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Apollo 17 at Shorty Crater (nasa.gov)
36 points by harold on June 25, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 46 comments

Quote:"Now thirty five years later, Cernan and Schmitt are still the last to walk on the Moon."

That page was last updated in December of 2007, so add another four years.

How many people in this forum can truthfully say this sentence: "Man has not walked on the moon in my lifetime."

Say it again. Say it again. Say it again until righteous rage makes you want to spit on all of the bureaucrats, activists, and other parasites who clipped humanity's wings.

Repeat after me: "Man has not walked on the moon in my lifetime."

Personally I'd rather take heart looking at the private-industry space vehicles getting off the ground - if humans do avoid blowing ourselves up and make it to the stars, the ability to do it profitably and sustainably will be much more significant than hooning around in a government-run rover again.

"righteous rage" is a little much.

Absolutely, what we need to solve all humanity's problems is more moon rock. If only we had enough moon rocks, things would be just so much better. Why can't the paper pushers and beureaucrats just get with the program and give us our moon rocks?

How much moon rock do you think we need? A dozen tons? A hundred tons? Wow, imagine what we could achieve with a hundred tons of moon rock. Why, the sky's the limit!

Which pressing need of humanity for moon rocks do you think we should tackle first?

Do you really think the reason we have not returned is because the resources were diverted to solve "humanities problems"?

They were diverted to solve some problems faced by some humans. Problems that would not have been solved otherwise.

Yeah. Imagine the same kind of thinking many many years ago: why would we play with fire—it burns! Why should we leave the cave? Why should we sail the seas?

Why shouldn't I wear my pants on my head and run down the street naked? Maybe I'll start a new trend.

Note that I'm not against us going to the moon. The fact is we've done it. So now if we're going to do it again, all I ask is for an actual reason to do so.

If it turned out that fire had no actual useful applications and was just horrifically dangerous, we would perhaps have experimented with it briefly and then forgot about it. We wouldn't still be habitually setting everything around us on fire, just because. It turned out that fire did have many useful practical applications though.

You're really missing the point of going to the moon really, really hard.

Which was to get to the Moon before the Soviets?

Can it be a coincidence that the moon rock-poor USSR collapsed while the moon rock-rich USA is now the world's only real superpower?

OK, so maybe I'm pushing this a bit...

The original point was competing with the Soviets and generating national pride, sure. The point now would be to get practice with the harder problems of survival in space, as a trial run for the marathon that is going to Mars. Every time we as a nation do something that seems audacious, we raise the morale of the nation and energize the populace to work harder on pretty much everything else. We could certainly use a shot of national pride to the arm after the events of the past decade...

USSR was not moon rock-poor, it had a reasonable amount of moon rock extracted by automatic space craft (more precisely, space craft not inhabited by humans). The point of reaching the Moon is different, it's to spark the imagination and inspire. And one of the reasons the USSR collapsed is, btw, the ideas it was based on were not inspiring any longer (an understatement!)

USA: 382 kg USSR: 0.32 kg Recovered from meteorites: 48 kg

But that's from Wikipedia, so you can add a few grains of salt to those figures.

One of the main reasons the moon missions were cut short is because the public lost interest, just as they did with the Space Shuttle. The inspiration argument only gets you so far, and we've been that far already.

We should return to the moon because people want to go.

Is any additional reason really needed?

Actually you're right. That's a perfectly good and reasonable point. If people want to go to the moon, they should be at liberty to do so. If you want to help them, perhaps you could donate money to the cause. Heck, let's make it tax deductible.

Just checking though - you're not suggesting using any of my money, or other taxpayer's money to send them, right? Because if so, we're back to needing one of those good old fashioned actual reasons again.

You're right, what we need is weaponry. Lots of it. To solve problems.

It's also fun to remember that all of the Apollo moon landings took place during just a 3.5 year period in the middle of the Nixon administration.

I can recommend some books about the era that are very good reading.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Last-Man-Moon-Astronaut/dp/0312199... written by Eugene Cernan (the last man on the moon)

http://www.amazon.com/Flight-My-Life-Mission-Control/dp/0452... written by and about mission control

http://www.amazon.com/First-Man-Life-Neil-Armstrong/dp/B001O... about Armstrong but representative of many astronauts (and the only book Armstrong cooperated with)

http://www.amazon.com/Two-Sides-Moon-Story-Space/dp/03123086... about the US and Soviet perspectives written as a collaboration between an astronaut and cosmonaut

Current era:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0393339912 This one is also a good read which roughly summarises our current knowledge about having people live for over a year in space (how long it would take to get to Mars). (Spoiler: not much)

Nice list. I add "Failure Is Not An Option" by Gene Kranz, flight director on both Apollo 11 and 13 and also in flight control from way back to the Mercury program.

It's a nice history of manned space flight from the controllers' perspective. Very interesting, especially from a general engineering point of view.


I'd also recommend reading "Carrying the Fire" by Michael Collins, it's probably my favourite book written by a Gemini/Apollo astronaut

Spit on bureaucrats? You sound arrogant. Sorry but they had bigger issues than catering to your lame childhood wishes. I recommend you go live in an Indian slum for a few years to realign your selfish priorities.

The fact that humanity has not reached a uniformly high standard of living doesn't at all mean that we shouldn't keep expending extraordinary effort and resources to keep the frontier of science moving forward. On the contrary, advances of science will make it easier to raise the baseline standard of living.

I am so glad our bureaucrats are hard at work fixing those Indian slums. Had we not ended manned moon missions, there might still be people living in poverty today!

Well, they have in my lifetime... but at bordering 42 I'm higher than the average here. Still, I was too young to remember it which is about the same.

"Humans have not walked on the Moon in my lifetime." I remember being really disappointed as a little kid when I first learned we hadn't yet gone anywhere farther away than the Moon. I want to go to other planets and explore them when I grow up.

I remember the Apollo 11 landing and the missions preceding it. They were incredibly inspirational to me.

That being said, without coupling space exploration with proper funding of the America's public educational system, K through PhD, NASA should be a small fraction of the National Endowment for the Arts budget.

I look on this as another example of the miraculous leap the moon program was. Being so far before it's time, it was miraculous but doomed nonetheless.

You can't commercialise something that was only affordable because two countries were trying to out-cold-war each other.

Now, I hope and believe, we can.

The moon isn't very impressive at this point. Apollo 11 was 43 years ago. I'm mildly annoyed that humans haven't walked on Mars in my lifetime yet.

In not quite 70 years we went from being very earth bound, to walking on the moon. As such I'm far more disappointed by the extremely modest space flight progress of the last 43 years (particularly given the radical advancements of other helpful technologies).

gravity is a hard thing to overcome and replicate

Due to SpaceX and Elon Musk alone I think we're going to see mankind set foot on Mars in our lifetime.

That photograph of them on the edge of the crater is wonderfully dramatic. Makes me wonder what instructions they had, precautions they took, preparations they made to make sure they didn't tumble in accidentally.

This is a beautiful image, but I think the colours are a bit off. There's some vertical red banding especially on the left of the image that I can't un-see. I emailed the person who made these about this once, and he mentioned he had a slight colour-blindness.

I know there's some colour on the moon, but I don't think it's as much as this image suggests.

Not to feed the conspiracy nuts...but why are the shadows on the left and right of the shot being cast in different directions?

Well, it's a panorama. If the light source (sun) is located in the 'missing' portion of the panorama, then you would expect the different shadows on either side of the missing bit. This is consistent with the apparent shadow under the buggy.

Here's a terrestrial example of the madness that happens to shadows (and geometry in general)with panoramas. It's partly less obvious on the moon since it lacks familiar references.


Great reference shot. Thanks.

Because its a panorama taken of multiple shots that span a very wide area of whole scene, almost making the resulting shot a 360° view.

Many features in moon photographs are bizarre, I don't blame the nuts too much...

In this crop from a panorama, for example, the rover seems completely out of proportion, like a miniature: http://cl.ly/3M0v0S3R2M2N3h180Q1W

Compare the size of the footprint and the stones in the left side, to the stones near the rover. Either the moon has some weird rock distributions, the image is highly deformed, or this is a fake :) The fact that for multiple generations we haven't been up there again just contributes to the idea.

That photo is obviously a composite of multiple shots. You see strange deformations like that all the time in composite shots.

If we apply Occam's razor, the simplest explanation is that they went to the moon. Over 350,000 people were involved at a total cost of $140 billion of todays dollars. I've never heard anyone deny that we had the capability to land on the moon. The rockets, vehicles and astronauts were all real. The evidence is too monumental. For the moon landings to be a hoax, it would require everything that it takes to complete the mission and an extra group of people to do all the work of faking it.

Agreed. People seem to overestimate the power of the government to fake things. If it was that easy to pull off a hoax of that magnitude, it is quite likely that WMDs would have been "found" in Iraq after the invasion.

A few factors contribute to that photo's impression. Aside from being a composite:

- There's no atmosphere on the moon. Which means there's no distance haze. Far objects are just as sharp as near ones.

- There are no reference points to indicate scale. This is fairly common in terrestrial photos of barren landscapes, especially Alpine, Arctic, or glacial photos. In this image of a Pakistani landslide, note the apparently diminuitive size of the earth moving equipment and background figures: http://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/files/2012/04/12_04-Siach...

Agreed, but the rocks should serve as a good enough reference. The effect on that moon shot would require rock sizes to increase almost linearly with distance - rocks are a foot wide near the camera but half-meter wide afar - which is extremely odd.

(of course I believe that to be an artifact of image stitching and perspective corrections, what I meant is that it's easy to misinterpret these oddities)

Rock sizes follow a regular distribution of some sort, most likely a power function / Poisson distribution. So, nearby, you'll have a lot of smaller rocks, further away you'll have a reasonable number of larger ones. For moderate-field views (such as the image shown) this may not show much difference.

Other factors of the moon: there's no weathering action, absent meteor impacts and very slow microparticle weathering, but this is taking place over hundreds of millions to billions of years. Where rocks of different sizes on earth will weather quickly (tens to millions of years depending on rain, freeze/thaw, wind, organic (lichen, bacteria) actions, etc.), this doesn't happen on the moon.

Upshot: near small rocks look very much like far large rocks.

And again, in alpine or desert landscapes without notable organic features (plants, animals) or human structures (roads, buildings), it can be very, very difficult to estimate range.

Most of the pictures are taken with a lot of light (flashlight?) coming out of the camera direction. This picture for example shows it very clear: http://astropedia.astrogeology.usgs.gov/alfresco/d/d/workspa...

So there is light from the sun, camera and even earth maybe.

"This sharp panorama is digitally stitched together from pictures taken by Cernan as he and Schmitt roamed the valley floor."

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