It’s that time of the year again when people can’t really believe how much has passed since we’ve landed a man on the moon. We can now honestly wish an honest Happy 46th for the Apollo 11 mission.
It’s been 46 long years since the Apollo mission was launched from the 39A Launch Complex of the NASA Kennedy Space Flight Center. But, as many have pointed out, back in July 16th, 1969, things looked pretty different for humanity. First of all – we had no idea what the Moon actually was. We had no clue what it was made of. We had no clue how it got there. And we were consistently baffled when asked why we why is it so big in comparison to the Earth, when other moons are much smaller compared with their respective planets.
To be frank, we still don’t know the answer to the last questions. But what the astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin (and their pilot, Michael Collins) brought back was more than a little interesting, and helped us figure out at least clues about the Moon.
We now know that the Moon is geologically pretty much the same as Earth – as in it has layers: the crust, the mantle, the nucleus. These layers are much more dried than those of Earth, and are very poor in elements, with no iron whatsoever being present on the moon.
Another discovery was equally important: the astronauts found very, very fain traces of water. Wait, there’s water on the moon? Yes, extremely little amounts of water molecules here and there. Not even the scientists back in ’69 believed it, and thought that the water they found was just contamination that had occurred after they had been brought back to Earth.
The astronauts landed on a space of the Moon which has come to be known as the Sea of Tranquility because of its smooth surface. There, they planted the U.S.A. flag. Not many know, but there was actually a grand debate prior to the launch as to what the flag should be: the UN flag, since the three were sols of all humanity, or the USA flag, since it was entirely an American project.
The decision taken was that it should be the American flag, together with a plaque with the UN symbol. Before the launch, protesters tried to boycott the project by putting a UN flag instead of the American flag, yet they were stopped.
Yet, the strangest discovery that made headlines back in ’69 was, oddly, that there was no life on the Moon. Not even the smallest microbial life. For our first landing on a celestial body outside of the Earth, we really got pretty excited.
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