On this day in history – the moon landing goal was announced
In 1961, the formal announcement of an American lunar landing was made by President John F. Kennedy speaking to the Congress: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space program in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important in the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.”
Since, a total of twelve men have landed on the Moon. This was accomplished with two US pilot-astronauts flying a Lunar Module on each of six NASA missions across a 41-month time span starting on 20 July 1969 UTC, with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on Apollo 11, and ending on 14 December 1972 UTC with Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt on Apollo 17. Cernan was the last to step off the lunar surface.
|Lunar crater Daedalus on the Moon’s far side|
All Apollo lunar missions had a third crew member who remained on board the Command Module. The last three missions had a rover for increased mobility.
The atmosphere of the moon
The Moon has an atmosphere so tenuous as to be nearly vacuum, with a total mass of less than 10 metric tons (9.8 long tons; 11 short tons). The surface pressure of this small mass is around 3 × 10−15 atm (0.3 nPa); it varies with the lunar day. Its sources include outgassing and sputtering, the release of atoms from the bombardment of lunar soil by solar wind ions. Elements that have been detected include sodium and potassium, produced by sputtering, which are also found in the atmospheres of Mercury and Io; helium-4 and neon from the solar wind; and argon-40, radon-222, and polonium-210, outgassed after their creation by radioactive decay within the crust and mantle.
The absence of such neutral species (atoms or molecules) as oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen and magnesium, which are present in the regolith, is not understood. Water vapour has been detected by Chandrayaan-1 and found to vary with latitude, with a maximum at ~60–70 degrees; it is possibly generated from the sublimation of water ice in the regolith. These gases can either return into the regolith due to the Moon’s gravity or be lost to space, either through solar radiation pressure or, if they are ionized, by being swept away by the solar wind’s magnetic field.
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