6th Man on Moon Edgar Mitchell, Dies at 85 on Eve of 45th Lunar Landing Anniversary

Apollo 14 astronaut crew, including Moonwalkers Alan B. Shepard Jr., mission commander (first) and Edgar D. Mitchell, lunar module pilot (last), and Stuart A. Roosa, command module pilot (middle) walk out to the astrovan bringing them to the launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.    Credit: Julian Leek
Apollo 14 astronaut crew, including Moonwalkers Alan B. Shepard Jr., mission commander (first) and Edgar D. Mitchell, lunar module pilot (last), and Stuart A. Roosa, command module pilot (middle) walk out to the astrovan bringing them to the launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Credit: Julian Leek

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell, the 6th man to walk on the Moon, passed away on Thursday, Feb. 4, on the eve of the 45th anniversary of his Apollo 14 mission lunar landing.

Mitchell passed away in West Palm Beach, Fla., just 1 day prior to the 45th anniversary of the Feb. 5, 1971 landing of Apollo 14’s Lunar Module “Antares.” Continue reading “6th Man on Moon Edgar Mitchell, Dies at 85 on Eve of 45th Lunar Landing Anniversary”

Sharing Memories of Neil Armstrong – Photo Gallery

Image Caption: Neil Armstrong at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Saturn V Exhibit (Control Room) for the 30th Anniversary of Apollo 11 on July 16, 1999. Credit: John Salsbury

In tribute to Neil Armstrong, first human to grace another world here’s a new gallery of unpublished photos to enjoy as shared by my good friend – space photographer John Salsbury.

Armstrong was the first person to walk on the Moon as the commander of NASA’s Apollo 11 flight in 1969. Neil passed away on August 25, 2012 at age 82.

Salsbury writes, “I was fortunate enough to be at the KSC Saturn Exhibit for this photo op of the 30th Anniversary of Apollo 11 on July 16, 1999. These photos were the best I could get using my Minolta XGM 135 mm and Kodak 1000 with no flash.”

On Friday August 31, a private memorial service was held in Cincinnati, Ohio (photos below) to pay tribute to Neil Armstrong. Numerous dignitaries attended the service including his two surviving crewmates Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins

Image Caption: Neil Armstrong Memorial. A memorial tribute from the Smithsonian is seen at the entrance of a private memorial service celebrating the life of Neil Armstrong, Aug. 31, 2012, at the Camargo Club in Cincinnati. Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission, died Saturday, Aug. 25. He was 82. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

NASA released this statement from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

“Today, we pay tribute to a pioneering American; an explorer, a patriot and an individual who, with ‘one small step,’ achieved an impossible dream. Family, friends and colleagues of Neil’s gathered to reflect on his extraordinary life and career, and offer thanks for the many blessings he shared with us along the way.

His remarkable achievements will be forever remembered, and his grace and humility will always be admired. As we take the next giant leap forward in human exploration of our vast universe, we stand on the shoulders of this brave, reluctant hero. Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon paved the way for others to be the ‘first’ to step foot on another planet. We have an obligation to carry on this uniquely American legacy.

A grateful nation offers praise and salutes a humble servant who answered the call and dared to dream.”

Read my earlier story about the passing of Neil Armstrong; icon for the ages and hero to all who dare mighty deeds – here

See more photos from the Neil Armstrong Memorial service in Ohio held on Aug. 31 – here

Ken Kremer

Image Caption: Neil Armstrong at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Saturn V Exhibit for the 30th Anniversary of Apollo 11. Credit: John Salsbury

Image Caption: Apollo astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Gene Cernan,& Walt Cunningham gather at KSC for the 30th Anniversary of Apollo 11 – Saturn 5 Exhibit Control Room on July 16, 1999. Credit: John Salsbury

Image Caption: Apollo astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Gene Cernan,& Walt Cunningham gather at KSC for the 30th Anniversary of Apollo 11 – Saturn 5 Exhibit Control Room on July 16, 1999. Credit: John Salsbury

Image Caption: Apollo astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Gene Cernan,& Walt Cunningham gather at KSC for the 30th Anniversary of Apollo 11 – Saturn 5 Exhibit Control Room on July 16, 1999. NASA Launch Commentator Lisa Malone holding mike. Credit: John Salsbury

Image Caption: Apollo 11 Astronauts Michael Collins, left, and Buzz Aldrin talk at a private memorial service celebrating the life of Neil Armstrong, Aug. 31, 2012, at the Camargo Club in Cincinnati. Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission, died Saturday, Aug. 25. He was 82. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Image Caption: Neil Armstrong Memorial – Members of the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard from Washington, D.C., present the Colors during a memorial service celebrating the life of Neil Armstrong, Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, in Cincinnati. Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission, died Saturday, Aug. 25. He was 82. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Why Are Lunar Shadows So Dark?

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A lunar boulder catches the last edge of the setting sunlight in this image from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera. The boulders litter the floor of an unnamed 3.5 km wide (2.17 mile wide) crater located within the much larger crater Lobachevskiy. The smaller crater’s rim casts its shadow along the left side of the image, and raises the question: why are shadows on the Moon so dark?

On Earth, air scatters light and allows objects not in direct sunlight to be still well-lit. This is an effect called Rayleigh scattering, named for the British Nobel-winning physicist Lord Rayleigh (John William Strutt.) Rayleigh scattering is the reason why the sky is blue, and (for the most part) why you can still read a magazine perfectly well under an umbrella at the beach.

On the Moon there is no air, no Rayleigh scattering. So shadows are very dark and, where sunlight hits, very bright. Shadowed areas are dramatically murky, like in the LROC image above, yet there’s still some light bouncing around in there — this is due to reflected light from the lunar surface itself.

Buzz was well-lit by reflected light, even in Eagle's shadow. (NASA/Apollo Image Archive)

Lunar regolith is composed of fine, angular particles of very reflective dust. It tends to reflect light directly back at the source, and will illuminate objects within shadows as well — as seen in Apollo mission photographs. Astronauts within the shadow of the landing modules were still visible, and their suits were well illuminated by reflected light from the lunar surface. Some people have used this as “proof” that the landings were actually filmed on a sound stage under artificial lights, but in reality it’s all due to reflected light.

Here’s a great run-though of the lunar landing photos and how lighting on the Moon works.

So even though air isn’t scattering the sunlight on the Moon, there’s still enough reflection to sneak light into the shadows… but not much. It gets dark — and quickly cold — in there!

And if you’re one of those who likes to get a better look into the shadows, here’s the same image above with the dark areas brightened enough to see details:

Shadow world revealed! (NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University/J. Major)

Some interesting boulder trails in there!

See this image on Arizona State University’s LROC news page here, and zoom into the full NAC scan here.