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15 Gripping Facts About Galileo

Albert Einstein once said that the work of Galileo Galilei “marks the real beginning of physics.” And astronomy, too: Galileo was the first to aim a telescope at the night sky, and his discoveries changed our picture of the cosmos. Here are 15 things that you might not know about the father of modern science, who was born February 15, 1564.

1. There’s a reason why Galileo Galilei’s first name echoes his last name.

You may have noticed that Galileo Galilei’s given name is a virtual carbon-copy of his family name. In her book Galileo’s Daughter, Dava Sobel explains that in Galileo’s native Tuscany, it was customary to give the first-born son a Christian name based on the family name (in this case, Galilei). Over the years, the first name won out, and we’ve come to remember the scientist simply as “Galileo.”

2. Galileo Galilei probably never dropped anything off the leaning tower of Pisa.

With its convenient “tilt,” the famous tower in Pisa, where Galileo spent the early part of his career, would have been the perfect place to test his theories of motion, and of falling bodies in particular. Did Galileo drop objects of different weights, to see which would strike the ground first? Unfortunately, we have only one written account of Galileo performing such an experiment, written many years later. Historians suspect that if Galileo taken part in such a grand spectacle, there would be more documentation. (However, physicist Steve Shore did perform the experiment at the tower in 2009; I videotaped it and put the results on YouTube.)

3. Galileo taught his students how to cast horoscopes.

It’s awkward to think of the father of modern science mucking about with astrology. But we should keep two things in mind: First, as historians remind us, it’s problematic to judge past events by today’s standards. We know that astrology is bunk, but in Galileo’s time, astrology was only just beginning to disentangle from astronomy. Besides, Galileo wasn’t rich: A professor who could teach astrological methods would be in greater demand than one who couldn’t.

4. Galileo didn’t like being told what to do.

Maybe you already knew that, based on his eventual kerfuffle with the Roman Catholic Church. But even as a young professor at the University of Pisa, Galileo had a reputation for rocking the boat. The university’s rules demanded that he wear his formal robes at all times. He refused—he thought it was pretentious and considered the bulky gown a nuisance. So the university docked his pay.

5. Galileo Galilei didn’t invent the telescope.

We’re not sure who did, although a Dutch spectacle-maker named Hans Lipperhey often gets the credit (he applied for a patent in the fall of 1608). Within a year, Galileo Galilei obtained one of these Dutch instruments and quickly improved the design. Soon, he had a telescope that could magnify 20 or even 30 times. As historian of science Owen Gingerich has put it, Galileo had managed “to turn a popular carnival toy into a scientific instrument.”

6. A king leaned on Galileo to name planets after him.

Galileo rose to fame in 1610 after discovering, among other things, that the planet Jupiter is accompanied by four little moons, never previously observed (and invisible without telescopic aid). Galileo dubbed them the “Medicean stars” after his patron, Cosimo II of the Medici family, who ruled over Tuscany. The news spread quickly; soon the king of France was asking Galileo if he might discover some more worlds and name them after him.

7. Galileo didn’t have trouble with the church for the first two-thirds of his life.

In fact, the Vatican was keen on acquiring astronomical knowledge, because such data was vital for working out the dates of Easter and other holidays. In 1611, when Galileo visited Rome to show off his telescope to the Jesuit astronomers there, he was welcomed with open arms. The future Pope Urban VIII had one of Galileo’s essays read to him over dinner and even wrote a poem in praise of the scientist. It was only later, when a few disgruntled conservative professors began to speak out against Galileo, that things started to go downhill. It got even worse in 1616, when the Vatican officially denounced the heliocentric (sun-centered) system described by Copernicus, which all of Galileo’s observations seemed to support. And yet, the problem wasn’t Copernicanism. More vexing was the notion of a moving Earth, which seemed to contradict certain verses in the Bible.

8. Galileo probably could have earned a living as an artist.

We think of Galileo as a scientist, but his interests—and talents—straddled several disciplines. Galileo could draw and paint as well as many of his countrymen and was a master of perspective—a skill that no doubt helped him interpret the sights revealed by his telescope. His drawings of the Moon are particularly striking. As the art professor Samuel Edgerton has put it, Galileo’s work shows “the deft brushstrokes of a practiced watercolorist”; his images have “an attractive, soft, and luminescent quality.” Edgerton writes of Galileo’s “almost impressionistic technique” more than 250 years before Impressionism developed.

10. Galileo wrote about relativity long before Einstein.

He didn’t write about exactly the same sort of relativity that Einstein did. But Galileo understood very clearly that motion is relative—that is, that your perception of motion has to do with your own movement as well as that of the object you’re looking at. In fact, if you were locked inside a windowless cabin on a ship, you’d have no way of knowing if the ship was motionless, or moving at a steady speed. More than 250 years later, these ideas would be fodder for the mind of the young Einstein.

10. Galileo never married, but that doesn’t mean he was alone.

Galileo was very close with a beautiful woman from Venice named Marina Gamba; together, they had two daughters and a son. And yet, they never married, nor even shared a home. Why not? As Dava Sobel notes, it was traditional for scholars in those days to remain single; perceived class difference may also have played a role.

11. You can listen to music composed by Galileo’s dad.

Galileo’s father, Vincenzo, was a professional musician and music teacher. Several of his compositions have survived, and you can find modern recordings of them on CD (like this one). The young Galileo learned to play the lute by his father’s side; in time he became an accomplished musician in his own right. His music sense may have aided in his scientific work. With no precision clocks, Galileo was still able to time rolling and falling objects to within mere fractions of a second.

12. His discoveries may have influenced a scene in one of Shakespeare’s late plays.

An amusing point of trivia is that Galileo and Shakespeare were born in the same year (1564). By the time Galileo aimed his telescope at the night sky, however, the English playwright was nearing the end of his career. But he wasn’t quite ready to put down the quill: His late play Cymbeline contains what may be an allusion to one of Galileo’s greatest discoveries—the four moons circling Jupiter. In the play’s final act, the god Jupiter descends from the heavens, and four ghosts dance around him in a circle. It could be a coincidence—or, as I suggest in my book The Science of Shakespeare, it could hint at the Bard’s awareness of one of the great scientific discoveries of the time.

13. Galileo had some big-name visitors while under house arrest.

Charged with “vehement suspicion of heresy,” Galileo spent the final eight years of his life under house arrest in his villa outside of Florence. But he was able to keep writing and, apparently, to receive visitors, among them two famous Englishmen: the poet John Milton and the philosopher Thomas Hobbes.

14. Galileo’s bones have not rested in peace.

When Galileo died in 1642, the Vatican refused to allow his remains to be buried alongside family members in Florence’s Santa Croce Basilica; instead, his bones were relegated to a side chapel. A century later, however, his reputation had improved, and his remains (minus a few fingers) were transferred to their present location, beneath a grand tomb in the basilica’s main chapel. Michelangelo is nearby.

15. Galileo might not have been thrilled with the Vatican’s 1992 “apology.”

In 1992, under Pope John Paul II, the Vatican issued an official statement admitting that it was wrong to have persecuted Galileo. But the statement seemed to place most of the blame on the clerks and theological advisers who worked on Galileo’s case—and not on Pope Urban VIII, who presided over the trial. Nor was the charge of heresy overturned.

By: Dan Falk

Source: 15 Gripping Facts About Galileo

Additional sources: The Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo; Galileo’s Daughter; The Cambridge Companion to Galileo.

Check out Brilliant: http://brilliant.org/biographics →Subscribe for new videos every Monday and Thursday! https://www.youtube.com/c/biographics… This video is sponsored by Brilliant. Visit our companion website for more: http://biographics.org Credits: Host – Simon Whistler Author – Steve Theunissen Producer – Jennifer Da Silva Executive Producer – Shell Harris Business inquiries to biographics.email@gmail.com Other Biographics Videos: Albert Einstein: A Pillar of Modern Physics https://youtu.be/VnVVuLIoSWI Satoshi Nakamoto: The Mysterious Founder of Bitcoin https://youtu.be/2Mlw_jVHq7U Source/Further reading: Galileo by Mitch Stokes Galileo and the Scientific Revolution by Laura Fermi https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgaV5…

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Northern Lights In The U.S. This Weekend? Dramatic Geomagnetic Storm Predicted As Milky Way Peaks

Want to see the Northern Lights AND the Milky Way? Those in the northern U.S. states–and even in cities including New York and Boston–could have some extraordinary luck this weekend. The NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center is predicting a G1 or G2 Geomagnetic Storm for both Saturday and Sunday nights.

Where to see the northern lights this weekend

The aurora borealis are possible overhead in the U.S. states of Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Maine according to abc57. Although they’re not nearly as well placed, cities including Omaha, Des Moines, Chicago, Milwaukee, South Bend, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Grand Rapids, Detroit, Columbus, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, New York City and Boston could also get a glimpse of a “forest fire” layer of green above the northern horizon.

How to see the Milky Way

Even if the northern lights don’t materialize, or take their time, this weekend is a fine time to look for the Milky Way while you wait. The rules for finding the Milky Way are pretty simple. Just wait for a New Moon in summer and go to where people are not. That scenario happens for the final time of 2019 this weekend. It’s a last chance for galaxy-gazers and night-scape photographers to gawp at our home galaxy.

While the Milky Way will be visible to the south, the northern lights will–as the name suggests–be in the north (with a little luck).

Today In: Innovation

When to see the Milky Way and the northern lights

This weekend is perfect for seeing both because there’s a New Moon. Technically it’s a “Supermoon New Moon” because it’s relatively close to Earth. However, its only relevance is that there will be no bright moonlight in the sky. The New Moon occurs on Friday, August 30, but for a good few days after there is no significant moonlight.

This is the tail-end of late August’s “stargazing window,” (when the moon is down), but as a bonus, if you get to your observing location around sunset on Saturday, Sunday or Monday, you may see a beautifully slim crescent moon setting in the western sky soon after the Sun.

The ideal time to look at the Milky Way is when it’s arching overhead. That occurs in the northern hemisphere from around 10 p.m. through until about 1 a.m. Before that, and after that, it will be at an angle and closer to the horizon, which makes it more difficult to appreciate. However, true darkness is limited at this time of year, so for best results have a look around 11 p.m. to midnight.

For the northern lights, the prediction for this weekend is more general, and there are no specific times to look. It will be best to be outside after dark, and for as long as possible.

Wherever you plan to go, do check the weather forecast, as well as the space weather forecast. You need clear skies to see anything at all.

Where to see the Milky Way and the northern lights

Anywhere with an inky-black dark sky. Unfortunately, the combined light of billions of stars can easily be smudged-out by artificial light pollution. However, don’t ever use light pollution as an excuse. You just need to make a little effort, which will be well rewarded if the the skies are clear.

As a rule of thumb, anywhere about 40 miles from a significant town or city (or other major source of light pollution) will be ideal. However, just as important for you to see the bright core of the Milky Way is to look for a location that has no sources of light pollution to the south. It’s above the southern horizon that the Milky Way will impress most. Thankfully, there are a number of websites to help you choose a place to view from:

Beware the ‘Supermoon New Moon’

Although a visit to a south-facing coastal location may be tempting for a view of the Milky Way over the ocean (a reliably dark place, and great for interesting photographic compositions), note that the Supermoon New Moon will cause “king” tides this weekend. So be sure to study tide times for wherever on our planet you go, and tread carefully.

How to see the Milky Way and the northern lights

You need to give your eyes a little time to adjust to darkness. Although you may get a “wow” moment when you step out of the car having driven to a dark sky site, and see the Milky Way above you, it’s still worth switching-off all lights and simply standing in the dark for 20 minutes. After that time your eyes will have adjusted to the dark and will let more light in. Ditto for a subdued display of the northern lights. However, beware the smartphone; even a quick peek at a planetarium app will destroy your night vision. The Milky Way will be gradually revealed to you, but it can be quickly snatched away.

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes. 

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I’m an experienced science, technology and travel journalist interested in space exploration, moon-gazing, exploring the night sky, solar and lunar eclipses, astro-travel, wildlife conservation and nature. I’m the editor of WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com and the author of “A Stargazing Program for Beginners: A Pocket Field Guide” (Springer, 2015), as well as many eclipse-chasing guides.

Source: Northern Lights In The U.S. This Weekend? Dramatic Geomagnetic Storm Predicted As Milky Way Peaks

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Amazon Is The Second Company To Report Tesla Solar Panel Fire

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Topline: Amazon is joining Walmart in pointing the finger at Tesla solar panels for fires on the roofs of their facilities in what is yet another hiccup for Tesla’s embattled solar business.

  • Amazon said Tesla solar panels caught fire in June 2018 at one of its warehouses in Redlands, California.
  • Amazon’s disclosure comes days after Walmart sued Tesla for breach of contract and gross negligence after seven stores experienced roof fires allegedly caused by faulty Tesla solar panels. Both companies later said they are working together to “addressing all issues.”
  • Amazon said it would not install any more Tesla panels.

In a statement to Forbes, a Tesla spokesperson said in an email that the Amazon fire was an “isolated event” at one of 11 Amazon sites with solar panels.

“Tesla worked collaboratively with Amazon to root cause the event and remediate. We also performed inspections at the other sites, which confirmed the integrity of the systems. As with all of our commercial solar installations, we continue to proactively monitor the systems to ensure they operate safely and reliably,” the statement continues.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Tesla did not respond when Forbes asked whether the company has plans for broader inspections of both commercial and residential solar power installations.

According to a Business Insider report, Tesla was aware of problems related to its solar panels. In the summer of 2018, around the same time as the Amazon fire, Tesla launched a secret internal project called Project Titan to replace what the company said were faulty “connectors” manufactured by Connecticut-based Amphenol, according to the report.

“We have no reason to believe that Amphenol’s products are the cause of any issues related to the claims filed by Walmart against Tesla,” an Amphenol spokesperson said in a statement.

Key Background: Tesla’s embattled solar business has been plagued by plunging sales, production delays and layoffs since CEO Elon Musk acquired solar company SolarCity for $2.6 billion in 2016.

Musk hasn’t tweeted about the Walmart or Amazon complaints, but instead announced a revamped pricing plan in an effort to boost the slowing solar panel business. The new pricing model allows residents in six states to rent solar power systems starting at $50 a month ($65 a month in California) instead of buying them up front.

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I’m a San Francisco-based reporter covering breaking news at Forbes. Previously, I’ve reported for USA Today, Business Insider, The San Francisco Business Times and San Jose Inside. I studied journalism at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and was an editor at The Daily Orange, the university’s independent student newspaper. Follow me on Twitter @rachsandl or shoot me an email rsandler@forbes.com.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/

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Apollo 11’s Transcendent Leadership Lessons

To paraphrase Walter Cronkite, it was, and remains to this day, the greatest adventure in the history of mankind.

The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing says much about the capability of our country, the miracles of science and engineering and the commitment of the NASA team. But it also offers important lessons on leadership, which are as relevant today as they were in July, 1969.

These are leadership lessons that transcend time and circumstance, which corporate executives and board members may well want to consider as they commemorate this great event.

Lesson #1: Visions Can Come True. JFK’s memorable 1962 “Moon Speech” set forth the vision of Apollo. It included the famous “…because it is hard” acknowledgment, and the equally inspiring charge that “…to do all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out—then we must be bold.” Some 57 years later, vision, boldness and the motivation they generate in others remain essential tools by which leaders take organizations to great heights. Their absence can create insurmountable barriers to growth.

Lesson #2: Teamwork Matters. The three Apollo 11 astronauts were not close friends. They had different personalities. Armstrong was emotionally remote. Aldrin acerbic and abrasive. Collins more “happy go lucky.” But they made it work; they interacted successfully under the most extreme circumstances. For leaders don’t need to be BFFs with their colleagues in order to be effective. They do, however, need to be accepting and respectful of who their colleagues are, and the contributions they offer.

Lesson #3: Confidence. They believed in their systems in spite of the risks: the Saturn V liftoff, the LM ascent engine firing, trans-earth injection, the re-entry and splashdown. Even at NASA’s famous 99.9% reliability standard, much could still go wrong. Yet they moved forward in reliance on confidence in the technical competency of the workforce and the efforts to remove risk from the conceptual design. Where leaders can establish an organizational commitment to quality, safety and risk management, managers can more comfortably implement even the most aggressive of products.

Lesson #4: We Need The Michael Collinses. It was not for Collins to land on the moon. It was for him to orbit the moon in solitude, waiting/hoping for the return of Armstrong and Aldrin from the lunar surface. His glory would be less; history would not treat him nearly as prominently. And he was good with it. Indeed, every organization needs leaders content to do their job, who are willing to be part of a larger effort and not likely to complain or worry about more glamorous tasks being assigned to others.

Lesson #5: Command Decisions Count. The legend is indeed the fact. Armstrong really did land the Lunar Module, manually, with just 16 seconds of fuel remaining. Aborting the descent was not an option. Like all good leaders, Armstrong was in charge. He knew the terrain. He knew his machine. He knew the stakes and he was going to get the job done. The absolute ultimate command decision. Leaders who “sit in the left seat” must be prepared to “make the call,” to make the most difficult of decisions, often in the most trying of circumstances.

Lesson #6: Encourage Ideas. It wasn’t store-bought. There wasn’t a model or prototype. The enormous “crawler” that transported the Saturn V from the Vehicle Assembly Plant to the launchpad was the brainchild of a member of the launch operations team, whose name is now lost to history. He reportedly got the idea from watching the strip-mining process. Ingenuity and creativity often have wildly diverse parentage, and smart leaders will encourage ideas from all elements of the workforce, starting with the mailroom and continuing up the ladder.

Lesson #7: “Code 1202” Events. It was the Apollo version of a “black swan.” On final lunar descent, an unusual program alarm (code 1202) flashed, indicating a problem with the guidance computer. With the landing in balance, a young control officer in Houston, familiar with the code from earlier simulations, provided the critical “go on that alarm” assurance. No company is immune to a Code 1202 event. The unforeseeable will occur. But leadership can set expectations concerning risk evaluation that will help the company respond in crisis situations.

Lesson #8: It Takes A Village. A very big village, in fact. The Apollo project team was estimated at over 300,000 people. It was an amazing partnership between the government, private industry and the astronauts—and, ultimately the American public. And on their final flight transmission, the Apollo astronauts paid a humble video tribute to that partnership. Effective leadership recognizes that success often requires a combination of management vision and workforce commitment. Rarely is it one or the other, and almost never “just about me.”

Lesson #9: Learn from Mistakes. The great success of Apollo 11 was made possible in large part by the tragic failure of Apollo 1. That catastrophe forced NASA to confront its culture of complacency for risk and safety, and to restructure its entire operations. Indeed, great lessons can be learned from failure as well as success; from accepting responsibility for non-performance and moving forward from there. Even on the largest possible scale, leaders never stop learning-even from their own (or their organization’s) mistakes.

Lesson #10: Otherworldly Commitment. Armstrong attributed Apollo’s success to its nature as “a project in which everybody involved was…interested…involved…and fascinated by the job they were doing.” (“Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon” by Craig Nelson (Penguin, 2009) In today’s business environment, when leaders are increasingly focused on workforce culture and satisfaction, major initiatives are more likely to succeed when employees, like the Apollo team, are motivated “to [do] their job a little better than they have to.”

There is an understandable tendency to marginalize important events that happened long ago. Men in a spaceship—how interesting, but of course it was long ago, and we’ve progressed so much since then. It’s hardly relevant to our world today. But as to Apollo 11, that would be a huge mistake; it still matters, very much so.

In his Farewell Address to the nation, President Reagan spoke to the lasting value of the American heritage. He warned of an eradication of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit. “If we forget what we did, we won’t know who we are.” And, one might add, of what we are capable of achieving, as a nation, as individuals—and as organizations. That’s the transcendent lesson of Apollo 11. And it’s a lesson that is meaningful in the boardroom, and the executive suite.

I wish to acknowledge “Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon” by Craig Nelson (Penguin, 2009) as a resource in the preparation of this post.

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I am a partner in the Chicago office of international law firm McDermott Will & Emery and earned my law degree at Northwestern University. I represent corporations (and their officers and directors) in connection with governance, corporate structure, fiduciary duties, officer-director liability issues, charitable trust law and corporate alliances. Over the course of my 39-year career, I have served as outside governance counsel to many prominent national corporations. I speak and write on a range of emerging trends and issues in corporate governance to help leaders understand the implications and how they might be relevant to their own circumstances. Writing is a passion of mine and I do my best writing on the porch of my home in Michigan.

Source: Apollo 11’s Transcendent Leadership Lessons

Everyone Missed An Apollo 11 Mistake, And It Almost Killed The Astronauts Returning To Earth

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin raise the American Flag on the Moon, with the shadow of the Lunar Module (where the camera is mounted) seen in nearby. The astronauts might not have successfully returned to Earth, however, if the procedure used to jettison the fuel from the Service Module had let it come into contact with the Command Module. (NASA/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Even from our perspective in 2019, 50 years later, humanity’s achievements from July, 1969, still mark the pinnacle of crewed spaceflight. For the first time in history, human beings successfully landed on the surface of another world. After a 380,000 km journey, the crew set foot on the Moon, walked upon it, installed scientific instruments, took samples, and then departed for Earth.

Three days after leaving the Moon, on July 24, 1969, they splashed down in Earth’s oceans, successfully completing their return trip. But during Apollo 11’s return to Earth, a serious anomaly occurred: one that went undetected until after the crew returned to Earth. Uncovered by Nancy Atkinson in her new book, Eight Years to the Moon, this anomaly could have led to a disastrous ending for astronauts Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins. Here’s the story you’ve never heard.

This NASA image was taken on July 16, 1969, and shows some of the thousands of people who camped out on beaches and roads adjacent to the Kennedy Space Center to watch the Apollo 11 mission Liftoff aboard the Saturn V rocket. Four days later, humanity would take our first footsteps on another world. Four days after that, the astronauts successfully returned to Earth, but that was not a foregone conclusion. (NASA / AFP / Getty Images)

This NASA image was taken on July 16, 1969, and shows some of the thousands of people who camped out on beaches and roads adjacent to the Kennedy Space Center to watch the Apollo 11 mission Liftoff aboard the Saturn V rocket. Four days later, humanity would take our first footsteps on another world. Four days after that, the astronauts successfully returned to Earth, but that was not a foregone conclusion. (NASA / AFP / Getty Images)

According to our records, the flight plan of Apollo 11 went off without a hitch. Chosen as the mission to fulfill then-President Kennedy’s goal of performing a crewed lunar landing and successful return to Earth, the timeline appeared to go exactly as planned.

  • On July 16, 1969, the Saturn V rocket responsible for propelling Apollo 11 to the Moon successfully launched from Cape Kennedy. (Modern-day Cape Canaveral.)
  • Only July 17, the first thrust maneuver using Apollo’s Service Propulsion System (SPS) was made, course-correcting for the journey to the Moon. The launch and this one corrective burn were so successful that the other three scheduled SPS maneuvers were not even needed.
  • Only July 19, Apollo 11 reached the Moon, flying behind it and entering lunar orbit after a series of thrust maneuvers from SPS.
  • On July 20, the Eagle (lunar module) undocked from the Columbia (command and service module), made a powered descent, and landed on the Moon’s surface.
Astronaut Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin Jr., Lunar Module Pilot, stands near a scientific experiment on the lunar surface. Humanity's first landing on the Moon occurred July 20, 1969, as the Lunar Module code-named "Eagle" touched down gently on the Sea of Tranquility on the east side of the Moon. The Lunar Module, completely intact before the ascent stage is launched, can be seen in full beside the planted American flag. (NASA/Newsmakers)

Astronaut Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin Jr., Lunar Module Pilot, stands near a scientific experiment on the lunar surface. Humanity’s first landing on the Moon occurred July 20, 1969, as the Lunar Module code-named “Eagle” touched down gently on the Sea of Tranquility on the east side of the Moon. The Lunar Module, completely intact before the ascent stage is launched, can be seen in full beside the planted American flag. (NASA/Newsmakers)

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  • After 4 hours setting up, astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin left the lunar module to explore the lunar surface, performing an extra-vehicular activity (EVA) for a total of 2.5 hours, deploying scientific instruments, collecting samples for return, and famously planting an American flag.
  • On July 21, after just 21 hours and 36 minutes on the Moon, the ascent engine fired, bringing the Eagle back to dock with Columbia, and returning astronauts Aldrin and Armstrong to the Command and Service Module with astronaut Collins.
  • On July 21, the SPS thrusters fired, returning the Command and Service Module to Earth, with the lone mid-course correction coming on July 22.
  • And on July 24, re-entry procedures were initiated, returning the Apollo 11 crew to a safe splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.
This artist's concept shows the Command Module undergoing re-entry in 5000 °F heat. The Apollo Command/Service Module was used for the Apollo program which landed astronauts on the Moon between 1969 and 1972. An ablative heat shield on the outside of the Command Module protected the capsule from the heat of re-entry (from space into Earth's atmosphere), which is sufficient to melt most metals. During re-entry, the heat shield charred and melted away, absorbing and carrying away the intense heat in the process. (Heritage Space/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

This artist’s concept shows the Command Module undergoing re-entry in 5000 °F heat. The Apollo Command/Service Module was used for the Apollo program which landed astronauts on the Moon between 1969 and 1972. An ablative heat shield on the outside of the Command Module protected the capsule from the heat of re-entry (from space into Earth’s atmosphere), which is sufficient to melt most metals. During re-entry, the heat shield charred and melted away, absorbing and carrying away the intense heat in the process. (Heritage Space/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

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It all sounds so simple and straightforward, which obscures the real truth: for every one of these steps, there were hundreds (or more) potential points of failure that everyone involved needed to guard against. That final step alone, which returned the astronauts from their presence around to Moon — after journeying back to Earth — was one of the most crucial. If it failed, it would lead to certain death, similar to the demise of the Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov.

Successful re-entries after a journey to the Moon had already taken place aboard NASA’s Apollo 8 and Apollo 10 missions, and Apollo 11 was expected to follow the same procedures. At the danger of becoming complacent, this step, in many ways, already seemed like old hat to many of those staffing the Apollo 11 mission.

This schematic drawing shows the stages in the return from a lunar landing mission. The Lunar Module takes off from the Moon and docks with the Command and Service Module. The Command Module then separates from the Service Module, which jettisons its fuel and accelerates away. The Command Module then re-enters the Earth's atmosphere, before finally parachuting down to land in the ocean. (SSPL/Getty Images)

This schematic drawing shows the stages in the return from a lunar landing mission. The Lunar Module takes off from the Moon and docks with the Command and Service Module. The Command Module then separates from the Service Module, which jettisons its fuel and accelerates away. The Command Module then re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere, before finally parachuting down to land in the ocean. (SSPL/Getty Images)

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Re-entry, in principle, ought to be straightforward for the astronauts returning from the Moon. The Command and Service Modules first needed to separate, with the astronauts inside the Command Module and the Service Module being jettisoned. Once safely away, the Command Module would re-orient itself so that the heat shield was in the forward-facing position, prepared to absorb the brunt of the impact of re-entering Earth’s atmosphere while protecting the astronauts inside.

At the proper moment, when the atmospheric density was great enough and the external temperatures and speeds were low enough, the parachute would deploy, leading to a gentle splashdown in the Pacific Ocean approximately 5 minutes later, where the astronauts could then be safely recovered.

Although there are no known photographs of the Apollo 11 Command Module descending towards splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, all of the crewed Apollo missions ended in similar fashion: with the Command Module's heat shield protecting the astronauts during the early stages of re-entry, and a parachute deploying to slow the final stages of descent to a manageable speed. Shown here, Apollo 14 is about to splash down in the oceans, similar to the prior missions such as Apollo 11. (SSPL/Getty Images)

Although there are no known photographs of the Apollo 11 Command Module descending towards splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, all of the crewed Apollo missions ended in similar fashion: with the Command Module’s heat shield protecting the astronauts during the early stages of re-entry, and a parachute deploying to slow the final stages of descent to a manageable speed. Shown here, Apollo 14 is about to splash down in the oceans, similar to the prior missions such as Apollo 11. (SSPL/Getty Images)

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It sounds so routine. But of the innumerable things that could go wrong, one of them was entirely unexpected: the possibility that the Service Module, scheduled to break apart and safely burn up in Earth’s atmosphere, could accidentally have a piece of its debris collide with the Command Module, ruining re-entry and killing the returning astronauts on board.

The plan to avoid it was simple: the Service Module, post-separation, would perform a series of thrust maneuvers to take it safely away from the re-entry path of the Command Module. By shifting the Service Module to a significantly different trajectory, it wouldn’t even re-enter at the same time as the Command Module, but would skip off the atmosphere this time. The re-entry of the Service Module should have only come much later, after performing another orbit (or set of orbits) around Earth.

Both the Command Module and the Service Module from Apollo 11 followed the same re-entry trajectory, which could have proved fatal to the astronauts aboard the Command Module if a collision of any type had occurred. It was only through luck that such a catastrophe was avoided.

Both the Command Module and the Service Module from Apollo 11 followed the same re-entry trajectory, which could have proved fatal to the astronauts aboard the Command Module if a collision of any type had occurred. It was only through luck that such a catastrophe was avoided.

NASA

But that didn’t happen at all. To quote from Nancy Atkinson’s book, pilot Frank A. Brown, flying about 450 miles (725 km) away from the re-entry point, reported the following:

I see the two of them, one above the other. One is the Command Module; the other is the Service Module. . . . I see the trail behind them — what a spectacle! You can see the bits flying off. Notice that the top one is almost unchanged while the bottom one is shattering into pieces. That is the disintegrating Service Module.

Fortunately for everyone, none of the debris resulting from the Service Module’s re-entry impacted the Command Module, and the astronauts all arrived safely back on Earth.

The crew of Apollo 11 — Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin — in the Mobile Quarantine Facility after returning from the surface of the Moon. The U.S.S. Hornet successfully recovered the astronauts from the Command Module after splashdown, where the crew was greeted by President Nixon, among others. (MPI/Getty Images)

The crew of Apollo 11 — Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin — in the Mobile Quarantine Facility after returning from the surface of the Moon. The U.S.S. Hornet successfully recovered the astronauts from the Command Module after splashdown, where the crew was greeted by President Nixon, among others. (MPI/Getty Images)

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How could this have occurred?

There was a fault in how the Service Module was configured to jettison its remaining fuel: a problem that was later discovered to have occurred aboard the prior Apollo 8 and Apollo 10 missions as well. Instead of a series of thrusters firing to move the Service Module away from the Command Module, shifting it to a different trajectory and eliminating the possibility of a collision, the way the thrusters actually fired put the entire mission at risk.

The problem was that there were two types of thrusters on board the Service Module: the Minus X RCS jets and the RCS roll jets. And while the roll jets fired in bursts in an attempt to stabilize the Service Module, the Minus X jets fired continuously.

The Reaction Control System, visible towards the center-left of the image, consists of two types of thrusters that control both acceleration and orientation. With the original flaw, the thrusters fired in a pattern that put the Command Module at risk. Had those two modules collided, the astronauts on board would have had a failed re-entry, killing all three passengers.

The Reaction Control System, visible towards the center-left of the image, consists of two types of thrusters that control both acceleration and orientation. With the original flaw, the thrusters fired in a pattern that put the Command Module at risk. Had those two modules collided, the astronauts on board would have had a failed re-entry, killing all three passengers.

NASA

In the aftermath of Apollo 11, investigators determined that the proper procedure for avoiding contact would be to properly time the firing of both the roll jets and the Minus X jets, which would lead to a 0% probability of contact between the two spacecrafts. This might seem like an extremely small point — to have the Minus X jets cut out after a certain amount of time firing as well as the roll jets — but you must remember that the spacecraft is full of moving parts.

If, for example, the fuel were to slosh around after the Service Module and the Command Module separated, that could lead to a certain window of uncertainty in the resultant trajectory. Without implementing the correct procedure for firing the various jets implemented, the safe return of the Apollo 11 astronauts would have to come down to luck.

This NASA picture taken on April 17, 1970, shows the Service Module (codenamed "Odyssey") from the Apollo 13 mission. The Service Module was jettisoned from the Command Module early, and the damage is clearly visible on the right side. This was to be the third crewed Apollo mission to land on the Moon, but was aborted due to the onboard explosion. Thankfully, the flaw in the jettison controller had been fixed, and the Service Module posed no risk to the astronaut-carrying Command Module from Apollo 13 onwards. (AFP/Getty Images)

This NASA picture taken on April 17, 1970, shows the Service Module (codenamed “Odyssey”) from the Apollo 13 mission. The Service Module was jettisoned from the Command Module early, and the damage is clearly visible on the right side. This was to be the third crewed Apollo mission to land on the Moon, but was aborted due to the onboard explosion. Thankfully, the flaw in the jettison controller had been fixed, and the Service Module posed no risk to the astronaut-carrying Command Module from Apollo 13 onwards. (AFP/Getty Images)

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Fortunately for everyone, they did get lucky. During the technical debriefing in the aftermath of Apollo 11, the fly-by of the Service Module past the Command Module was noted by Buzz Aldrin, who also reported on the Service Module’s rotation, which was far in excess of the design parameters. Engineer Gary Johnson hand-drew schematics for rewiring the Apollo Service Module’s jettison controller, and the changes were made just after the next flight: Apollo 12.

Those first four crewed trips to the Moon — Apollo 8, 10, 11 and 12 — could have all ended in potential disaster. If the Service Module had collided with the Command Module, a re-entry disaster similar to Space Shuttle Columbia could have occurred just as the USA was taking the conclusive steps of the Space Race.

View of the Apollo 11 capsule floating on the water after splashing down upon its return to Earth on July 24, 1969. If the Command Module and the Service Module had collided or interacted in any sort of substantial, unplanned-for way, the return of the first moonwalkers could have been as disastrous as the Space Shuttle Columbia's final flight. (CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

View of the Apollo 11 capsule floating on the water after splashing down upon its return to Earth on July 24, 1969. If the Command Module and the Service Module had collided or interacted in any sort of substantial, unplanned-for way, the return of the first moonwalkers could have been as disastrous as the Space Shuttle Columbia’s final flight. (CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

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Atkinson’s book, Eight Years to the Moon, comes highly recommended by me if you’re interested in the behind-the-scenes details and rarely-told stories from the Apollo era. Inside, you’ll find many additional details about this event, including interview snippets with Gary Johnson himself.

If Armstrong and Aldrin — the first two moonwalkers — were to perish before returning to Earth, the United States already had a presidential address drafted for such a purpose. We may chalk it up to good fortune that the following words never needed to be spoken:

In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.

In ancient days, men looked at the stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.

Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man’s search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

Ethan Siegel Ethan Siegel Contributor

I am a Ph.D. astrophysicist, author, and science communicator, who professes physics and astronomy at various colleges.

 

Source: Everyone Missed An Apollo 11 Mistake, And It Almost Killed The Astronauts Returning To Earth

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Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/01/health/cellphone-radiation-cancer.html

 

 

 

 

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Many people think that NASA is up to no good. You’ve got your flat Earther’s who say that the whole round Earth thing is a hoax and that it’s designed to keep you from knowing the real truth, which is that NASA likes to use a lot of CGI and none of their space missions are real and it’s all just an illusion to keep getting their 0.5% of the United States federal budget.

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WORK FOR TOP 5S FINEST: https://goo.gl/Su8DZQ FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: https://twitter.com/Top5sFinest LIKE US ON FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/TheFinestPost/ Background Music: Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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