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Fresh images from NASA’s moon orbiter offer peak into America’s great era of discovery

22 Jul

“Dad?”

NASA LROC image

Apollo 11 landing site, NASA LROC image

4 year old Bridger’s voice was quiet.  I could tell we were about to have a memorable discussion, so I turned down the car stereo.

“You know what’s funny about the moon?  It goes wherever we go.  It’s following us.”

“Why do you think that is, pal?” I asked.

“Because Jesus is driving the moon, I think,” he said.  “I’d like to go to the moon someday.”

When I mentioned that man had already walked on the moon, he was overwhelmed.  The boy is nearly 8 now, and we still love to lay on the grass at night and look up at the sky.

I wasn’t around when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took those first historic steps on the lunar surface.  But growing up, we had an astronomy fanatic neighbor with a massive telescope.  Mike Eaton hauled that thing out onto the lawn, it seems, on every clear night of the year.

I did a lot of looking at the moon up close, hoping somehow to get a glimpse of one of the Apollo landing sites and that American Flag that Neil and Buzz planted there.  My obsession with space and the future waned somewhat as the years passed.  But as I became more curious about the past, my thoughts periodically returned to those lunar landing sites.

Well, on July 17, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, returned the first semi-clear photos of those sites.  They’re all amazing, but my favorite is the photo of the Apollo 14 landing site.  Visible are the Lunar Module (LM), a scientific instrument package, and most amazingly– the astronaut footpath between the two.  According to NASA, the lighting conditions for this shot were “particularly desirable.”

NASA LROC image

Apollo 14 landing site, NASA LROC image

The 40 year anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon walk kinda snuck up on me.  Sadly, media coverage– outside of the History and Discovery channels– was lacking, and frankly the American public at general didn’t seem too interested.  That’s sad.  There was some programming on the History Channel that we DVR-ed and will watch with the boys when we get a chance.  I’m particulary excited for Bridger to see it.

Almost nothing personifies the classic American hardiness and spirit of discovery like that first lunar landing.  I hope that spirit remains in us today.

Check out NASA’s page dedicated to that first moon landing here.

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Posted by on July 22, 2009 in History, Random Musings

 

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