Walking On the Moon
On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 successfully landed on the Moon. Neil Armstrong was the commander of the voyage, and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin was with him. Together, these men managed to walk on the Moon, and it was televised. According to reports, 600 million people were watching the Moon landing on that July day. Neil Armstrong could be heard saying, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” This was a huge moment in United States history.
Whenever a significant occurrence occurs, whether it is good or bad, there are always people out there who will say it didn’t happen. There are conspiracy theories surrounding 9/11, the Sandy Hook Massacre, Princess Diana’s murder, John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and even the Moon landing.
The “Moon Landing Hoax”
Conspiracy theorists say that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin never landed on the Moon. In fact, they say that a spacecraft was never sent to the Moon. These people believe that the entire thing was faked in a sound stage at Area 51 to make it appear that we landed on the Moon. At the time, we were in the midst of the great space race, and these people believe that the United States faked the Moon landing to get a leg up in the race. This is very insulting for not only Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, but also the people who worked on the mission behind the scenes. These unsung heroes of the Apollo 11 Mission made the first steps on the Moon possible, and they aren’t even getting the recognition that they deserve. One of the unsung heroes had been working on getting man to the Moon before the subject was even discussed.
Gerard Kuiper had an idea. At an International Astronomical Union meeting in 1955, he suggested a project to make a map of the Moon. Shockingly, only one person responded. He thought that with the use of state-of-the-art telescopes, he could create an accurate map.
Current Moon Maps
At this time, the only lunar atlas we had was a hand-drawn image, which we weren’t even too sure if it was accurate or not. When Gerard mentioned creating a map of the moon, many people thought that it was a bad idea. He was told that telescopes were used to see distant objects, and the Moon wasn’t really that far from Earth. They also told him that geologists are the ones who make maps. Not astronomers.
Working On His Own
When Gerard didn’t get the response that he was hoping for, he didn’t give up. He decided to start working on the map of the Moon on his own. In 1960, he moved his operation to the University of Arizona in Tucson. He thought that he would have better results in Arizona due to the region’s many mountaintops and clear skies. Also, the university was willing to move the field of study out of the traditional boundaries. Even though people didn’t agree with the project, Gerard didn’t let it stop him.
Send a Man To the Moon
A year after Gerard proposed his project, President John F. Kennedy announced his plan to send a man to the Moon and back safely. Suddenly, Gerard’s project made sense. If a man was going to land safely on the Moon, we were going to need an accurate map. It wouldn’t be safe to land a spacecraft in an unmapped area; therefore, the need for a map of the Moon became a national priority.
Kuiper’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory
Suddenly, Gerald and his study had some merit. For the next several years, he made progress creating better images of the Moon using telescopes build for that purpose. Later, his organization used images from robotic spacecrafts to the Moon to get a sophisticated view and photos of the Moon’s surface.
One of the most impressive feats of converting the telescopic images into crucial information came from a man named Ewen Whitaker. He was the only person to join Gerard in 1955 in his mission to make a map of the Moon. He even moved to America to join him in Arizona. When the robotic Surveyor 1 made a soft landing on the Moon in 1966, the mission team analyzed the data and reported where they believed that they had landed. They were wrong, and Ewen let them know. He used his best telescopic image and compared what hills should be visible in what direction, and let everyone know that the original data was a few miles off.
If it weren’t for Gerard and Ewen, the Moon landing might not have happened, and it certainly wouldn’t have been successful. While Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin got all the attention, Gerard and Ewen deserve a lot of credit as well.