Thursday, September 12, 2019

Anniversaries of space exploration

Armstrong, Collins & Aldrin - Photo NASA
Fifty years after the arrival of man on the Moon, a couple of European sexagenarians remember the first landing:
“Do you know what day is today?”
“Saturday, why?”
“I mean the date.”
“July 20th 2019, what about it?”
“Exactly fifty years ago, man reached the Moon.”
“Oh yeah! But wait, there is something wrong here, didn’t they arrive on the twenty-first?”
"No, it was the twentieth, but it took them over six hours to get down from the capsule. By then, in Europe it was the twenty-first, but in the United States it was still the twentieth.”
“True! I remember it well. I saw it on TV. I was ten years old.”
“Me too.”
“The image was blurred.”
“Yes, in black and white.”
“By then, few people had color TV.”
“Even if one of your friends had, I don’t think a ten years old would be allowed to go watch TV somewhere else at four in the morning.”
“Do you want to hear my secret?”
“I do.”
“That night I didn’t get up at four. I slept the whole night and didn’t see it until the morning. They gave it again.”
“Do you want to hear my secret?”
“Of course.”
“The same happened to me.”
Laughter. A little later, the husband says:
Image of the Mars surface taken by Viking-1
“By the way, the descent of Neil Armstrong and Mike Collins on the Moon is not the only anniversary celebrated today. It’s also the 43rd anniversary of the day when the Viking 1 capsule landed on Mars.”
“True, I knew it. But that wasn’t the first ship that landed on Mars, right?”
“No, the first one was Russian, the Mars 3 capsule, four years before.”
“Hey, do you think NASA chose the date knowingly, to make it the same as the anniversary of the arrival to the Moon?”
“I have no idea, but I wouldn’t be surprised.”
During the six Apollo expeditions that landed on the Moon, the astronauts collected Moon rocks; took many photographs; carried out experiments, such as exploding charges and detecting their seismic effects; and installed instruments, which sent data to Earth until 1977, when the program was canceled by NASA.
Some of the data then obtained are still pending of research. The problem is, in 50 years, some of the data has been lost, or it’s necessary to find old magnetic tapes and interpret their content. As a result of this research, a mysterious warming of the Moon subsoil between 1971 and 1977 has been detected. It’s attributed to human action: when walking on the Moon, the footsteps of the astronauts would have removed the ground, which appears darker than the surrounding areas, and therefore absorbs more sunlight and causes a temperature increase of two or three degrees in the surface, which is then partially transmitted to the subsoil. It’s curious that the presence of man on the Moon has caused a climate change there, even though quite localized and very small.

The same post in Spanish
Thematic Thread on Space Exploration: Previous Next
Manuel Alfonseca
Adapted from my novel The Mystery of the Haunted House

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