2014/11/02

Fred Haise (Apollo 13) firma la mia t-shirt di Apollo 13

di Paolo Attivissimo

Pochi giorni fa, Fred Haise, astronauta della missione Apollo 13, è stato ospite di Space Lectures per una cena di gala e una conferenza. Al termine della conferenza, ha firmato autografi a tutti. Fra quei tutti c'ero anch'io, con la mia t-shirt di Apollo 13.




Un resoconto della cena e della conferenza è disponibile qui sul Disinformatico.

2014/09/24

Il telequiz RAI “L'eredità” parla di complotti lunari

di Paolo Attivissimo. Questo articolo vi arriva grazie alla segnalazione di @ecitriniti ed è stato aggiornato dopo la pubblicazione iniziale.

Una piccola chicca: la puntata del 23 settembre scorso de L'eredità (Rai), disponibile al momento qui, ha dedicato una delle domande alle tesi di cospirazionismo lunare.

La domanda, posta a 33:20 dall'inizio della puntata (nella parte denominata “la scossa”), chiede quali degli argomenti elencati non viene citato dai lunacomplottisti: Manca cratere sotto il modulo, Oggetto riflesso sul casco, Assenza di stelle, Sbalzo di temperatura, Bandiera che sventola, Radiazioni nocive, Colori irreali della Terra, Lettera su un masso, Ombre con direzioni diverse.

Vengono date anche le spiegazioni abbastanza corrette (nei limiti di concisione dei tempi televisivi) per i singoli argomenti, ma quella per le ombre con direzioni diverse non è corretta: anzi, proprio non viene data. Eccola: nelle foto lunari, le ombre sembrano avere direzioni diverse (convergenti) ma sono in realtà parallele. Sembrano convergenti perché sono deformate dalla prospettiva. Questa deformazione prospettica è la stessa che fa sembrare che i binari del treno convergano in lontananza, anche se sappiamo benissimo che sono paralleli. Lo stesso fenomeno si manifesta quando si fotografano delle ombre parallele sulla Terra: entra in gioco la prospettiva e nella foto non sembrano parallele.

Le regole della “scossa” prevedono che i concorrenti a turno scelgano una risposta fra quelle non esatte: chi sceglie quella giusta perde (è difficile da descrivere, ma se guardate la puntata è tutto più chiaro). Purtroppo una delle concorrenti ha scelto Colori irreali della Terra, che non è un'argomentazione presentata dai lunacomplottisti (almeno finora), e ha quindi perso. Se avesse letto Luna? Sì, ci siamo andati avrebbe evitato l'errore. E poi dicono che il debunking non serve a niente!

2014/09/22

Nvidia smonta la tesi degli astronauti in ombra troppo illuminati

di Paolo Attivissimo. Questo articolo vi arriva grazie alla gentile donazione di “achille*” e “remo*”.

In tantissimi (troppi per ringraziarvi singolarmente) mi avete segnalato la notizia (CNet; Gizmodo; Fastcolabs; Engadget; NerdistNvidia) che Nvidia, per pubblicizzare le proprie nuove schede grafiche GeForce, ha sbugiardato con immagini digitali bellissime l'asserzione lunacomplottista che gli astronauti Apollo, nelle foto delle escursioni lunari, sono eccessivamente illuminati quando sono in ombra e quindi le foto sono false e palesemente realizzate su un set.

Spesso questa tesi viene riferita in particolare alla foto presentata qui sotto (AS11-40-5868), che mostra Buzz Aldrin mentre scende lungo la scaletta e viene immortalato da Neil Armstrong, che è già sulla superficie lunare. Aldrin è nel cono d'ombra del veicolo spaziale (il Sole è a destra, come si nota dai lens flare vicino al margine destro della foto e dalla direzione delle ombre), eppure lo si vede benissimo. I lunacomplottisti asseriscono che Aldrin dovrebbe essere quasi invisibile perché è nell'ombra del LM e non c'è nulla, sulla Luna, che lo possa illuminare così bene.


Foto NASA AS11-40-5868 (versione a media risoluzione).


Nvidia ha deciso di dimostrare la potenza e la fedeltà di rendering delle proprie schede grafiche ricostruendo fedelmente la scena e soprattutto la riflettività della superficie lunare (nota grazie alle osservazioni telescopiche), dei rivestimenti del modulo lunare e della tuta di Aldrin.

L'illuminazione di qualunque ambiente, infatti, non proviene soltanto dalla fonte primaria di luce, ma scaturisce anche dai riflessi delle superfici circostanti. C'è anche la diffusione atmosferica della luce, che però diventa significativa solo su grandi volumi (sulla Terra, la luce solare diffusa dall'atmosfera rende luminoso tutto il cielo di giorno e quindi schiarisce le zone non direttamente illuminate dal Sole; sulla Luna, mancando un'atmosfera, non c'è diffusione). Se non esistessero questi riflessi, le ombre sarebbero sempre nerissime, sulla Terra come sulla Luna: avrebbero l'aspetto mostrato dal rendering qui sotto, che non calcola i riflessi ed è conforme alla tesi dei lunacomplottisti.


Credit: Nvidia.


Ma dall'osservazione della realtà sappiamo che le ombre non funzionano così: una persona che si mette all'ombra di un albero non diventa una sagoma nera e il lato in ombra di un oggetto non diventa nero come la pece: viene rischiarato dai riflessi delle superfici illuminate adiacenti. In altre parole, lunacomplottisti che sostengono la tesi delle ombre nerissime imostrano di non sapere un'acca di come funziona la luce.

Usando la potenza di calcolo delle proprie schede grafiche, Nvidia ha incluso anche la riflettività dei materiali circostanti e ha ottenuto il risultato mostrato qui sotto, che corrisponde all'illuminazione della scena calcolata tenendo conto della luce riflessa dalla superficie lunare verso l'astronauta e verso il lato in ombra del modulo lunare.


Credit: Nvidia.


Il risultato si avvicina alla foto originale della NASA, ma Aldrin non è illuminato altrettanto fortemente. Manca ancora una fonte di luce. Quale?

La risposta, come già spiegato nel mio libro Luna? Sì, ci siamo andati!, è che la fonte luminosa mancante è il fotografo stesso. Neil Armstrong, infatti, indossa una tuta bianchissima e si trova in pieno sole (lo si nota dai già citati lens flare che colpiscono l'obiettivo della sua fotocamera, in alto a destra nella foto originale), per cui riflette un bel po' di luce solare verso il proprio compagno. Nvidia ha provato ad aggiungere anche questa fonte di luce per certi versi poco intuitiva, usando i parametri di riflettività del materiale della tuta originale, e ha ottenuto il risultato che vedete qui sotto a confronto con l'originale.


A sinistra, la ricostruzione realizzata da Nvidia; a destra, la foto originale.
Credit: Nvidia/NASA.


La tuta di Neil Armstrong, da sola, aggiunge “circa il 10% di luce” ad Aldrin, dice Mark Daly, senior director of content development di Nvidia. L'illuminazione dell'astronauta sulla scaletta nella foto originale, insomma, è giusta e realistica come ce la mostra la NASA e le anomalie asserite dai complottisti sono semplicemente frutto della loro incompetenza.

Il video preparato da Nvidia racconta ulteriori dettagli, compresa la spiegazione illustrata della mancanza delle stelle.



Questo metterà a tacere i testoni che non si arrendono di fronte alla montagna di dati tecnici, alle conferme da parte dei russi e alle foto dei siti d'allunaggio che mostrano i veicoli, gli strumenti e le impronte lasciate sulla Luna dagli astronauti? Assolutamente no. Diranno che finalmente nel 2014 i processori commerciali hanno raggiunto la potenza di calcolo dei supercomputer ultrasegreti usati dalla CIA nel 1969. O si metteranno a strillare e insultare, come fanno di solito. Pazienza.

Dal punto di vista del debunking, questa indagine di Nvidia in realtà è interessante ma non cambia le cose; è semplicemente un'ulteriore conferma visiva e computazionale di quanto si sapeva già. Inoltre la prova della realtà delle missioni lunari non sta in questa foto, ma nella montagna di dati tecnici e scientifici, nelle conferme da parte dei russi, nelle foto dei siti d'allunaggio che mostrano i veicoli, gli strumenti e le impronte lasciate sulla Luna dagli astronauti, e nell'impossibilità di realizzare, con gli effetti speciali degli anni Sessanta, i fenomeni fisici osservati nelle riprese lunari, come la camminata in gravità ridotta o la caduta parabolica della polvere.

Volendo essere pignoli, i risultati, i dati e i metodi di Nvidia andrebbero resi pubblici per verificare che non si tratti semplicemente di un'astuta trovata pubblicitaria e che l'immagine sintetica non sia stata forzata ad avere l'aspetto giusto. Non che ci siano molti dubbi al riguardo, ma è questione di correttezza.

In questo senso sembra che saremo piacevolmente accontentati, perché sempre Mark Daly ha dichiarato che Nvidia sta creando un'interfaccia utente per consumatori per questa demo e la rilascerà al pubblico nelle prossime settimane. Ed è qui che sta il vero bonus dell'indagine di Nvidia.


La vera novità: illustrare meglio l'EVA di Apollo 11


Se verranno davvero rilasciato tutto il software e i modelli digitali usati per ricreare l'ambiente dell'allunaggio, sarà possibile spiegare meglio gli eventi del primo sbarco sulla Luna, ricostruendolo da varie angolazioni sulla base dei dati reali. Per esempio, potrei comperare un PC e una scheda Nvidia appositamente per aggiungere al documentario Moonscape dei rendering che spieghino e illustrino le immagini originali.

Per esempio, questi sono alcuni rendering di Nvidia della posizione di Neil Armstrong durante la foto esaminata:


A sinistra, la posizione di Armstrong durante lo scatto. Aldrin è sul lato opposto del LM.
Credit: Nvidia.

Da quest'angolazione Aldrin è visibile sulla scaletta.
Credit: Nvidia.


La visuale di Armstrong, riflessa nel suo casco.
Credit: Nvidia.


Girando intorno al LM vediamo la scena da una posizione situata a sinistra di Armstrong.


Continuiamo il giro intorno al LM.
Credit: Nvidia.


Avviciniamoci.
Credit: Nvidia.


Quest'esplorazione virtuale permette già ora di arricchire il commento alle immagini dello sbarco sulla Luna con una chicca intrigante. Guardate questo fotogramma, preso dalla diretta TV dello sbarco grosso modo nell'istante in cui fu scattata la foto discussa da Nvidia: vedete la chiazza bianca quasi al centro dell'immagine?


Credit: NASA/Lowry Digital.

Sembra un difetto della telecamera, ma in realtà è la tuta di Neil Armstrong, talmente illuminata dal Sole da risultare sovraesposta. Il rendering di Nvidia da un'angolazione molto simile a quella della telecamera automatica, situata all'esterno del modulo lunare, lo chiarisce perfettamente:


Credit: Nvidia.

2014/08/04

La diretta TV integrale restaurata dello sbarco di Apollo 11 è su Youtube

di Paolo Attivissimo

Pochi giorni fa, il 17 luglio scorso, la NASA ha pubblicato su Youtube la versione restaurata integrale della trasmissione televisiva in diretta dalla Luna effettuata durante la prima escursione umana sulla superficie della Luna. Da 46.23 in poi, per circa un'ora, c'è un vistoso taglio delle porzioni inferiori e superiori dell'immagine per adattarlo al formato 16:9. Questo taglio non era presente nella ripresa originale. Comunque sia, buona visione: è decisamente più intellegibile delle copie non restaurate.

2014/07/09

Buzz Aldrin ieri ha risposto alle domande di tutti su Reddit

di Paolo Attivissimo



Ieri Buzz Aldrin, pilota del modulo lunare di Apollo 11 e uno dei primi due esseri umani a camminare su un altro corpo celeste insieme a Neil Armstrong, ha risposto in diretta alle domande degli internauti su Reddit. Questa è una sintesi della discussione, che trovate in forma integrale qui.



Is there any experience on Earth that even compares slightly to having been on the Moon?

My first words of my impression of being on the surface of the Moon that just came to my mind was "Magnificent desolation." The magnificence of human beings, humanity, Planet Earth, maturing the technologies, imagination and courage to expand our capabilities beyond the next ocean, to dream about being on the Moon, and then taking advantage of increases in technology and carrying out that dream - achieving that is magnificent testimony to humanity. But it is also desolate - there is no place on earth as desolate as what I was viewing in those first moments on the Lunar Surface.

Because I realized what I was looking at, towards the horizon and in every direction, had not changed in hundreds, thousands of years. Beyond me I could see the moon curving away - no atmosphere, black sky. Cold. Colder than anyone could experience on Earth when the sun is up- but when the sun is up for 14 days, it gets very, very hot. No sign of life whatsoever. That is desolate. More desolate than any place on Earth.



Mr. Aldrin, do you watch movies about people going to space, if so, which one is your favourite?

I have watched many movies from martians coming to Earth in New Jersey in the form of giant snakes - this was a radio program created by Orson Welles, War of the Worlds - and I've read many science fiction stories, descriptions, by Isaac Asimov, but my favorite of course is Arthur C. Clarke. So 2001: A Space Odyssey. And then later on, I managed to arrange a cruise ship departing from Sri Lanka where Clarke lived, and I was able to stay with him, talking about many, many things in the past. I wrote a book along with Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins, called First on the Moon, and the epilogue was written by Arthur C. Clarke. When I wrote my book of science fiction, Arthur C. Clarke wrote a one page forward that was OUTSTANDING, absolutely, as he praised our ingenuity and imagination. And when we visited, we talked about a treasure he had discovered in the ocean, and we both hoped in the future that he and I could scuba dive and perhaps retrieve some of that treasure. That never happened, unfortunately.

I thought that the movie Gravity, the depiction of people moving around in zero gravity, was really the best I have seen. The free-falling, the actions that took place between two people, were very, I think, exaggerated, but probably bent the laws of physics. But to a person who's been in space, we would cringe looking at something that we hoped would NEVER, EVER happen. It's very thrilling for the person who's never been there, because it portrays the hazards, the dangers that could come about if things begin to go wrong, and I think that as I came out of that movie, I said to myself and others, "Sandra Bullock deserves an Oscar."



Do the pictures of space do any justice to the real thing?

Yes, they do. They recall (for me) the actual experience of myself in space - not by words, not by print, but visual reminders, it brings back a very in-depth appreciation. They can be used very well for communicating in speeches, talks, and more to other people who can actually see what i saw and what the camera saw.



Hi Mr. Aldrin!
What advice would you like to give to a lab full of aspiring engineers and astrophysicists?
And...
What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

COCONUT ICE CREAM.
Don't waste your time on beaming people up or down. Instead, consider gravity waves as advanced physics of the universe that could be used to travel interstellar distances. And ENJOY floating in space, rather than being decomposed or recomposed in another location.



What advice can you give to current undergrad aerospace engineering students?

Drive over to the nearest airport, and enroll in flight classes. You will experience the joy of freedom in the air above, as you study the mechanics of how this is made possible by understanding the construction, the laws of motion, the air that can provide lift when it is moved by propulsion through the air, and stay above the gravity pulling the airplane back down to earth.



Hello Mr. Aldrin! Is there anything you regret not getting to do while in space?

On the Gemini mission in space, on my doctoral thesis at MIT, those techniques were used by Gemini, Apollo and even the space shuttle. But I was very disappointed when it looked like I wouldn't even have a chance to fly in the two-man Gemini program! I was not scheduled to be anything other than the back up crew. A tragedy changed that, and I was a backup pilot on Gemini 9, and then I would be on the primary crew for Gemini 12, the final mission. The #1 air force experiment was on Gemini 9 and 12, but its use was unsuccessful on Gemini 9, and so I became the first astronaut to train underwater in neutral buoyancy. I had been a scuba diver 10 years earlier, and knew that training underwater would be very very effective, and I felt very confident of carrying out the difficult procedures to be able to free-maneuver outside the spacecraft with the equipment (this is what George Clooney's character was doing with the jetpack in Gravity) - unfortunately NASA cancelled that experiment.



Col Aldrin, what went through your head when you first looked back and saw the Earth from space?

"Where are the billions and billions and billions of people, on what I'm looking at? We're the only 3 that are not back there."
And we didn't get to celebrate. Because we were out of town.



How did you guys decide who would walk on the moon first. Was it always going to be Neil from the beginning or was there some Rock Paper Scissors matches to decide?

I felt that there was an obligation on my part to put forth the reasons why a commander who had been burdened down with an enormous amount of responsibility and training for activities (and because of that, in all previous missions, if someone, a crew member, was to spacewalk, it was always the junior person, not the space commander who would stay inside). We knew this would be different because 2 people would be going out. There was a group at NASA who felt the junior person (me) should go out first, but many people felt the great symbology of the commander from past expeditions or arrivals at a destination. The decision that was made was absolutely correct as far as who went out first, symbolically. However who was in charge of the what happened after both people are outside, I believe, could have been done differently. I was not the commander, I was a junior person, so once both were outside, I followed my leader, because we (NASA) had not put together detailed jobs of people outside. I believe it could have been improved. But it was very successful for what it was. And the decision wasn't up to me, or Neil, it was up to people much higher up in NASA.



Mr Aldrin, what do you consider your biggest accomplishment that's totally unrelated to space?

I was very close to the top of my class at West Point. And I continued to expand my understanding of the world around me, and the human evolutions here on earth, the achievements perhaps to other people are impressive when I tell them that not only have I been to the North Pole, I haven't been to the South Pole yet, but I have been to the Titanic in a little yellow french submarine. It took an hour and a half just to sink down in the ocean about 2 miles deep to look out the thick glass window and see the Titanic. The visibility was such that we could see the bow, it became very famous in the movie thanks to James Cameron, but the visibility was not so good that you could actually see the bottom of the ocean that the Titanic was resting on. So it was an eerie site, of a ship festooned with rusting metal, like gingerbread. Floating, floating out the window in the Ocean.



How does it feel to be THE REAL buzz lightyear? Also how can I be an astronaut and go to the moon?

I am @theRealBuzz on Twitter!
They wanted a name that is better than Lunar Larry - and it became Buzz Lightyear because they wanted it to be more genuine. So now that I have changed my name from Edwin Eugene Aldrin, Jr. to Buzz Aldrin, I'm seriously thinking of adding a middle name - so it would become Buzz "Lightyear" Aldrin.

My sister called me "Buzzard" when I was a baby - she couldn't say "Brother" so I've been Buzz my whole life.



Hello Mr. Aldrin!
Our nation and our world have been waiting for another monumental achievement by humanity ever since you were a pioneer in the space race and set foot on the Moon. For lack of any serious government effort, I’m rooting for Elon Musk to accomplish this by sending man to Mars. What advice would you give Elon to achieve the ultimate objective of permanence on Mars?

There is very little doubt, in my mind, that what the next monumental achievement of humanity will be the first landing by an Earthling, a human being, on the planet Mars. And I expect that within 2 decades of the 5th anniversary of the first landing on the moon, that within 2 decades America will lead an international presence on Planet Mars. Some people may be rooting for Elon - I think he could, with his SpaceX, contribute considerably, enormously, to an international activity not only at the moon but also on Mars. I have considered whether a landing on Mars could be done by the private sector. It conflicts with my very strong idea, concept, conviction, that the first human beings to land on Mars should not come back to Earth. They should be the beginning of a build-up of a colony / settlement, I call it a "permanence." A settlement you can visit once or twice, come back, and then decide you want to settle. Same with a colony. But you want it to be permanent from the get-go, from the very first. I know that many people don't feel that that should be done. Some people even consider it distinctly a suicide mission. Not me! Not at all. Because we will plan, we will construct from the moon of Mars, over a period of 6-7 years, the landing of different objects at the landing site that will be brought together to form a complete Mars habitat and laboratory, similar to what has been done at the Moon. Tourism trips to Mars and back are just not the appropriate way for human beings from Earth - to have an individual company, no matter how smart, send people to mars and bring them back, it is VERY very expensive. It delays the obtaining of permanence, internationally. Your question referred to a monumental achievement by humanity - that should not be one private company at all, it should be a collection of the best from all the countries on Earth, and the leader of the nation or the groups who makes a commitment to do that in 2 decades will be remembered throughout history, hundreds and thousands of years in the future of the history of humanity, beginning, commencing, a human occupation of the solar system.



What's the most frightening moment that you have ever experienced in space?

I believe it was after leaving the surface of the moon and completing a successful rendezvous with Mike Collins in the command module, as we approached connecting / docking, the procedures in the checklist said one thing, and I thought maybe doing it a slightly different way, rolling and pitching instead of something else, and I thought that was better on the spur of the moment! It turns out that it was not a good thing to do, because it caused the platform to become locked, and we were not able to use the primary thrusters, the primary guidance, to control the spacecraft, to its final few feet to dock and join the other spacecraft. That was my mistake. I suggested to my commander that we do it differently, and it was his mistake to assume that i knew what I was talking about. So we both made mistakes - brought about by me! We recovered successfully on the "abort guidance" system.
(I don't admit that to many people)
(but I'm sure the mission controllers in Houston, while it was happening or certainly afterwards, they certainly knew what had happened, but fortunately they didn't squeal on us)



Sir, I just wanted to take a moment and say thank you for your push for Mars. You and the crew of 11 have, and continue to be an inspiration for all of us. As for a question: what can we, the American public, do to help push the powers that be into legitimate funding for new manned missions to back to the moon or to Mars? Thank you again!

We in the United States cannot come close to the return to leadership that the United States had 45 years ago, and shortly thereafter. The lack of funding that supported missions to the Moon and return, a pioneering effort for humanity, required 4% of the national budget of the United States. Now we are at 1/2 of 1% and have been that way for quite some while. To those of us that feel that America is a leader, it was, we helped win WWI, WWII, the Cold War, and we can lead the other nations in peace, just the way that the plaque on the moon that Neil and I left, "We came in peace for all Mankind" - I believe that that is so American, to do things, and share with other nations of the world. That's how we should go back to the Moon, not by competing with other nations, like China, to land our people - we've done that. The robotics, the operation of rovers and such at a great distance, has improved tremendously in the last 45 years. I don't believe the human mind has increased that much at all. So let the other nations of the world put their citizens on the surface of the moon for prestige - that is a major reason why nations put their people on the Moon. But we've done that, we can help the other nations, and we can help other nations use our facilities, and then we can deploy a radio telescope on Mars via balloon and design a strong suggestion for what the lunar base should be, on the near side & the far side, we can help in the construction of those elements, and we can bring those elements that are landed by other countries (because they are heavy, expensive) - we can bring them together and then the interface between elements that will come together in a complicated way because this is in a gravity field with uneven terrain, it's not as simple as the space shuttle docking with the space station, or any spacecraft, and zero gravity, it's much much more difficult, it requires (from a distance) bringing them sufficiently close and aligning them so that the two interfaces from adjacent cylinders (that may be 20 feet in diameter, 30 feet long, vertically part of the the shared space onboard the base) and from each one of these 3 can emanate 2 different nations for a total of 6 different individual nations growing outward for their habitation and laboratories and to control robots on the surface, to establish a distinct presence and yet sharing with the other people who have their personnel and their astronauts or the front or back side. But that is the great contribution of the United States, technically, but it's not a contribution that requires great investment of money for big rockets, and sustaining people on the surface.
Returning to the Moon with NASA astronauts is not the best usage of our resources. Because OUR resources should be directed to outward, beyond-the-moon, to establishing habitation and laboratories on the surface of Mars that can be built, assembled, from the close-by moons of Mars. With very little time delay - a second or less. Much better than controlling things on the Moon from the Earth. So when NASA funding comes up for review, please call your lawmakers to support it.

Back in the 60's and 70's when we were achieving in competition with the Soviet Union, but also to stimulate the United States to improve its technologies and science, we (the United States) won clearly the race (if you want to call it that) to the Moon. And I believe that that demonstration of the perseverance, the dedication, the depth of the industrial capacity of the United States went a long ways to convince Premier Gorbachev that the Soviet Union could not match - the announcement by President Reagan that we would develop a strategic defense initiative, branded by the media in a detrimental way, as "Star Wars" - it, I believe, was a major factor in the ending of the Cold War and the separation of the Satellite Nations around the U.S.S.R. It gave us peace. It reduced the Nuclear Weapon threat worldwide.
So we are now very interested in science, technology, engineering and math. When we went to the moon and thereafter shortly, we were number one, and I think that there are many children's books - I have written 2 so far, and I have another one that is well underway on National Geographic that follows my adult book, Mission to Mars and my vision for space exploration. I think that reading to children will help inspire that interest in aerospace, and many other supporting career fields. Not everyone can be an astronaut and go into space, some people with sufficient resources can purchase and fly sub-orbitally thanks to various companies and for more money (considerably) fly into orbit. For a million dollars, the Russians would take two people, a million apiece, around the moon and back. However, stories, videos that come from the space station, and other people, are a great inspiration to young people for an exciting career field.



Hello Mr. Aldrin,
If you were given the opportunity to go to the Moon again, would you?

My intellect now, having been there, and developed, and thought about humans going to Mars, has been so intense and so very useful to the future, I think I need to continue to think and plan and marry all of the different things that we could do that make transportation in space from the earth to the space station, from the earth to the moon to space stations around the moon to visiting an asteroid, which the President said we should do - when he observed in 2010 in his first term that humans should visit an asteroid by 2025. And I believe we should do that again, but we should have a robot slowly conserving fuel, so that in 1, or 2 years, get there just after a crew has arrived on the same asteroids. Combining those 2 without a human being, and with a human being, each has significant limitations but when those are put together, on the same asteroid, you are able to do much, much more for that mission in 2025, or 2026, or 2027, than the present mission that NASA and some of Congress and some of the President's office feel. So no - because I am needed here on earth to focus on opening up these opportunities, and also because the budget would not be there.



If you had the opportunity to speak to the crew of the first manned mission to Mars prior to launch, what would you say to them?

Realize that you are perhaps the most ambitious, the most historical pioneers that the earth has produced since its beginning.
And you are given a great honor in spending the rest of your lives pioneering for mankind.
AND HAVE FUN!



How were the cast and crew of 30 Rock? Anything memorable you can share?

Well, 30 Rock means 30 Rockefeller Plaza. My father, in 1925, 1926, in the Reserve of the Air Corps, worked as Aviation Fuel Manager for Standard Oil of New Jersey, that's where I lived at that time, and he would go into NYC and work at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. So when I was asked to consider participating, I jumped for joy, and I can't remember a more pleasant episode of discussions with Tina Fey as we talked about her fictitious mother's (I think it was) love affair that she had with me, Buzz Aldrin. And then we looked at the Moon, and we both sort of cursed at it for various reasons and said - I'll never forget the line - "I walked on your FACE!"


Mr Aldrin, I am interested in what kind of music a highly distinguished astronaut such are yourself would find yourself listening to. Could you enlighten me?

Well, I prefer the soft singing voice of Karen Carpenter. I have heard Frank Sinatra sing "Fly me to the Moon" almost too many times. So I'm interested in composing a new song, entitled "Get your ass to Mars!"



Does actual astronaut food taste as bad as the novelty stuff we can randomly buy in stores?

I think it has been very selected and prepared for long duration trips in a partial atmosphere and in zero gravity, where a can of peas or rice or whatever would pretty soon be all over the cabin! In the Simpsons I played a role where I opened a bag of popcorn and it was all over the place. Bart Simpson said "no no no! don't open that!" The taste was generally pleasant. But it was mostly freeze-dried so we had to add water to the container and let it set - and around the instrument panel and other parts of the spacecraft, we had certain places we had velcro so we could attach things so we wouldn't have to hold onto each one or have it float around the cabin. We had to use a water gun to send water into the plastic bag with the freeze-dried food. Now later on, things got much better and they were more like TV dinners that I remember - I don't see too many these days - as long as the food has some stickiness to it, it won't float around, but if it is like M&Ms, that are used in training with zero gravity, they're all over the place, and so would water form into spheres and float around in the cabin! So the crewman has to be very careful about adjusting to a lack of gravity sensation. We had very small shrimp that had a little bit of cocktail sauce, and when exposed to water, were very very tasty. But you wouldn't want a shrimp an inch long floating around the cabin!



Thank you for doing the AMA!
Ever find time for computer games like Kerbal Space Program? I've gotten 3 kids more interested in math and science after showing it to them.
Have a fantastic day!

I have inspired my own video games, 10, 20, 30 years ago, and now there is in Europe a video challenge, a video activity, entitled "Buzz Aldrin's Space Program Manager." And there game players can build their own space program from the beginning, and from where we are now on into the future, with some of the components that I believe will make great progress in our transportation systems between the Earth and the Moon and Mars in a long-standing reusable way into the future. I'll have to check out Kerbal Space Program.



Mr. Aldrin,
I've always been curious what it would be like to experience reentry. What kind of emotions and thoughts did you experience when falling back to the earth?

I had 2 re-entries: one in 1966 and one in 1969. In 1966, it was the last reentry in the 2-person Kennedy program. So I held a camera up against the window to film the flames from the heat shield that was behind us, but foremost in the spacecraft, and the flames were going backwards, away from us, in the front, and I was holding the camera and taking photographs. The g-forces increased and I wasn't able to continue to hold the camera against the window, so I had to lay it back against my chest, but still continued to photograph the re-entry until there was no more unusual visual effects of the energy in the atmosphere. And it was very comforting to understand that the people in Houston, the controllers, had very high confidence that we were on the right path. And the right path means that as you enter the atmosphere, the lift of the spacecraft is down to be able to capture the trajectory from the moon, and once that is assured, that the spacecraft won't skip out, we now roll the spacecraft so the lift vector is up, it's predicted by the computer, as basically a target, moving it up to where it now was exactly where we wanted it to be, and then we could roll the spacecraft so that it no longer had increasing lift in any direction but had zero lift, effectively, and we would guide it down to a point where we could then deploy automatically a device that would slow us down enough that then at 10,000 feet, the 3 parachutes would come out, a little lower the pressure of the atmosphere outside was greater than inside, and we could smell the salt air and it was very encouraging to return to earth.

We didn't jettison the parachutes soon enough, so the impact on the water moved my fingers away from the circuit breakers, which had to be pushed in before Mike Collins, throwing the switch to jettison the parachutes, could take place! So the parachutes pulled us over, and allowed the spacecraft to float upside-down rather than right side up. Now the engineers were very surprised in the early testing of the spacecraft in water to discover that it would float upside-down as well as right-side up. So they devised a system of inflating big balloons that would then turn the spacecraft right-side up. We had to do that.



Do you believe in aliens and what are the sightings you saw aboard Apollo 11?

On Apollo 11 in route to the Moon, I observed a light out the window that appeared to be moving alongside us. There were many explanations of what that could be, other than another spacecraft from another country or another world - it was either the rocket we had separated from, or the 4 panels that moved away when we extracted the lander from the rocket and we were nose to nose with the two spacecraft. So in the close vicinity, moving away, were 4 panels. And i feel absolutely convinced that we were looking at the sun reflected off of one of these panels. Which one? I don't know. So technically, the definition could be "unidentified."
We well understood exactly what that was. And when we returned, we debriefed and explained exactly what we had observed. And I felt that this had been distributed to the outside world, the outside audience, and apparently it wasn't, and so many years later, I had the time in an interview to disclose these observations, on another country's television network. And the UFO people in the United States were very very angry with me, that i had not given them the information. It was not an alien. Extraordinary observations require extraordinary evidence. That's what Carl Sagan said. There may be aliens in our Milky Way galaxy, and there are billions of other galaxies. The probability is almost CERTAIN that there is life somewhere in space. It was not that remarkable, that special, that unusual, that life here on earth evolved gradually, slowly, to where we are today.
But the distances involved in where some evidence of life may be, they may be hundreds of light years away.



Was it more challenging to go through the training to become an astronaut, or to actually go to space?

Yes, it was challenging to understand what was necessary to successfully carry out all the training simulations that we, as crewmen, would experience, and make a very successful use of that training and education. Training was much more extensive, and we dealt with many recoveries from emergencies, and fortunately, participating and observing and existing through the reality of space was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and it was not marred by unexpected hazards or catastrophes.



How do you feel about people who claim you faked the moon landing?
Can you describe how the moon felt to you? (Was it an adrenaline rush when your feet hit the surface? Was it soft or hard? Could you feel temperature through the suit at all?)
Funniest moment during the mission to the moon and back?

I personally don't waste very much of my time on what is so obvious to a really thinking person, of all the evidence - we talked about Carl Sagan recently, who made a very prophetic observation. He said that "extraordinary observations require extraordinary evidence to make them believable." There is not extraordinary evidence of (as far as I know) all the claims that have been made that we did NOT go to the Moon. There are photographs from lunar reconnaissance orbiter satellites, going around the moon, that clearly show all of the experiments that we described when we came back from the moon, and they are evidence that we were there, telling the truth, you can even see a trail of Neil Armstrong's trek (not footprints really but the stirred up dust in walking or jogging behind him) to see the west Crater that we had flown over, that Neil was concerned about landing close to that - and he took photos of that and then he went back to the spacecraft. I was back inside the spacecraft at this time, but looking at the photos of Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiters, you can clearly see the evidence of Neil's trek. And he took photographs, and all the signs are still there. Our flag in Apollo 11 was, without the doubt, the best looking flag that was stuck on the moon. But it was close to the spacecraft, so when we lifted off, Neil observed that the rocket exhaust caused the flag to strike the ground, to fall over. And by this time, I'm sure the radiation in space has deteriorated every piece of cloth on the flags, whether they are flying on the surface or standing up. We perhaps in the future will have very accurate rovers that can approach the different landing sites, and perhaps make available to people back on earth the ability to control a video scan, get out elevations, with floodlights to illuminate during the 14 days of darkness - I believe this will be very inspiring to people back here on earth, if we have the funds to do that, it would be great to do that.
The space suit had a soft interior to the shoes, and when the boots got put over the shoes, there is much cushioning effect, and the light weight due to the reduced gravity and the thickness of the dust, made it difficult to sense the feel of the surface. it was so remarkable, the way the bootprints were left, with such strong definition of the soil underneath, like moist talcum powder I guess, it keeps its shape, so I photographed before and after, pictures of the surface, and then I thought that looked a little lonely, so I put another bootprint down, and moved my foot a little bit so you could see my foot and the bootprint.
I have since been told by a comic, by a humorist, what humor really is - but just as we were leaving the moon, I had given some thought to this, and I was able to create two achievements of humor in one sentence.
When Mission Control said, to us, as we were about to leave "Tranquility bass, you are cleared for liftoff," I responded by saying to them "Roger, Houston, we are number one on the runway."
There wasn't anybody else for us to be 2, 3, 4 to! But there wasn't any runway up there either!
It's a phrase most pilots hear many times - "Roger Tower, acknowledge we are number 3 for takeoff on the runway" Because there are people waiting before us in an airplane to start take off. Pilots always get it. We are not going to roll ahead with increasing speed, we were going to lift off straight UP the way we left the earth!.



How often do you use "Yeah well I walked on the moon" as a trump card for arguments?

I don't thinK I've ever really used that. I don't want to be shockingly bragging. I would rather people understand that there is a very, very fortunate American who was given the opportunity, and was in the right place at the right time to have the moment of a lifetime. My mother was born - her name was Marianne Moon. And she was born in 1903, the year that the Wright Brothers first flew. I participated with great honor in becoming one of the first to land on the moon, and now I am devoting and have devoted many years of my life to enabling Americans to lead international nations to permanence on the planet Mars. I was lucky enough to have been born on this planet earth, in this admirable country of the United States of America.



Hello Col. Aldrin. Thanks for doing this AMA on my birthday :)
Canadian astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield has said that being an astronaut and a test/fighter pilot requires you to constantly train in every worst case scenario so that you are prepared for everything. He eloquently said "as a pilot you are always thinking 'What's the next thing that's going to kill me?'". This has influenced his life and his mindset in very small things on his every-day life, like traffic, preparing what to say to famous people, thinking what to do if there's a fire in the building, etc.
Have you had this experience? Is there anything you learned from being an astronaut, 8 hours of EVA and a fighter pilot that you applied to your every day routine or maybe changed your perspective or attitude towards life?

Yes.
I realized that unfortunate things may occur, anytime, to anyone, just as disastrous events may occur - to pilots, to combat pilots, or to those in space. To appropriately respond to an emergency requires a very clear mind, to cooly analyze what the observations are and how to fix it. Fear and worry are emotions that cloud the mind from being able to think clearly, to remember what the procedures are to deal with that emergency. Dwelling on an engine failure for a pilot as he rolls down the runway is NOT what he should be thinking about - it's obtaining a smooth liftoff! But in the back of his mind, he knows exactly what to do (or pretty much) and in many cases, if he's alone in the fighter aircraft, he has to leave that aircraft in an ejection seat in a big hurry!
When I am getting ready to cross a street, I look both ways before crossing. My bones, my muscles, are not what they used to be, so I am careful when I go up and down stairs, because I've heard stories of older people falling and having very disabling injuries. I have enough things that begin to go a little bit wrong as I get a little bit older. I'd just as soon not have major catastrophes to have to deal with. So I very carefully move around, avoiding dangerous situations.



Hi Mr. Aldrin - Thank you for joining us!
One of my heroes is Carl Sagan, and, as far as i have read, he worked with NASA during the Apollo missions - so did you ever get to meet him, and if so; what were your impression of Carl Sagan?

Yes, I did. I met Carl Sagan and his wife. Both were very dedicated people to explaining to young people and to all people the benefits to be derived from space, the history of how our universe was formed, and the history of the advancement of the technologies that hundreds of years ago, enabled present day nations to use them to begin to add more science discoveries in space. And to write stories and television series that reach many people and after his passing away, you have a rejuvenation of the series COSMOS, featuring a very good friend of mine, Neil deGrasse Tyson. We were on a commission together to look at the future of space activities for the United States, that was about 12 years ago, and we've been good friends ever since. I was on his TV show. He did Michael Jackson's moonwalk far better than I did on Dancing With the Stars.



How tempting was it to lay in the moondust and make moon angels?

That was not at all tempting. I wanted my white spacesuit to remain as clean as possible!



Hello Mr. Aldrin! I just wanted to ask you how was your day? And say that you are one of my heroes. Thank You!

Well, I woke up before the alarm went off so I could re-arrange all of the pills and vitamins that I have to take with me on my next trip. Then I enjoyed reading the newspaper, having a cup of coffee, and beginning to eat my breakfast. I haven't finished it yet, and my watch says "10 minutes to 1" in the afternoon.




my first time getting to any AMA that is not days old and i have no idea what to ask so i'll just ask. Have you ever eaten a burrito? Also thank you.

Absolutely yes!



What is your absolute favorite aircraft to fly today?

Well, I'm sure it would still be the most favorite airplane in my career of flying - the Sabre F86 cleft wing , which allowed me to be credited with 2 Russian-built Mig-15 destroyed during the Korean War. Where I was in 1953.



What is your favorite type of cheese?

Since we're talking about the Moon, it'd have to be American Cheese.



Hello Mr. Aldrin! If it was you, not Neil, who took the first steps on the moon, what would you have said?

I think the words that he used, about the actions of the moment, and what they meant, in the future or for the greater understanding of mankind, were somewhat similar to my words that were spur of the moment. His 'giant leap for mankind' and my observation of the desolation and magnificence that was on the moon, viewed by any individual who would look out and observe with their eyes, the actual visual confirmation of what we intellectually understood we were looking at - but to actually see - something so unlike anything that could be observed on earth. It was "what can one person do" and "what do we know about earth."

2014/07/05

Il Countdown Demonstration Test (CDDT) di Apollo 11: la prova generale

di Paolo Attivissimo. Questo articolo vi arriva grazie alla donazione per il libro “Luna? Sì, ci siamo andati!" di serberg*.

Il Countdown Demonstration Test o CDDT fu la prova generale finale del lancio dell'Apollo 11 svolta tra il 26 giugno e il 3 luglio 1969. Fece svolgere al lanciatore Saturn V, al veicolo spaziale Apollo 11, all'equipaggio e al personale di lancio la sequenza completa di lancio, compreso il rifornimento di propellente. La parte “bagnata” (con propellente a bordo) del CDDT si concluse il 2 luglio; poi il propellente fu svuotato dai serbatoi e fu svolta la parte “asciutta” del CDDT, che coinvolse l'equipaggio e si concluse con successo il 3 luglio con un lancio simulato alle 9:32 del mattino, ora della Florida.

L'equipaggio effettuò una vestizione completa delle tute spaziali e fu portato in furgone alla rampa di lancio, dove simulò l'ingresso nella capsula.

Foto KSC-69PC-338

Il 4 luglio, festa nazionale statunitense, l'equipaggio restò a casa a Houston con le rispettive famiglie: l'ultima occasione di stare insieme prima della partenza.

Alcune fotografie del CDDT sono raccolte nella Apollo 11 Timeline.

Fonti: Spacehistory.tv; Dmuller.net; Asi.org; Spaceacts.com; A Man on the Moon, Andrew Chaikin, pag. 181. 

2014/05/14

La cerimonia di dedica dell'Armstrong Flight Research Center (Dryden)

di Paolo Attivissimo


Il celeberrimo centro di sperimentazione aeronautica Dryden Flight Research Center, che si trova nella base militare di Edwards in California enel quale hanno mosso i primi passi generazioni di astronauti e di aerei straordinari, è stato da poco ribattezzato Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center. Questo è il video della cerimonia formale, tenutasi ieri. A cantare, da 5:11, è una voce molto speciale. Non mancano altri ospiti altrettanto unici. Buona visione.