for traditional payload reviews, could come as soon as the next few weeks, these people said. Read the rest of this entry »
Bruce Dormancy writes: Holiday shopping for items from the Moon, Mars and the wilds of outer space is still possible for those open to meteoritic stocking stuffers. Such truly ancient pieces of space rock — think older than Earth itself — are increasingly sought after by hundreds of high-end collectors looking for natural pieces of sculpture.
Although a plethora of commercial startups are pining for metal riches from asteroids in the Main Asteroid Belt and beyond, meteorite collectors here on terra firma now routinely buy and sell these off-world treasures at auction.
Christie’s South Kensington Auction House in London is planning their first catalog sale of meteorites next April. Prices typically range from around $500 to over $100,000, depending on the size, type of meteorites, condition and provenance, James Hyslop, the Head of Science & Books at Christie’s South Kensington, told me.
However, some meteorites can sell for much higher.
The Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing paid a cool $1 million for two small Mars meteorites. Indeed, Hyslop says lunar and Martian meteorites are the most sought after, since they are also the most rare; representing less than one percent of the estimated 62,000 catalogued meteorites. The rest all originate from asteroidal or cometary bodies in deep space.
Darryl Pitt, Curator of the Macovich Collection of Meteorites in New York — one of the world’s largest private collections, told me that any given meteorite’s sales value is also influenced by other factors. They include whether the piece is whole or fractured; its locality at the time of discovery; its esthetics; color; crystalline structure and translucency.
And often, the more bizarre their shapes, the better collectors like it. Hyslop notes that meteorites with naturally-occurring holes are much rarer and more highly-prized.
Alan Rubin, a UCLA research geochemist, told me that such bizarre shapes result from both fragmentation while traveling through Earth’s atmosphere and often years of terrestrial weathering after hitting the ground.
But the hot quick trip through our atmosphere is nothing to compared to their circuitous orbital routes to Earth itself.
For meteorites that originated on the Moon or Mars, their journeys here can take up to millions of years. Most lunar meteorites either reach the Earth in a few days or achieve quasi-geocentric orbits that bring them to Earth in less than a million years,” said Rubin.
Mars meteorites typically take much longer.
Rubin says we know this as a result of cosmic ray dating on the meteorites themselves.
He says that when objects in interplanetary space are less than a few meters in size, they are penetrated by cosmic rays which transmute some elements into measurable radioactive isotopes. Read the rest of this entry »
“Something was going right. Something made us proud.’
J. Christian Adams writes: During Christmastime in 1968, one of the most significant events in human history occurred. The flight of Apollo 8 marked the first time humans departed Earth orbit and traveled to the dark side of the moon. The Christmas Eve lunar orbit of Apollo 8 also marked one of most profoundly unifying moments for our nation. The journey to space was on everyone’s mind Christmas morning. And the fulfillment of man’s most ancient dream was illuminated by man’s most ancient text, while the entire world watched in wonder.
“Never before had man so vividly understood how good and perfectly designed for human life Earth was. Never before had creation been described by men so competent to describe it.”
With the eventual landing of Apollo 11 on the surface of the moon, the achievement of Apollo 8 was nudged into the background. School textbooks teach about Apollo 11, but not Apollo 8. Yet the lunar landing of Apollo 11 merely capped off the journey of Apollo 8. As the world watched on live television, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders departed Earth orbit for space and orbited the moon for the first time.
Perhaps only the circumnavigation of Magellan in 1522 can compare to Apollo 8, and Magellan himself died halfway around the globe. It had a fraction of the significance and risk of Apollo 8. Centuries of experience animated any 16th century sea voyage. When Frank Borman and his crew ignited a single engine burn to leave Earth orbit, they were in a fragile capsule only 12 feet in diameter crossing the cold dangerous expanse of space. Simply, Apollo 8 may be the most significant event in the history of human exploration.
Not only were Borman and his crew the first to depart Earth orbit, they still hold the record for the highest altitude flight. Because of the type of lunar orbit Apollo 8 deployed, they ventured further from Earth than any subsequent manned craft. They were also the first humans to gaze on the totality of the entire Earth. Just imagine their awe.
The awe of the beautiful and distant Earth was captured in Apollo 8’s famous photo of Earthrise over the lunar horizon. In contrast, the surface of the moon below appeared terrifying, bleak, and lifeless to the astronauts – an Earth before creation.
The largest television audience in American history watched the live lunar images from Apollo 8 on Christmas Eve 1968. This was one of those shared experiences so common in our nation’s past, but so rare in our modern world of fractured information and culture. Few unifying events as joyous as Apollo 8 would follow and we are worse off from the loss.
Something else extraordinary happened that Christmas Eve. As our nation gathered around Christmas trees and bulky televisions beaming close-up video of the moon, the three astronauts took turns speaking to the world.
William Anders started.
“For all the people on Earth the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.”
Jim Lovell continued, reading the first book of Genesis:
“And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.”
Then Frank Borman:
“And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called the Seas: and God saw that it was good.”
“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.”
Never before had man so vividly understood how good and perfectly designed for human life Earth was. Never before had creation been described by men so competent to describe it. Read the rest of this entry »
The Earth is peppered by meteorites all the time. This is how you can find one on your own.
1969 Neil Armstrongs’ moon suit
Clips of astronauts falling on the moon. Video created by Joel Ivy. To let all those who are asking know, the music was one of the tracks on youtube’s audio list for videos. It’s by musicshake and the title of it in the list was “Game – Rise of the Loner Spacer/Fall of E.I.M.” I hope you enjoy. The Apollo program was a great program. Apollo 10 and 17 astronaut said he “felt like he was standing on God’s front porch”, and that “There’s too much purpose, too much logic, it was too beautiful to happen by accident. There has to be somebody bigger than you and bigger than me”.
This clip is raw from Camera E-8 on the launch umbilical tower/mobile launch program of Apollo 11, July 16, 1969.
On Friday, much of the world will have the opportunity to observe a Blue Moon: A somewhat rare occurrence that doesn’t have anything to do with the moon’s color.
During most years, the Earth experiences 12 full moons, one in each month. But some years, such as 2015, have 13 full moons, and one of those “extra” lunar displays gets the label of Blue Moon.
“The full moon appears to last for at least the length of one night, but technically speaking, it is an instantaneous event: It occurs when the sun, Earth and moon fall close to a straight line. It takes place at the same instant everywhere in the world, whether the moon is above or below the horizon.”
The lunar or synodic month (full moon to full moon) averages 29.530589 days, which is shorter than every calendar month in the year except for February. Those extra one-half or one-and-one-half days accumulate over the year, causing some years to have 13 full moons rather than 12.
To see what I mean, here is a list of full-moon dates in 2015: Jan. 5, Feb. 3, March 5, April 4, May 4, June 2, July 2, July 31, Aug. 29, Sept. 28, Oct. 27, Nov. 25 and Dec. 25. In 2016, the first full moon falls on Jan. 23, and each calendar month has only one full moon.
The expression “once in a blue moon” has a long history of being used to describe rare events; but it was also used in the Maine Farmers’ Almanac to describe the third full moon in a season that has four (normally, a three-month season will only have three full moons).
In 1946, Sky & Telescope magazine published an article that misinterpreted the older definition, defining a Blue Moon as the second full moon in a calendar month. This has become the most recent and perhaps most widely accepted definition of a Blue Moon. And hence, the full moon on July 31 is referred to as a Blue Moon, because it was preceded by the full moon on July 2. By this definition, a Blue Moon occurs roughly once every 2.7 years. Read the rest of this entry »
A new documentary about astronaut Gene Cernan is far more than the story of one person’s life
Jeffrey Kluger writes: Real astronauts never say goodbye. At least, not the way you’d think they would before they take off on a mission that could very well kill them. They’re good at the quick wave, the hat tip, the catch-you-on-the-flip-side wink. But the real goodbye—the if I don’t come home here are all the things I always wanted to say to you sort of thing? Not a chance.
“You’re almost too young to know what it means to have your Daddy go to the moon. But one day, you’ll have the feeling of excitement and pride Mommy and Daddy do.”
But Gene Cernan, commander of Apollo 17, tried to split the difference—as a scene in the new documentary The Last Man on the Moon, sweetly captures. Before Cernan headed off for his first trip to the moon, the Apollo 10 orbital mission, which was the final dress rehearsal for the Apollo 11 landing a few months later, he mailed his young daughter Tracy a letter. It was written on the fragile onion skin that was air mail stationery, back in the era when the very idea of air mail carried a whiff of exotic distance.
“Punk, we have lots of camping and horseback riding to do when I get back. I want you to look at the moon, because when you are reading this, Daddy is almost there.”
Cernan was a young man when he wrote the letter in 1969, and is a much older man, at 81, when he returns to it in the film. “You’re almost too young to know what it means to have your Daddy go to the moon,” he reads aloud, “But one day, you’ll have the feeling of excitement and pride Mommy and Daddy do. Punk, we have lots of camping and horseback riding to do when I get back. I want you to look at the moon, because when you are reading this, Daddy is almost there.” If the Navy pilot who once landed jets on carrier decks and twice went to the moon mists up as he reads, if his voice quavers a bit, well what of it?
As the title of the movie makes clear, Cernan was the last of the dozen men who set foot on the moon, and the 24 overall who journeyed there. No human being has traveled further into space than low-Earth orbit since Cernan climbed up the ladder of his lunar module in December of 1972, closed the hatch and headed for home. That makes it a very good time for a movie that can serve as equal parts biography, reminiscence and, yes, cultural reprimand for a nation that did a great thing once and has spent a whole lot of time since trying to summon the resolve, the discipline and the political maturity to do something similar again.
“That story, as Cernan and Craig came to agree, would be about the lunar program as a whole and the up-from-the-farm narrative of so many of the men who flew in it, as well as the random currents of fortune that saw some those men make it from terrestrial soil to lunar soil, while others perished in the violent machines that were necessary for them to make those journeys.”
The Last Man on the Moon, which premiered at Austin’s South by Southwest festival in March and was later shown at the Toronto Film Festival, had a long provenance, beginning eight years ago when director Mark Craig, who had read Cernan’s book, requested an interview. Cernan agreed and six months later Craig got back in touch and said he wanted to make a movie based on his memoir.
“My first answer was, ‘Who would be interested in a movie about me?’” Cernan tells TIME. The answer he got impressed him: “This movie is not going to be about you.” It was, instead, going to be about the larger story. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Meet キロボ Kirobo: The First Companion Robot to Go to Space Returns to Earth After 18-Month JourneyPosted: April 2, 2015
After a 18-month mission aboard the International Space Station, the tiny Japanese robot Kirobo returned to Earth on February 2015. During a press conference, organizers celebrated the successful project.
Narrated by Tim Allen (voice of Buzz Lightyear), this is a complete behind-the-scenes feature on the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE, the largest incentivized prize in history. Adapted from the award-winning digital planetarium show, the 24-minute movie chronicles 18 teams from around the world looking to make history by landing a privately funded robotic spacecraft on the Moon. This global competition is designed to spark imagination and inspire a renewed commitment to space exploration, not by governments or countries – but by the citizens of the world. Learn more
Dave Scott (left) and Neil Armstrong breathe the fresh air of Earth as the hatches of Gemini VIII are opened after splashdown. Photo Credit: NASA
Ben Evans writes: Gemini VIII astronauts Neil Armstrong and Dave Scott accomplished a key goal in America’s bid to land a man on the Moon by successfully rendezvousing and docking with an unmanned Agena target vehicle in Earth orbit. As noted in part 1 AmericaSpace article, it was the first time that a manned vehicle had achieved physical contact with another target in space. However, the situation aboard Gemini VIII was far from perfect. A distinct lack of available tracking stations across the flight path had already resulted in decidedly “spotty” communications with the Mission Operations Control Room (MOCR) in Houston, Texas.
“We have serious problems here. We’re tumbling, end over end. We’re disengaged from the Agena.”
— Dave Scott
In fact, only two ship-based stations were supporting the flight, the Rose Knot Victor and the Coastal Sentry Quebec, together with a land site in Hawaii. Shortly before one loss of contact, at around 6:35 p.m. EST on 16 March 1966, Capcom Jim Lovell radioed the Gemini VIII crew. If problems arose, he told them, they should immediately deactivate the Agena with Command 400 and assume manual control with the Gemini. It was a standard call. Lovell could hardly have imagined that a potential disaster would soon engulf the mission.
Half an hour after docking with the Agena, Dave Scott instructed the target to roll them 90 degrees, and Neil Armstrong, in the commander’s seat, told Lovell that it had “gone quite well.” The call came a few seconds before Gemini VIII passed out of radio contact with the ground. Alone, the astronauts electronically activated the Agena’s tape recorder. Shortly thereafter, their attitude indicator showed that they were in an unexpected, and almost imperceptible, roll of about 30 degrees.
“Neil,” called Scott, “we’re in a bank.” Were the Agena’s attitude controls misbehaving? Or was it a problem with the target vehicle’s software? Certainly, Gemini VIII’s own thrusters were now switched off and the assumption could safely be made that the Agena was at fault. What they did not know was that one of their thrusters—the No. 8 thruster—had short-circuited and stuck into its “on” position. Unaware, Scott cut off the Agena’s thrusters, whilst Armstrong reactivated the Gemini’s thrusters in an attempt to stop the roll and bring the combination under control.
For a few minutes, his effort succeeded.
Gradually, the craft stabilized. Then, as Armstrong started to reorient them into their correct position, the unwanted motions resumed … albeit much faster than before and along all three axes. Perplexed, the men jiggled the Agena’s control switches, then those of the Gemini, on and off, in a fruitless attempt to isolate the problem. Glancing at his instrument panel, Scott noticed that their craft’s attitude propellant had dropped to just 30 percent. At this stage, it dawned on the astronauts that the fault was with their craft. “We had to disengage from the Agena,” Scott later wrote in his memoir, Two Sides of the Moon, “and quickly.”
“Television stations began interrupting their programmes—Batman and, ironically, Lost in Space—to provide live coverage. Original plans had called for Gemini VIII to splash down in the Atlantic and be recovered by the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Boxer, but the emergency guided them instead to a point in the western Pacific, 500 miles east of Okinawa.“
This posed its own problems, since both craft were rapidly rotating and could hit each other. Quickly, Scott set the Agena’s recording devices to allow flight controllers to remotely command it; a crucial step, since, after undocking, the target would otherwise be dead. “No one would ever know what the problem had been or how to fix it,” he wrote. His prompt action saved the Agena and preserved it not only for subsequent investigations, but also for a remarkable “double rendezvous” on the Gemini X mission in July. Read the rest of this entry »
From a great tumblr site, spaceexp: This chart provides a comparison of the distances driven by various wheeled vehicles on the surface of Mars and Earth’s moon. Of the vehicles shown, NASA’s Mars rovers Opportunity and Curiosity are still active and the totals listed are distances driven as of July 28, 2014. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Bill Whittle: It’s Been 45 Years Since Man Walked on the Moon for the First Time. Have We Been Challenged Since?Posted: July 20, 2014
Its been 45 years since man walked on the moon for the first time. Have we been challenged since? Or are we a windless sail, full of potentital without a direct challenge? We tamed a continent, we conquered the skies, and we did fly to the moon–don’t let us, as a people, only have political discussion as our challenge.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 21, 2014
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) July 15, 2014
Written, Presented, Filmed, & Edited by: Brittan Kirk
Filmed with: Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera (BMPCC)
Discovery and Science Channels are headed to the moon.
The sibling cable networks have signed on to chronicle the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition for privately funded teams to land an unmanned craft on the moon by Dec. 31, 2015.
Lesley Goldberg writes: The networks will chronicle the historic race with a miniseries event that follows teams from around the world as they race to complete the requirements for the grand prize: landing a craft on the surface of the moon, traveling 500 meters and transmitting live pictures and video back to Earth.
Science and Discovery will follow the entire process — from testing and lift-off to live coverage of the winning lunar landing, estimated to take place in 2015.
“The $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE offers all the ingredients of fantastic television; stakes, competition, big characters and mind-blowing visuals.
Show-Off Asteroid’s Celestial Smack-Down: Record-Breaking Meteorite Crash on Moon Sparks Brightest Lunar Explosion EverPosted: February 26, 2014
“At that moment I realized that I had seen a very rare and extraordinary event”
Video footage of the record-breaking meteorite strike on the moon, which occurred on Sept. 11, 2013 and was unveiled today (Feb. 24), shows a long flash that was almost as bright as the North Star Polaris. That means the boulder-sized meteorite’s lunar crash could have been visible to anyone on Earth who happened to be staring up at the moon at 8:07 p.m. GMT, weather permitting.
“At that moment I realized that I had seen a very rare and extraordinary event,” Jose Madiedo, a professor at the University of Huelva, said in a statement. Madiedo witnessed the collision using two moon-watching telescopes in the south of Spain that are part of the Moon Impacts Detection and Analysis System, or MIDAS observatory.
Bunny Reboots: China Space Fans Cheer as Jade Rabbit Moon Rover Awakens, Tweets, Rolls Back into ActionPosted: February 13, 2014
“It’s alive!! The rabbit is still alive!! The rabbit’s awake!! It’s really awake!!”
wrote one user on weibo.
“Wake up darling baby…Billions of people are calling out to you!”
What, pray tell, were they speaking to? China’s Moon rover, of course.
The Jade Rabbit, named after the mythical pet of China’s Moon goddess, has captured the attention of millions in China.
The six-wheeled exploration vehicle is equipped with cutting-edge radars that allow it to study the Moon’s crust. Multiple cameras on the rover’s exterior allow it to photograph its surroundings and beam them back to Earth.
Sarah Knapton writes: No human has set foot on the Moon for nearly four decades.
But Earth will have a colony there within the next 30 to 40 years, one of the International Space Station’s most respected astronauts has claimed.
Commander Chris Hadfield, who captured the public’s imagination by tweeting thousands of pictures from space and recording David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity‘ at zero gravity, has predicted that a lunar base will be fully functional within his lifetime.
And within the next 70 years, he believes we could establish a base on Mars.
Commander Hadfield, 54, believes both goals are the next logical steps in human exploration.
“It’s a pattern we have been following for the last 70,000 years. We gradually made our way around the world. In the last 100 years we have got to Antarctica and now there are people who live there for months at a time.
“I think within my lifetime we will see a permanent lunar base. Setting up a permanent habitation on the Moon will help make space exploration better.”
China’s first lunar rover separates from Chang’e-3 moon lander early Dec. 15, 2013. Screenshot taken from the screen of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing. Credit: Xinhua/post processing by Marco Di Lorenzo/Ken Kremer
China’s first ever lunar rover rolled majestically onto the Moon’s soil on Sunday, Dec. 15, barely seven hours after the Chang’e-3 mothership touched down atop the lava filled plains of the Bay of Rainbows.
Check out the gallery of stunning photos and videos herein from China’s newest space spectacular atop stark lunar terrain.
The six wheeled ‘Yutu’, or Jade Rabbit, rover drove straight off a pair of ramps at 4:35 a.m. Beijing local time and sped right into the history books as it left a noticeably deep pair of tire tracks behind in the loose lunar dirt.
China’s first lunar rover separates from Chang’e-3 moon lander early Dec. 15, 2013. Screenshot taken from the screen of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing. Credit: CCTV
The stunning feat was broadcast on China’s state run CCTV using images transmitted to Earth from cameras mounted on the Chang’e-3 lander and aimed directly at the rear of the departing moon buggy.
Watch this YouTube video from CCTV showing the separation of ‘Yutu’ from the lander:
In total, the Apollo program resulted in 12 spaceflights and 12 astronauts who walked on the moon. The program developed as a result of President John F. Kennedy challenging the nation, in 1961, to land on the moon by the end on the decade.
I’ve been saying it since at least 2005, when I wrote on my blog:
More than once, the thought has occurred to me: “Man, it would be cool if there was a webcam on the Moon.” I mean, seriously, put an iSight up there, and rig it with some sort of long-distance Internet connection, and it could broadcast a live picture of the Earth, as seen from the lunar surface, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. How cool would that be?
I tweeted about it in 2010:
— Brendan Loy (@brendanloy)
And again last August:
— Brendan Loy (@brendanloy)
And last month:
— Brendan Loy (@brendanloy)
Well, guess what? IT’S ACTUALLY HAPPENING!!!
A telescope that is set to launch to the moon in 2015 will allow the public to go on the Internet and view the Earth from the lunar surface.
The privately funded telescope, known as the International Lunar Observatory precursor (ILO-X), was designed and built by Silicon Valley-based Moon Express Inc. …
“We want to win the Google Lunar X prize so that is somewhat driving our schedule,” Richards said, adding his customers want Moon Express to land on the moon before the end of 2015.
“So I would say sometime in mid-to-late 2015 is when we’d be looking at.”
Let me be the first to say: OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG!!!!!!
[Moon Express CEO Bob Richards] said the shoebox-sized telescope will allow people to see images they’ve never seen before because they will be taken from the lunar surface.
“Depending on where you are on the Earth you may be seeing the moon up in the sky, taking a picture of you, which would be kind of a heady thing to think of,” he added.
Richards pointed out that people on Earth will even be able to manoeuvre the telescope by remote control, giving them out-of-this-world access to galaxies, stars and planets.
“The other thing that you’ll be able to do is turn the telescope down to the lunar landscape and take pictures of the landscape that’s around the (Moon Express) lander.”
Yes, well, that’s all well and good, but as Nathan Wurtzel tweeted in response to one of my prior #PutAWebcamOnTheMoon tweets: “And we’ll check back on the mooncam…still nothing happened. This marks the 8278th day nothing has happened.” Heh. As Nathan suggests, the view of the lunar surface isn’t going to be the most, uh, dynamic aspect of this. The view of Earth is where the real appeal lies.
More specifically, the view of Earth during lunar eclipses is the holy grail. Because, of course, what we call a “lunar eclipse” is, from the Moon’s perspective, a solar eclipse — with the earth’s atmosphere refracting the Sun’s light and forming a “ring of fire” around our planet.
It must be an incredible sight. But it’s one that nobody has ever seen in the history of mankind.
NASA made Hana Gartstein’s artist’s conception of a lunar eclipse from the lunar perspective its “Astronomy Picture of the Day” in 2007 — that’s the image at the top of this post — and NASA also published, in 2003, a fictional account of a lunar colonist watching an eclipse live from the Moon in 2105:
For the next hour he patiently waited, watching the sun’s disk glide behind something big and dark: Earth. From the moon, Earth looked three and a half times wider than the sun. Sometimes Earth was amazingly bright, blue and cloudy-white. Today, though, the planet’s night side was facing moonward.
Finally, the sun vanished. This is what he had been waiting for…. Lit from behind, Earth’s atmosphere began to glow around the edges, ringing the dark planet with all the colors of a sunset. And from there sprung the Sun’s corona: pale white, sticking out like Jack’s sister’s hair when she rubbed her stockinged feet on the carpet back in the lunar habitat.
Jack cleared his visor to enjoy the view.
The ground around him wasn’t bright any more. It was dim and deep red—aglow with sunlight filtered through the edge of Earth’s atmosphere. All at once every sunset on Earth was shining down on Jack.
I want to see that on a webcam, dammit. And, if the Moon Express project succeeds, we will — soon. They’re targeting “mid-to-late 2015.” Well, there will be a total lunar eclipse on April 4, 2015, and another on September 28, 2015.
So, Mr. Richards, there’s your deadline. Get this webcam on the Moon by September 28, 2015. And do the other things.