Amazing Moon facts most earthlings don’t know 48 years after first arrival

Only 20 seconds of fuel left before touchdown

The Moon is bigger than Pluto

Forty-eight years ago, on July 16th, 1969, the Apollo 11 spacecraft carried Neil Armstrong, commander, Michael Collins, command module pilot, and Edwin ” Buzz” Aldrin towards the first ever human moon landing.

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Liftoff occurred at 9:37 a.m. and with 7.5 million pounds of thrust from a Saturn V rocket. Within 12 minutes the astronauts were 120 miles above earth speeding at 17,400 mph. It would take four days before the module “Eagle” separated from Apollo 11 to being a touchdown. Collins piloted the spacecraft as Armstrong and Aldrin took the module to the Moon.

Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins and Buzz Aldrin with the Saturn V rocket that would take them to the moon in the background, Cape Canaveral, Florida. (NASA)

Armstrong noticed that their initial landing site was a crater with boulders. He maneuvered the Eagle around to a smooth landing in a suitable spot. The module landed with only 20 seconds of fuel left.  Millions on earth cheered when they heard “the Eagle has landed” on the live television broadcast.

When the landing was complete, the astronauts made sure everything was in place for lift off back to Apollo 11 before they went onto the moon. After they had readied themselves, Armstrong went out first.  He released the ladder that would take him to the bottom and to the final step of putting a man on the moon. After 21.5 hours on the moon they reconnected with the spacecraft and returned safely to earth on July 24th.

Here are some facts about Moon, missions to the Moon, and other planet’s moons you may not know about:

–Armstrong first stepped on the Moon with his left foot.

–The multi-layer space suits worn by the Armstrong and Aldrin weighed 180 pounds on earth. They weighed thirty pounds on the Moon due to the lower gravity.

— Armstrong and Aldrin left behind more than a U.S. flag on the Moon. Other relics included an olive branch-shaped gold pin, messages from 73 world leaders, a patch from the Apollo 1 mission that, during a training exercise, combusted and killed three American astronauts, and medals in honor of two of the first Soviet astronauts who had died in flight.

Apollo 11 crew, 1969. (NASA)

–When the Apollo 12 astronauts landed on the Moon, the impact caused the Moon’s surface to vibrate for 55 minutes.

–About 56 hours into the 1970 Apollo Lunar Mission number 13, the crew heard a big bang. “Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem” came through to NASA Mission Control. The oxygen vent was not working. Although it was not immediately realized, this would cause the mission to be aborted. The astronauts were force to seek refuge in the lunar module. Gene Krantz’s, “Failure is not an option” resulted in his team determining that the fans on Oxygen 2 caused an electrical short circuit and the insulation around the fan motor had caught fire. This ruptured the oxygen tank. The escaping oxygen blew an access panel off, which in turn struck the high gain antenna and also damaged Tank One.

An interesting fact is that Apollo 13, left the launch pad at 13:13 (CST) hours military time and the accident occurred on April 13.

 “Failure is not an option” –Gene Krantz

–When walking on the moon, astronaut Alan Sheppard hit a golf ball that went 2,400 feet, nearly one-half a mile.

–Dr. Eugene Shoemaker, a Geological Surveyor, who educated the Apollo mission astronauts about craters, never made it into space himself, but it had always been one of his dreams. He was rejected as an astronaut because of medical problems. After he died, his ashes were placed on board the Lunar Prospector spacecraft on January 6, 1999, which was crashed into a crater on the moon on July 31, 1999. The mission was to discover if there was water on the moon at the time, but it also served to fulfill Dr Shoemaker’s last wish.

Footprint on the Moon.

–The footprints left by the Apollo astronauts will not erode as they would on Earth since there is no wind or water on the Moon. Unless they were blown away by the modules lifting off to return to the spacecrafts, they should last at least 10 million years.

–Flying once around the moon is the equivalent of a round trip from New York to London. (Earth is about four times the size of the moon.)

–The Apollo missions returned 2196 rock samples, weighing 842.166 lbs. in total.

–The average desktop computer contains 5-10 times more computing power than was used to land a man on the moon.

–If the moon were placed on the surface of the continental United States, it would extend from San Francisco to Cleveland (2,600 miles)

“Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem”–Apollo 13

–The moon is bigger than Pluto.

–The last man to fly in space alone was not Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper, but Apollo 17 command module pilot Ron Evans, who circled the Moon alone while astronauts Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt went to the surface.

How the Moon’s size compares to the United States. (NL)

–The Moon drifts away from earth about 1.5 inches each year. Today, the Moon is about 280,000 miles from Earth; when it first formed, researchers estimate that it was just 14,000 miles away from Earth

–Only 59% of the Moon’s surface is visible from earth. About 49 moons could fit in a hollow earth.

–The Moon rotates at 10 miles per hour compared to the earth’s rotation of 1000 miles per hour.

–If all of your body’s molecules of DNA (the chemical which makes up your genes) were stretched out, they would reach to the Moon and back 3,000 times.

–February 1865 is the only month in recorded history to have had no full moon. Either January or March will have two moons.

–Some astronauts have suffered from an illness called lunar lung caused by breathing in moon dust.

There is no sound on the Moon.

–The sky always looks black on the moon. Because the Moon doesn’t have an atmosphere like Earth’s, the light coming from the sun doesn’t pass through the many molecules that make our sky appear blue.

–There is no sound on the Moon. Sound needs atoms to travel through. With a lack of atmosphere, the surface is nearly a vacuum.

–It would take 26 days for a commercial airplane to reach the moon. At the speed of a normal flight on a Boeing 747, which is about 400 miles per hour, it would take nearly a month to get to the moon.

Apollo 11 liftoff. (NASA)

–The surface speed record on the Moon is 10.56 miles per hour. It was set in an Apollo lunar rover. Apollo 15 was the first mission to use a lunar rover.

–Mars’ moons are shaped like potatoes.

–Pele, the largest volcano on Jupiter’s moon, Io, erupts to heights 30 times that of Mount Everest. Gas and the other products of the eruption fall over an area the size of France.

–Enceladus, a moon of the planet Saturn, has ice volcanoes that erupt water.

–When the Moon is directly overhead, you weigh slightly less than at all other times, because of the effect of its gravity.

–It takes 1.25 seconds for light, reflected by the Moon to reach Earth.

–NASA intends to build a ‘town’ on the Moon before the year 2030.

–The last time a human stepped on the Moon was in December 1972.



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