Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin Jr., on the moon July 20, 1969, in a photo taken by Neil A. Armstrong, Apollo 11 commander.
Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin Jr., on the moon July 20, 1969, in a photo taken by Neil A. Armstrong, Apollo 11 commander.
Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, the most consequential scientific achievement of the 20th Century.

     Anyone who was old enough to watch television (and understand what they were watching) remembers July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed the lunar module Eagle. Later, when Armstrong stepped out, he said, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
     The Apollo 11 mission is being remembered with a festival in Washington, D.C. (see details below), television specials and articles on multiple websites. Beyond the achievement for NASA, its technicians, scientists and astronauts, the mission gave rise to other discoveries and insights. Here are some examples: 

     Engineering: While everyone remembers Armstrong and Aldrin, a third astronaut, Michael Collins, remained in orbit in the command module Columbia. His part in the journey was important. Getting the two astronauts back off the moon was considered the most perilous part of the mission. Read about the landing from an engineering point of view on the website of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

     Geology: This month's issue of Science magazine highlights how scientists used moon rocks better understand the way planets formed. "Prior to the Apollo landings, it was widely thought that planets formed cold and as a result of the gentle accumulation of asteroid-sized debris," recounts the American Association for the Advancement of Science. "However, the samples retrieved from the moon illustrated a dynamic and far more violent process, characterized by high energy impacts and global-scale melting of rocks and minerals."
      The article is: "Analysis of lunar samples: Implications for planet formation and evolution," by Richard W. Carlson, Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institution for Science.

      Math: NASA points out that the math developed in navigating the moon later was used on Earth to increase air flight efficiency. See the article on the NASA website.

     Schedule for the Apollo 50 Festival:

     For those in Washington, D.C., for the occasion, the National Air and Space Museum and NASA are hosting Apollo 50 Festival on the National Mall. The festival started July 18 and is scheduled for July 19 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and July 20 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
    There will be a stage and 20 tented displays with hands-on exhibits from NASA, Boeing, Raytheon, The LEGO Group, and PBS' Ready Jet Go!, according to the Smithsonian.
     Earlier this week, a 363-foot image of the Saturn V rocket was projected onto the Washington Monument. Over the weekend, a 17-minute program, "Apollo 50: Go for the Moon," will be shown on the monument along with screens on the mall. The projections will begin at 9:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

     Temperatures are expected to be in the upper 90s. So, inside:


      Four history-shaping anniversaries

      First man: Officials prepared for moon disaster

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