Sky Crew: Memories of Apollo 11, and the Journey Beyond

Jul 16, 2019

Fifty years ago, the Apollo 11 team travelled farther than humans had ever been before, using technology less sophisticated than the average smartphone. Our Sky Crew recalls the launch of Apollo 11, and some of N.H.'s connections to the Apollo voyage in the summer of 1969. They also consider NASA missions today, including efforts to return humans to the Moon and Mars.

GUESTS:

  • Mal Cameron - former astronomy and space educator at the McAuliffe Shepard Discovery Center and coordinator of its NASA Educator Resource Center.
  • John Gianforte –astronomy instructor and UNH Observatory Director; co-founder of the "Astronomical Society" of northern New England.
  • Nicole Gugliucci -Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Saint Anselm College.

 On July 20,The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord will celebrate the 50th anniversary of humanity's giant leap, expect many Moon-related activities and the unveiling of the "To The Moon" exhibit!   The UNH Observatory will be hosting a public observing session on Saturday, July 20, from 9-11pm, with plenty of moon-related activities as well as telescope identification of some of the lunar landing locations.  

Apollo 11 bootprint.
Credit Wikimedia
 

Transcript:

This is a computer generated transcript, and may contain errors.

 

Laura Knoy:
From New Hampshire Public Radio, I'm Laura Knoy and this is The Exchange.

Laura Knoy:
Fifty years ago this week, much of the world's population watched as a team of American astronauts blasted off from Earth and headed for the moon. The Apollo 11 mission left on July 16th, 1969, and landed on the lunar surface on July 20th.

Historic Audio:
One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.

Laura Knoy:
Now a half century later, this achievement is being remembered and celebrated, including among Granite Staters sharing their stories, their memories of that amazing week. Today, in exchange, our Sky crew is back for a special Apollo 11 edition of our program. And later, an update on future moon missions, including one just Saturn's largest moon, Titan. Let's hear from you. What's gone through your mind with all the attention on this fiftieth anniversary? What questions do you have about Apollo 11 or on missions that might follow in our e-mail exchange at an HP board? Once again, exchange at an HP board. Use Facebook or Twitter at an HP exchange or give us a call 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7.

Laura Knoy:
Our guests are Mal Cameron, retired astronomy and space educator at the McAuliffe Shepard Discovery Center in Concord. Mal, Welcome back. It's great to see you.

Mal Cameron:
Great to be here.

Laura Knoy:
Also with us, Nicole Gugliucci, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at St. Anselm College. Nicole, welcome back. Good to see you.

Nicole Gugliucci:
Good to see you, too.

Laura Knoy:
And also with us, John Gianforte. Astronomy instructor and U.N. H. Observatory director, also co-founder of the Astronomical Society of Northern New England. And John, welcome back. Good to see you as well.

John Gianforte:
Great to be here.

Laura Knoy:
Well, John, where were you 50 years ago this week?

John Gianforte:
I was in my living room watching TV like everybody else TV. I got to stay up late and listen to the Eagle has landed report from the moon surface watching the moonwalk, which actually happened earlier than everybody thought it was going to happen. And it was just unbelievable of that, watching it like everybody else on a small black and white television, just watching every moment. Even at that age, even that long ago, something that was very hard to believe that was actually taking place. I just get excited all over again, thinking about way back when that happened and where I was in my life at that time. So.

Laura Knoy:
What do you remember about.

Mal Cameron:
Well, I'm kind of withdrawn. I was in our living room watching our black and white TV set and this was the year I graduated from college, actually. And that summer was fine. It was a Sunday night or was around eleven o'clock at night when they actually stepped off onto the surface. And I remember sitting and watching my black and white TV and and it was a picture window off of our living room looking outside and I turned around and looked and there was the moon in the sky.

Laura Knoy:
Oh, wow. That's really cool.

Mal Cameron:
I was trying to combine those two and realize what I'm looking at on television is what I'm seeing in the sky. That's where they are.

Laura Knoy:
Well, that's neat. It's hard to wrap your head around that.

John Gianforte:
That's a neat memory.

Mal Cameron:
But if I may jump ahead to 2006. Just the way circumstances worked, I was I felt very fortunate. I was at a conference in Houston, Texas, in February of that year for another mission that we were talking about. But Houston is the repository for things that come in from space and mainly the moon rocks are stored there. And I had the privilege of being part of a group that they picked out to go into the moon rock vault, putting on the big bunny suits, we call them, for protection. And standing in front of the container that had all those rocks from Apollo 11 and standing there reminded me of sitting back there in 1969 watching that happen. And it was a very emotional experience.

Laura Knoy:
Nicole, you weren't born yet, but what does this fiftieth anniversary mean to you?

Nicole Gugliucci:
Yeah, for me, it's slightly frustrating because I wasn't born yet. And I feel like I missed one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century and we haven't been back in my lifetime. For me, the closest I have to this is when I was turning 16. My answer got me a trip to the Kennedy Space Center for my birthday and I had never been on a plane before. So it was a big deal for me to like make that long trip and the Apollo Saturn 5 exhibit. I don't know how it's changed since then, but you walk in and it's all dark and they show you this video of of the launch and, you know, Armstrong's first steps. And I sat there and I cried like it was really happening, like it was so emotional for me. And so it's frustrating that, you know, we haven't been back because it is such a cool thing. And it was such a huge technological and I don't know what to call it, but an achievement involving so many people coordinating together.

Laura Knoy:
Yeah, well, it's interesting to hear all of you just talk about, you know, definitely We'll talk about the technical achievement and but also that it's a moment of all almost to see another heavenly body and to, as you said, Mal, imagine human feet on that heavenly body. I want to play a clip from a documentary that an age PBS did. This is an interview with Alan Shepard. As we know, he went up there and orbited the earth and then 10 years later actually went to the moon himself. And here he is reflecting on what it was like to be on the moon, to look back at the opposite view that you mentioned. Now, to see Earth, by the way. This clip includes both Shepard talking and old audio of his moon visit. Let's hear.

Historic Audio:
Of course, the first feeling was one of a tremendous sense of accomplishment right now being reported on board.

Historic Audio:
And I'll never forget that moment.

Historic Audio:
You're going right over there to look up in the black sky, totally black sky. Another sun is shining on the surface. It's not reflective. There's no diffusion, no reflection. Totally black sky and seeing another planet, planet Earth, a planet Earth is only four times as large as the moon. So you can really still put your thumb and your finger around at that instant. So it makes it look beautiful. It makes it look lonely. It makes it look fragile.

Laura Knoy:
Again, that's astronaut Alan Shepard of Derry, New Hampshire, reflecting in a documentary produced by NH. PBS John Gianforte. Lots of reflections like that. like we all heard like what all of you shared? Lots of coverage to this past week. What stands out for you, John? From all the coverage that's been done, there've been a lot of little. I didn't know that. And, gee, I never realized that included in the coverage that we've seen this week.

John Gianforte:
Well, there's been a lot of radio, there's been a lot of television. And even in the newspapers have covered reminiscing of the technological achievements, the cultural impact that the Apollo program, not just the landings, but the previous Apollo missions, for example, Apollo 8, which was the first spacecraft, human spacecraft to leave the gravitational pull of the Earth. And that involved a reading from the Bible on Christmas Eve. And probably one of the most significant photographic images of the 20th century was the horizon of the moon with the earth blue earth rising above the moon. It was a consciousness changing image that showed the fragility, just like Alan Shepard spoke about, about, wow, there it is against the blackness of space. The place where everybody lives is just a small little blue marble. And that was probably in even the Apollo astronauts will say that has got to be the photograph of the of the century. So it had a lot of impact because humans did it. But it brought the world together for a while during the first moon landing, like nobody could believe that people were actually walking on the surface.

John Gianforte:
And unfortunately, some people still don't believe we actually did it. But the.

Laura Knoy:
Conspiracy theories and it was all. Yes, Hollywood fake.

John Gianforte:
Right. But, you know, there's 842 pounds of moon rocks in the vault that Mal mentioned. So we have lots of evidence. When other countries spacecraft fly over the Apollo landing sites, they can see the footprints. They can see the rover, the lunar rover tracks, they can see the descent module. They can see the experiments that were run. So you don't have to believe you can just use these images of the moon of the things that were left behind.

Laura Knoy:
So that's interesting. So the footprints are still there. They haven't been blown away by lunar winds, John.

John Gianforte:
No, no lunar winds there. They're all still there. There's no wind on the moon because there's no atmosphere. They're going to they're going to be on the moon for a really long time until small meteorites that land on the moon's surface marr them.

John Gianforte:
But that's going to be for, you know, several million years at least.

Laura Knoy:
What jumps out for you, Mal, from all the coverage that's gone on this week?

Mal Cameron:
Well, I always like to learn new things and some of the series they've been running like PBS. The thing about Chasing the Moon, which was a lot of footage that I'd never seen before and I learned a lot about through other sources about the rocket itself that I didn't realize before, ah, I probably knew it, but never quite connected it. The idea that the Saturn 5 rocket, 363 feet tall when it's assembled was all hand built by people doing just building the condenser and checking them out, all of the circuitry and so on. The circuitry was such that it was so it was UN material that had in the Limb especially that it had to be woven like a fabric that had a little magnetic spots here in there that would bring it together to create a circuit. And that was people sitting down and actually weaving these things. And each piece was responsible from different like the first stage was built by side. I think it was Boeing. And then there was a Grumman had a part one. Another company built the second stage and the third company built the third stage. And the remarkable thing was they all came together and they fit perfectly and made this big rocket who was just remarkable.

Laura Knoy:
That is amazing. Different people doing it by hand from different companies coming together. Any one little mess up. And the result could not have been as momentous as it was.

Mal Cameron:
But that's the same thing that applies today, even to robotic robotic spacecraft. Different pieces are built at different places around the world these days. Some are built overseas and someone builds the antenna and then someone does another part of it and they all come together and fit together perfectly.

Laura Knoy:
Let's go to our listeners, all of you, and then we'll talk a lot more again today in exchange. It's a special Apollo 11 edition of our regular program with our Sky crew. As you no doubt have heard this week, a half century ago, the nation watched as three astronauts blasted off from Earth toward the moon. We're reflecting on that. And a little bit later in the program, we'll talk about future moon missions, not just to our own moon, but there's one planned to travel to Saturn's largest moon, an enticing moon called Titan that has some intriguing elements to it. We're taking your questions and comments on this fiftieth anniversary, 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7 is our number. Our email is exchange at an HP port org and calling in from Franklin Pierce University. Ella is on the line. Hi, Ella. Go ahead. You're on the air.

Caller:
Hi. Hi, everyone. I just had a question about your thoughts on Space X exploring commercial spaceflight.

Laura Knoy:
And how and your reflections since you're from Franklin Pierce University, Ella, going to assume you weren't born when the moon landing happened. Any reflections on your end? Not about the moon landing its fiftieth anniversary.

Caller:
Oh, well, I obviously wasn't alive during the time, but I definitely was very inspired by the whole project. And I thought it was very impressive what NASA was able to accomplish.

Laura Knoy:
Thank you, Ella, for the call. And Nicole, I'm going to turn to you first of all, she mentioned something that Mal mentioned, that private companies, many hands have been involved in these enormous projects.

Nicole Gugliucci:
Yes. So a lot of these you know, I've seen a lot of these contracts went out, although it was directed by NASA, went out to private companies. There's interesting challenges when you start to talk about how the commercialization of space is evolving now. And I think we've talked about this a couple different times, but there are specific outer space treaties that say that, you know, land on the moon and ever wells in the solar system is considered. Correct me if I'm wrong. International territory. Kind of like international waters. And there is no there is not yet any mechanism for for. Regulating what happens when private companies try out. So all of these laws are created that the time that nation states were going.

Laura Knoy:
Really interesting Nicole.

Nicole Gugliucci:
But we don't know how that's gonna work out with private companies. Can they claim land? How can they sell land? What what is you know. Can they mind resources and all of that? So there's actually a lot of legal and sociological hurdles that we have to get through. If we're going to take that commercialization of trips to the moon seriously.

Laura Knoy:
Wow. So we have national law, international law and maybe interstellar interstellar law. Mind this plot of the moon. And who can mind that quantum moon? Very interesting, John. I can see one jumping. Go ahead.

John Gianforte:
Well, I think that's a great point to bring up that we haven't we we've always had international treaties that have kind of prevented ownership, you know, planting your flag. And I own this asteroid. But with companies, I assume, as Nicole said, that that brings a whole new round of legal discussions that have to be had before anything is defined.

John Gianforte:
But I think what will happen is the countries will overrule any corporate rights that they think they might have, at least preliminary, when things as things are right now in this early stage. But I mean, you know, Elon Musk wants to go to Mars. He's going to send people to the moon, although they're just going to loop around the moon and not land. It's not too far off when we're gonna have to seriously consider that.

Laura Knoy:
Ella, thank you very much for the call. And up next is Richard in Hopkinton. Go ahead, Richard. You're on the air.

Caller:
Hi, this is Richard.

Caller:
And I was just thinking about the program and the Apollo program is very much a part of family lore.

Caller:
Here in rural Hopkinton. My wife's father worked.

Caller:
At MIT and MIT to head to the contract for guidance system. Of the Apollo program. So we have all sorts of cool pictures and autographs and so forth and so on from the very people with the entire program, not just Apollo 11.

Laura Knoy:
Well, I'm glad you called, Richard, because one of the thing that's been fun for me to read with all the coverage. And anybody can jump in is lots of New Hampshire connections. The high tech companies in this area, M.I.T. obviously being pretty close by. So anybody want to jump in with New Hampshire connections to this Apollo 11 program?

Mal Cameron:
There's someone I can't remember in Concord who made particular wafers. There was a silicon about if I was in the paper the other day and I think was Spaulding Electric. That's all right. Some something like that. And they made a wafer that contain that they left on the moon that contained messages from all the important people in the world at the time. The pope had a message on there. I know. And those other leaders of countries who sent messages that was embedded on the silicon wafer that they left on the surface of the moon,.

Laura Knoy:
Just in case some other being happened to stop on the moon for a refuel stop.

Mal Cameron:
And found this little something to read.

Laura Knoy:
We will talk a lot more about Apollo 11. Thank you for those memories, Richard.

Laura Knoy:
This is The Exchange on NH PR

Laura Knoy:
This is The Exchange. I'm Laura Knoy. Today, our astronomy crew is here with a special Apollo 11 edition of our show. We're looking back at that first moon mission, which happened 50 years ago this week. And we'd love to hear your memories and your questions. So calling 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7, send email to exchange at an HP board or you can use Facebook or Twitter at an HP exchange. One more time. That number 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7. Our guests are Mal Cameron, retired astronomy and space educator at the McAuliffe Shepard Discovery Center in Concord. John Gianforte, astronomy instructor and U.N. H. Observatory director, also co-founder of the Astronomical Society of Northern New England. And Nicole Gugliucci, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at St. Anselm College. And Nicole, how did the students you work with today feel about this anniversary? View this anniversary. What do you talk about when you present this to them? Yeah.

Nicole Gugliucci:
So we are in a I'm in a similar boat with my students and that this was always a part of our history. You know, since we were born, you humans have been on the moon for our entire lives or had been on the moon. Dawn our entire lives. So I don't have as much of the historical perspective to share with them. But I do like to talk about it and how it's still inspiring today and how, you know, I'm still inspired by it, how I was still inspired by it as a child.

Nicole Gugliucci:
And.

Nicole Gugliucci:
And sorry, I lost my train of thought.

Laura Knoy:
That's OK. They are younger, you're in the same boat right then. But you try to pull out the inspiration. Does it feel musty to them? I mean, that old footage. The audio's not very good.

Nicole Gugliucci:
Probably does. It probably does. Okay. Now, remember, I was going on one of my students who is very interested in it. They were in a physics astronomy major, but they they loved talking about it. And I remember them coming to me because they were dismayed that their younger sibling was all about like the moon landing conspiracy. Oh, so there's like a new generation because that was big in like the 90s. Right. When far I think Fox had it on TV. There's a new generation watching these conspiracy theories on YouTube and getting into it. And it's because we are more far removed from it in time. The conspiracy theory, I think that makes it seem more plausible. So even if so, where? So we're still battling the conspiracy theory and we have a new generation to talk about that with. Two to show that Myth Busters episode too.

Laura Knoy:
All right. Well, we've been hearing from our listeners as well. It's been great to hear your reflections and your memories and your questions. Steve from Nottingham writes The moon landing stands as a positive flashback memory. I was on the San Juan Islands off the state of Washington when it happened. The church bells rang. We saw them on the moon on small screen TV, on a ferryboat as we left this planet for the first time. Great memories, Steve. Thank you for that. Laura from Chester writes, The moon landing was 50 years ago and that was a national sensation. Now we getting pictures of black holes and getting emotionally attached to Mars Rovers. Laura from Chester asks, Where do you think the future of space technology will take us? And Laura, promise we will get to that question. But a couple more questions about Apollo 11 and then we will look ahead to return to the moon, because that's what NASA is planning to do. And also a mission to Titan, Saturn's intriguing moon. So, Laura, promise we'll get to that. But Mal Why was it so important for the U.S. to get to the moon anyway? Put this in the bigger context of the time. You know, late 60s, early 70s. What's going on and why? How does the moon factor into that?

Mal Cameron:
Well, the entire space race started with Sputnik and the Russians, the USSR at the time and had the advantage and sent more things into orbit before we did. And it was the whole race. And I just remember my thought when I watched the landing on the moon was one of the first thoughts I remember was, oh, yeah, we beat the Russians. And I think that was the crux of everything, even looking at some of the material I found of it. They even played some of this, I believe on Chasing the Moon was a quote from Kennedy who said, I really don't care much about the moon. We just wanted to stay ahead of the USSR.

Laura Knoy:
Wow. Really? That's not very inspiring.

Mal Cameron:
I know.

Laura Knoy:
I mean, it is, but not in a sort of gee whiz, wow way.

Mal Cameron:
I think they won him back because just a couple of weeks before he he died, he was at Kennedy Space Center and not named Kennedy Space Center at the time, of course. Right. But he was down in Florida and and got a demonstration of some of the engine firings and stuff for them for the Saturn 5 that they were working on at the time. Factor may have been Marshall Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. But he was so enthralled with that. I think that won him over as to what was really going on. I say important it was. I think for the rest of us, it was the idea that here's something really, really hard that as Kennedy put it and we were able to do this within the timeframe that he specified.

Laura Knoy:
So it began as almost a political goal to show dominance and power, but ended up being, you know, a moment of technological wonder, accomplishment, unity and so forth.

Mal Cameron:
I just want to add to to go to your previous question to Nicole. Yes, we actually did go to the moon.

Mal Cameron:
There's no doubt about it.

Mal Cameron:
And there was one of the astronauts thinking it might have been Buzz Aldrin, but someone said, well, OK, if this whole thing was fake, we have all these people that are in on the joke, so to speak, that are producing this and sending up publicity to make it look real. And it was all for naught. Just nobody really went to the moon. Then why did we repeat it six more times? Why would it be?

Laura Knoy:
No, a lot of money and effort to support a conspiracy theory as we talk about the times and you mentioned the Soviet Union and the Cold War and the space race and so forth. Something else that was going on, as you all know, is the Vietnam War. And how did John sort of the missions to the moon fit into that very fraught political time over Vietnam and U.S. involvement there.

John Gianforte:
Well, it helped redeem America in the eyes of the world that we were just this big bully messing around in in Asia. It gave us it for a a time, a time, maybe a couple of years. But but especially around the Apollo 11 landing and in the future landings, a sense of unity, cultural unity that everyone was watching or many people were watching. And that was huge unifying event that we could really use more of now.

Laura Knoy:
Well, you hear a little hint of that in this next clip that I want to play. As we said, on July 20th, 1969, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin became the first man on the moon and they received a telephone call from President Nixon. The clip we're going to play starts with mission control.

Laura Knoy:
Let's hear.

Historic Audio:
Now the president of the United States is in his office now. And we'd like to hear it. There are over.

I'm go ahead, mister president.

Historic Audio:
Hello Neil and Buzz, I'm talking to you by telephone from the White House.

Historic Audio:
And it certainly has to be the most historic telephone call ever made from the White House. I just can't tell you how proud we are. I'll talk to you about everything that has to be the proudest of our lives. And for people all over the world, I am sure that they too join with Americans in recognizing what an immense sense, because what you have. done, the heavens have become a part of man's world? And as you talk to us from the scene of tranquility inspires us to govern our efforts to bring peace and tranquility again.

Laura Knoy:
President Nixon talking to those first astronauts who walked on the moon 50 years ago this week. Today, The Exchange. Our astronomy crew is here with a special Apollo 11 edition of our show. We've been hearing your memories, too, of that week or your questions about it if you were not alive at that time. Join us at 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7. Send us an email exchange at an HP morgue. Once again, exchange at an HP morgue. B.J. e-mails. I was in college 50 years ago, enrolled at a summer geologic field camp. We were excited to see what the composition of the moon rocks would be. Students from all over met in Rapid City to start the caravan to Montana with a field campus located. So I was in a hotel in Rapid City, South Dakota, the night the eagle landed. I especially remember it because I turned 20 years old the next day, July 21st, Wild Beach. That's great. B.J. says that means this Sunday I turned 70 years old. The years have flown by. B.J. says, I'd love to be turning 20 again. B.J., thank you so much. I love that because B.J. remembers exactly where, what, how. That's great. We also got a reflection from Rich in Mount Vernon. Since staying up way past my bedtime as an 11 year old to watch the moon landing, I have been enthralled by the space program. Rich says I attribute my young interest in this to my career decision to become an engineer. We did it, Rich says. That said, I think future manned space exploration is foolish, unnecessarily dangerous, dangerous and costly, and not much more than a PR stunt. With today's technology, we can do anything with robotics and remote sensing that can be done by humans. Rovers on Mars don't have the pizzazz as humans, but make much more sense. Wow. Rich, thank you so much. This gets us into Nicole when hear from everybody. The Trump Administration wants to go back to the moon, not with a rover. Sorry, Rich, but with real people. How come?

Nicole Gugliucci:
So I don't know why. Honestly, I feel it. And I actually had this discussion on another radio show.

Laura Knoy:
To Rich's point about why other we can just do it with rovers. This is an ongoing debate. Rich, thank you so much for bringing it up.

Nicole Gugliucci:
So, yeah, absolutely.

Nicole Gugliucci:
Most of the science can be done robotically. What can't be done is that, again, the inspirational part of having humans on another world, on another body. What you can't have is eventual colonization. If you're just sending robots and people want to establish colonies on the moon, on Mars and asteroids, all of that stuff.

Laura Knoy:
Okay. Can I just say I have zero interest in doing that? Personally, no. It's not about me.

John Gianforte:
We can sweeten the deal.

Laura Knoy:
Uh-Uh. I like breathing air.

Nicole Gugliucci:
Yeah, sounds a little scary, but that is the goal.

Nicole Gugliucci:
And and also having of having a rover in the field, particularly one where there's a delay in communication, is not nearly as efficient as a human geology.

Laura Knoy:
And coming back and saying this is what I saw.

Nicole Gugliucci:
Right. Right. So. Yeah. So that you can do the science. It's hard to say more efficiently because a human works faster, but a human also needs all that air and food. So there are a lot more expensive so send.

Laura Knoy:
All those safety measures. Yeah. Yeah. We Lose a rover. We lose the rover.

Nicole Gugliucci:
So my my frustration with the administration saying we're going back to the moon ties into what I was saying earlier, like I haven't seen us leave low earth orbit in my lifetime. Every time there's a new presidential administration, they change the direction and they change the focus, because before the moon, it was asteroids. And where the asteroids. It was Mars. And we haven't done any of it. These projects are going to take so much longer than any one presidential administration. I'd if we keep changing direction every four to eight years. I don't see any long term projects coming out of that. They've got to be something more really unifying.

Laura Knoy:
That's really interesting. And you're right. Every time a new administration comes in, it has a different priority for space. John, you jump in real quick on this.

John Gianforte:
That's the problem with the if the American way of doing things right. We live in a democracy. We vote who into office, people who we think are going to do the best job. They don't always agree on what the space programs mission should be. But that ends up costing more time and more money because we do it in fits and starts pivoting back and forth, right? Nicole said so. You know, the only time we spend a lot of money willingly is when some other country takes a big leap. Oh, my gosh. We got to catch up. We gotta catch up. And we end up spending a lot more money, more money than we would have if we had a slow and steady pace to reach a goal like we had.

Laura Knoy:
So when China went to Mars. We would, you know, darn well put on the thrusters and go to Mars.

John Gianforte:
Right. And put it put the pedal to the metal, catch up and beat them.

Laura Knoy:
Well, coming up, we'll talk about efforts to return to the moon, also to explore other moons as well. We mentioned Titan earlier. This is The Exchange on NHK PR.

Laura Knoy:
This is The Exchange I'm Laura Knoy today. Our astronomy crew is here and we've been reflecting on the fiftieth anniversary of Apollo 11 and those first steps on the lunar surface. We're talking now about future moon missions to our own moon and an intriguing moon of Saturn as well. And we've been hearing from you your memories and questions and comments are great. Join us at 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7. Or email us exchange at an HP Ya dot org. And Mal Cameron. Just before the break, we were talking about the effort by the Trump administration to return to the moon, establish some kind of a base there, and then jump from there to Mars. What's this mission called? What's the goal?

Mal Cameron:
The program is called Artemus and it's named Artemus because in Greek mythology, Artemus was the twin sister of Apollo. And also for another reason, we have a female figure there because the trip back to the moon, the first trip. Anyway, back to the moon is going to feature these two astronauts. One is going to be the first female astronaut to go to the moon. So that that's pretty cool right there. But they're also going to be heading nearer toward the South Pole of the moon and look around because the poles of the moon are because of the way the moon orbits never get any sunshine. And we've already proved for the orbiting spacecraft around the moon that in those deep, dark craters there is water, ice.

John Gianforte:
And that's an important find if we can verify that even up close, because you can land there. The ice in the water can be broken down. Component lead to hydrogen and oxygen and you can make fuel out of it. You can drink it if you need to. And all kinds of great possibilities. But the idea is to eventually set up a little moon colony. The goals are to establish a presence on the moon by a permanent presence by 2028. The mission itself starts in 2024. So it's a little ways off down the road. They they want to try to uncover some new scientific discoveries that aren't sure what they're going to find. Like the water, for example, demonstrate new technological advancements. But the interesting part of this was to lay a foundation for private companies to build a lunar colony.

Laura Knoy:
Oh, that's interesting. And Nicole talked early about the possible issues that could come up if you had several private companies kind of trying to carve out their own space up there.

Mal Cameron:
We did a presentation last night at the Discovery Center here in Concord. And one of the things that they were talking about was. Why go to the moon and just set up a colony and say, okay, we can live there for a while? That's a reasonable question. You could do as you do with the International Space Station. People go and live there in zero gravity for six months at a time, generally as a tour. Then they come back to earth on the moon. You could go there and stay even longer and there would be some semblance of gravity. It's a third of the gravitational pull of the earth, and you could get out eventually, though. What makes sense? If that's the only goal, then it's not worth doing so bright. If you are using that as a jumping off point to baby build spacecraft in orbit, which would be a lot easier to go to Mars for example, then that's probably worth doing well.

Laura Knoy:
And that gets to the email that we got before the break from Rich who said he loves outer space exploration. He was very inspired by Apollo 11, but he doesn't think it's worth it. He said, look, probes can do this more effectively and a lot cheaper. And John, I wonder what you think about that point.

John Gianforte:
Well, I disagree. I if if the Apollo Eleven was never a human mission, he wouldn't have been inspired. And there's a lot of things that humans can do that robots can't. But the man who was mentioning earlier. Yeah. Yes. So imagine yourself. I mean, we've had rovers on Mars since 2000, actually since 1997 with the Pathfinder Rover, Curiosity and Spirit.

John Gianforte:
I'm sorry. Opportunity and Spirit. And now Curiosity. We find a lot of interesting things on Mars, but they aren't completely autonomous. Nothing could match a human walking through a dried river valley on Mars and looking out of the corner of his or her eyes saying, huh? That's a funny looking rock over there. I want to go there and pick it up without asking anybody, without checking with anybody. They can walk over there, pick it up and say, holy cow, this looks like a fossil. I think I'll put this in my pocket and bring it back. A rover can't do that. I'm sorry. We're just really nowhere near being able to do that. So you can't match the autonomous thinking ability with making quick decisions on the spur of the moment based on things that crop up that a robotic spacecraft can't predict.

Laura Knoy:
Nicole, you want to jump in there?

Nicole Gugliucci:
Sure. Yeah, I definitely agree with that. And as Mal was talking, I was thinking of a book I read a couple years ago called Packing for Mars by Mary Roach, which I highly recommend. If you want to learn the nitty gritty of how astronauts prepare for living in zero G or low G and all of the challenges that we face. And she centered it around, you know, planning a long term trip to Mars, all the challenges we face in designing these long term missions, the biological and psychological effects.

Laura Knoy:
Yeah. Nine months is a long time to be holed up in a small space with just a couple other people. And then there's the radiation, which can be extremely damaging. I think we talked earlier about this show that somebody said that the ideal crew to go to Mars would be a middle aged married couple because they've already had children, presumably. So the radiation wouldn't hurt their reproductive capabilities. And if they'd been married for a long time, they would sort of know how to get along. I'm not sure, though, in a small couple of therapist with that. OK, Mal, go ahead.

Mal Cameron:
In defense of humans presence there, I was thinking about the robotic spacecraft can go. They have some that are designed and some who have already done this where they go in and take scoop up some material and pack it away and then send it back to Earth. We sent astronauts to the moon who in their six landings on the moon brought back 842 pounds of rocks. It's a lot of rock. I could pick up more, a lot larger samples to bring back home. If that's the goal, then a little scoop can on the end of a robotic lander.

Laura Knoy:
Well, Rich, we appreciate the e-mail because this is a debate that is ongoing and we've gotten great e-mails from our listeners. I'd love to share just a few more with you. Rachel at Keene State College says, I saw an interesting mini documentary recently detailing how the constant expansion of the universe eventually will leave us isolated in our own pocket of space, unable to see or reach anything beyond that. Rachel says, Obviously, this will take a very long time. But what are your thoughts on this? Is future space colonization limited because of this? Wow. Rachel, that is a lot to think about. John, you just jump in on the idea of the universe constantly expanding and eventually we'll be really alone.

John Gianforte:
Yes, it's a sobering thought. It is, but. But we can we can we can kind of relax a little. But I tell my students all the time. Listen, this isn't gonna happen before the final. So forget. I know it's not going to get you out of the final exam. This is so far in the future.

John Gianforte:
And it's true with the universe. Edwin Hubble showed us that the universe is expanding. In the late 90s, we discovered that the expansion rate of the universe is accelerating. So it's expanding faster today than it did yesterday. So, yes, in the very, very distant future, as Carl Sagan said in his Cosmos series back in the 1980s, eventually the last galaxy will disappear over the cosmic horizon. The galactic astronomers will be out of business. That's true. But it's such a long timescale. It's like worrying about the sun becoming a red giant in four billion years. OK. So. So I could cross that one off my worry list. You don't have to worry about it for that for the foreseeable future.

Laura Knoy:
Well, Rachel, I really appreciate the e-mail and so many others Russell e-mails. I don't think going to Mars will ever gain as many viewers and amazement as did going to the moon. Russell says due to technological advancement, it seems possible to go to Mars back when going to the moon seemed more impossible. What do you think about this, Nicole?

Nicole Gugliucci:
Well, that's interesting. See? I would think that the Mars mission wouldn't gain as many viewers because it's over such a longer timeframe. Yeah. And we said a shorter five days where we have shorter attention spans. So, you know, like the launch would get press and the landing would get press and then they'd be living there for two years or however long the mission was and not get as much viewership. And yeah. Well, I mean at the time I mean there was there were. I'm not as familiar with pre Apollo sci fi but. Yeah. Going to the moon was science fiction. Going to the Mars is still science fiction for us now.

John Gianforte:
There was a company, a Dutch company. I think it's called Mars One. They're out of business. But they were going to do. They were going to send people to Mars and they actually got.

Laura Knoy:
This is I remember that.

Laura Knoy:
So we talked about that.

John Gianforte:
So they were going to they were going to fund themselves and fund the mission with a reality TV series on the people who went to Mars.

Nicole Gugliucci:
I met some of those folks. So have you. Yeah.

Laura Knoy:
So, yeah, that's all raises ethical concerns for me.

John Gianforte:
So that they're out business to me. Not gonna happen.

John Gianforte:
Not that anybody thought seriously that it would happen, but they were gonna fund themselves with betting on people would actually watch them. People arguing on Mars, people would I'm sure people would say that.

Mal Cameron:
Was this the one way trip to Mars?

John Gianforte:
No, no, no, no, no, no, no. That was a different one.

Laura Knoy:
Oh, my goodness. All right. Well, fodder for future astronomy shows. And I would like to say I am really interested in this probe that's going to Titan, Saturn's largest moon. We do not have time to talk about that today. So hold on to that, because we will talk about next time. It's super, super interesting. Lots of tantalizing aspects of that moon that remind us of our earth. But very quickly, just to wrap up our Apollo 11 discussion, any special event, special commemorations, anything that you're going to be doing on July 20th when they landed that you want to tell us about? And by the way, we've always got links and good information on our Web site and HP data slash X.

Mal Cameron:
I do want to mention that there is a major celebration of the landing day on the 20th this Saturday at the McAuliffe Shepard Discovery Center and celebrating the fiftieth anniversary. They are running it from ten thirty in the morning till 4:00 in the afternoon and they'll have a lot of moon related activities. And they're going to be unveiling a new exhibit. They're called to the Moon, but also to help celebrate. The governor is going to be there. And Senator Shaheen will be there.

Laura Knoy:
Oh, wow. It's a big deal.

Mal Cameron:
It's a really big deal.

Laura Knoy:
OK. And we'll put links on our Web site to man.

Mal Cameron:
You can check it out at star hop dot com easy.

Laura Knoy:
OK. How about you, John?

John Gianforte:
So at the University of New Hampshire, we have our twice monthly public viewing sessions. And the next upcoming public viewing session is coincidentally on Saturday, the 20th of July. So from 9 to 11 at the UNH Observatory in Durham, we will have a acknowledgement in celebration of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon, topped off by observing the moon and will point out the various landing sites for the mission that had people on them going to the moon. Nicole, what are you doing this weekend?

Nicole Gugliucci:
Well, you can get on Twitter right now and we can you get on Twitter right now and follow a air quotes. Live tweet of the Apollo mission by space historian and author Amy Shira Teitel She does this every once in a while. It's super cool where she, you know, has her tweets come out at the day and time on the anniversary of the 15th anniversary of. Everything that's happening so you can follow the media like it's live in real time. Even though it's 50 years later. So check out Amy Shira Teitel's feed. I can send you guys the link and check out your local public library.

Nicole Gugliucci:
I'm speaking at two different libraries in August about space because they're all doing space themed events this summer. So check with your local library. I'm sure they have got some awesome stuff going on.

Laura Knoy:
Well, it's been really great to talk to all of you today. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you. This is The Exchange on NH PR.

The views expressed in this program are those of the individuals and not those of NH PR, its board of trustees or its underwriters. If you'd liked what you heard, spread the word. Here was a review on Apple podcasts to help other listeners find us. Thanks.