Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Some fun facts.

  • If you took all the molecules in one cubic centimeter of the Moon's atmosphere, they would all fit inside the period at the end of this sentence. If you did the same with Earth's atmosphere, they would stretch to the Moon and back, two and a half times.
  • The Russian newspaper Pravda referred to Neil Armstrong as the "Czar" of Apollo 11. Michael Collins thought this was funny and for the rest of the mission, he called Armstrong by this moniker.
  • What's rarer than a blue moon? A month with no moon at all! The last time this happened was February of 1999. It only happened four times in the 20th Century, and it will only happen four times in the 21st Century: in 2018, 2037, 2067, and 2094. It can, of course, only happen in February.

Fun Facts:

In Jules Verne's "From the Earth to the Moon", he predicted the following:

  • The United States would launch the first vehicle to circumnavigate the Moon.
  • The cost of the program would be $5,446,675 US dollars in 1865. This was equivalent to $12 billion US dollars in 1969. Apollo cost $14 billion dollars up to the Apollo 8 circumnavigation mission.
  • When Verne's character writes to the astronomers to ask what velocity is needed to launch a rocketship to the moon, they reply, "12,000 yards per second." In fact, escape velocity (the speed needed to travel beyond Earth orbit) is 12,320 yards per second.
  • Verne's circumlunar spacecraft would have a crew of three. The names of the crew were Ardan, Barbicane, and Nicholl. Anders, Borman and Lovell were the actual Apollo 8 crewmen.
  • Verne's circumlunar spacecraft was built of aluminum and weighed 20,000 pounds. Apollo 8 was primary fabricated from aluminum and weighed 26,000 pounds.
  • In "From the Earth to the Moon", 12 launch sites are considered for the mission before Florida is chosen due to its equatorial proximity. NASA considered 7 launch sites before settling on Florida, due to its equatorial proximity.
  • Verne's spacecraft launched in December from 27° 7´North, 082° 9´West and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, where it was recovered by the United States Navy vessel "Susquehanna."
  • Apollo 8 launched in December from 28° 27´North, 080° 36´West and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, where it was recovered by the United States Navy vessel "Hornet."

And finally, for the love of all that is holy, the Great Wall of China IS NOT "the only manmade object visible from space." In fact, the Great Wall is so narrow it is extremely difficult to view from space. However, as any fan of astronaut photography (none of which, incidentally, is copyrighted. Print and frame away! Your tax dollars paid for it, after all.) knows, many objects like streets, sports stadiums, the Pyramids, the Eiffel Tower, and even homes and sometimes cars are visible from low-Earth orbit such as that of the ISS and Space Shuttle.

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