Sunday, July 19, 2009

Walking on the Lunar Diamond

If you're following along on Twitter, you'd have seen that I'm pretty excited about the 40th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing that's going on right now. NASA is rightfully making a big deal about this, releasing some amazing new videos and pictures of the event. There's also a fantastic effort going on over at the We Choose the Moon website, where they are re-living the entire mission in real time, including audio and some fancy graphics.

Well, as of right now, we are now less than 24 hours away from the moon landing, and I'm too excited not to post something really cool. So, even though the astronauts were on the moon for over six-and-a-half hours before they actually opened the doors and stepped onto the surface (meaning we're still 30 hours away from that happening), I thought the image below was more than appropriate:
What you're seeing there is a map of the lunar excursion of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, superimposed on a baseball diamond. Click on the image for a much higher resolution. Their spacecraft - the famous Eagle in "The Eagle has landed" - is shown on the pitcher's mound. The yellow lines show just how far Buzz and Neil actually walked in their two-and-a-half hours on the surface.

Seeing it on top of a baseball diamond really gives you a good sense of just how limited their activity really was. And look towards the third base line, about where a too-hard bunt might be fielded by the pitcher or third baseman: that's where they planted the American flag. It's no wonder the flag fell over when they blasted off again. That excursion by Armstrong into shallow centerfield must have felt like he was going out into no-man's land, even though he was barely 150 feet from the lander.

Of course, later Apollo missions went much, much farther away from the lunar lander (with the "moon buggy" driving the astronauts miles on the moon). Apollo 11's job, though, was just to show that landing and walking on the moon was even possible. There was no need to complicate it further with excessive time on the surface. Still, there's no doubt that Armstrong and Aldrin's walk on the moon has captivated our imaginations for decades. I love, then, how this image gives us a new view on that famous stroll.

I'll be back early tomorrow with more on the moon landing and baseball. In the meantime, I think everyone should be following along with the We Choose the Moon project. It's fascinating stuff.


runescape gold said...

I hope Buzz isn't losing his mind. The whole space program is a boondoggle and has to be scrapped. It is 100% useless and a waste of taxpayers' money.
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Paul said...

Wow - I don't know who spambot, I mean, runescape gold is, but I strenuously disagree. The space program is a vital source of national pride that is an inspiration to countless Americans and others worldwide. It's a great testament to human ingenuity and proof of our limitless potential.