ELAPSED TIME 109:24:15. ONE GIANT LEAP.
MOONWALK TIME! We’re going to collect Kuiper’s weight in Moon rocks, deploy an American flag and answer a phone call from the Oval Room. But that’s not all! We’re also going to set up some heckin’ science experiments! And we only have 2.5 hours to do EVERYTHING. Go go go!
SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS INCLUDE
Laser ranging retroreflectors (STILL WORKING!) These are kind of like the reflectors on your car on steroids. We can fire A GIANT LASER at them from here on Earth and measure how long it takes for the beam to bounce back. Since we already know the speed of light, we can use that measurement to calculate exactly how far the Moon is from the Earth at any given time.
From the data we’ve gathered so far, we’ve learned that the Moon is trying to make a quick getaway from us to the tune of around 1.5 inches a year! Apache Point Observatory is still making measurements off the lunar retroreflectors. Their little “laser pointer” is 11.5 feet (3.5 m) wide. I hope we get to see it someday!
In addition to the laser reflectors, we set up a big aluminum foil sheet to capture particles of the solar wind. 🌬️ We’ll pack this one up and bring it home for later analysis.
We also set up seismometers to detect moonquakes and meteoroid hits, which give us much more insight into the Moon’s interior. The Apollo 11 seismometers will only give us 3 weeks worth of data, but we’ll deploy fancier ones on future Apollo missions. We’ll also intentionally crash some stuff into the moon later on to help calibrate them. FOR SCIENCE!
Let’s see… We have a Lunar Dust Detector experiment, which will study how the efficiency of solar panels degrades over time due to radiation, temperature fluctuations and, well, dust. And lastly, the footprint!
Yes! Buzz Aldrin’s famous footprint was a science experiment, too! He didn’t take that picture for posterity, but rather geology! Buzz took close-up pictures of the Moon’s surface and how it looked when it was disturbed as part of the Soil Mechanics experiment!
Whew! Tomorrow we being the Long Road Home.
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