Bang! Zoom! To the Moon!
As so many others have mentioned, it is the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 program and the first human to walk on the Moon. Unfortunately, the original, high-quality tapes of the Moon landing seem to have been lost. Overwritten with new data during lean times when magnetic storage tapes were hard to come by. It’s a small consolation that NASA is working hard on finding the best available footage of the Moon landing and have hired experts on video restoration to clean it up as much as possible. Already, they’ve released a partially cleaned up copy of the video. A more complete copy is expected in September.
In addition, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter just sent back photos of some of the Apollo landing sites. The resolution isn’t perfect, so the details are grainy, but they are there. The LRO should be able to send back some higher resolution shots when it gets into its ideal orbit.
Of course, all of this isn’t going to be enough for the Moon hoaxers out there. Sadly, there are all too many people who think that the Moon landings were a hoax. Ignoring all science and evidence to the contrary, they insist that the Moon landing was actually filmed Hollywood-style on a soundstage. A thorough debunking of their claims is too in-depth for this posting (I’d recommend reading the Bad Astronomy website and seeing the Mythbuster’s Emmy nominated Moon Hoax episode), but suffice it to say that their claims do not survive scrutiny. 40 years ago, man actually walked on the Moon. Neil Armstrong pushed his boots down onto the Moon’s surface and left footprints that will (thanks to the Moon’s nearly-nonexistant atmosphere) last for hundreds of years.
The space program used to inspire our children to become scientists and engineers. Nowadays, kids yawn when presented with people going into space. Is it a coincidence that we’re dropping behind in science scores in school? Here’s hoping that NASA gets the funding (and the management organization) to do some truly dazzling things in space. We’re scheduled to head back to the Moon in 2020 and I’ve been told that it will take that long to do it right, but I’d love to see it happen sooner. Since the last Apollo mission was Apollo 17 in December of 1972, we haven’t gone to the Moon in my lifetime. We haven’t even gone beyond Low Earth Orbit with anything other than robots. Don’t get me wrong, robots are cool and all, but you still can’t beat the thrill of knowing that there’s an actual human walking around up there. My only consolation is that, by the time the next Moon mission rolls around, NHL will be 17 and JSL will be 13. That will be prime “influencing their future careers” time.
So here’s thanking those who bravely went where no man went before, those who followed them, and those who are working hard to ensure that we return there. We may have gotten side tracked along the way, but I hope that we will soon be watching images broadcast from almost 239,600 miles away as men (and women!) walk on the moon again.