Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Different Moon

You're looking at a piece of the Moon. This is a different piece than the one I showed you before. This one was at the Smithsonian Air And Space Museum in Washington, DC. Same deal as the one at KSC though, it's glued down pretty tight and you can barely touch it behind all the plexiglass, but you can touch it. I bring you this just so I can link to some incredible pictures that NASA just released. I've had people ask me before why they can't see the Apollo landing sites on the Moon from Earth-based or space-based telescopes (such as Hubble). (For one thing, Hubble can't focus in on objects that close, but that's another story. Nope, I'm wrong!) Well, the largest object mankind left on the moon was the lunar lander, which is about 12 feet in diameter. Spotting something that small from the Earth would be like trying to tell if the dime you dropped at the summit of Everest landed heads up or tails up, only you're looking back after you've made it home to Florida. It's just too small at too great a distance. Well, guess what? NASA recently launched a new probe to the moon to take some high-resolution surveys for a possible future moon mission. And what have they taken pictures of? Five of the six moon landing spots, that's what, and you can just barely make out the fact that there's something there. The probe is about 70 miles above the lunar surface, and the lunar landers make up about 4 pixels in the pictures. But what really stand out are the shadows being cast when the sun is low on the horizon. The shadows make up many more pixels, and stand out much more sharply. In fact, one site, shot at just the right time of day with near-perfect lighting conditions actually revealed trails blazed by the astronauts as they went back and forth performing experiments. It's only a matter of time before we get some really startling images of these landing sites, proving to all the doubters once and for all that Man has set foot on the Moon. And in fact, he left an awful lot of junk laying around up there. Shame, that

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