Tech UPTechnologyThis is what happened after Apollo 11 landed on...

This is what happened after Apollo 11 landed on the moon


“This is one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” In this way -and with the omission of the indefinite article ‘a’- began what many writers and visionaries have been imagining since in the second century the Syrian Lucian of Samosata wrote True Stories (or True History ), a satire against the sources historical accounts citing fantastic and mythical events as true. In this work, a ship is dragged to the Moon by a waterspout and there the crew members meet its inhabitants, who have no anus, their eyes are removable and those who give birth are men.

Armstrong, for 20 minutes, was the only man on Earth walking around another planet. Then Aldrin came down, who also has his share of glory: he was the first human to urinate on her . Upon landing on the Moon, Aldrin peed, unluckily enough that the pee ended up on his boots because his urine collector broke after the moon landing. Evidently, he didn’t say a peep to his partner or to Houston.

NASA had scheduled a two and a half hour ride , which in the end turned out to be too short for all they had to do. At first, the astronauts were attached to the Lunar Module by a security cord, but seeing that there was no danger, they unhooked and began to carry out the tasks entrusted to them. Among them are the obvious actions when you arrive in a new world: place a plaque commemorating the anniversary . Armstrong had already discovered a stainless steel one on the ladder before setting foot on the Moon with the text in capital letters “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon, July 1969 AD We came in peace for all mankind” next to it. with the signature of Nixon and the three astronauts. And, of course, they had to install the necessary television cameras so that no one on Earth would miss a thing.

An interplanetary conference call

Soon Armstrong received a very special phone call: President Richard Nixon: “This is probably the most important phone call ever made from the White House,” he said. Then they began to deploy the scientific experiments. As it was not very clear if in the end they were going to be able to do something because there was a risk of having to abort the mission, the geologists convinced NASA to allow those experiments that could be placed or carried out in 10 minutes . So Apollo 11 did not carry the full geological test kit it was designed for, but rather an abbreviated one. It was all about timing: the entire kit took between one and two hours to deploy, and Armstrong and Aldrin were only going to spend two and a half hours on the surface. So they couldn’t go very far either: they were placed 20 meters from the lunar module. What they installed was a laser reflector intended to precisely measure the Earth-Moon distance (proving that we really did reach the Moon), an aluminum screen intended to collect particles from the solar wind designed and built by a Swiss team from the University of Bern and the famous Technological Institute of Zurich, and a passive seismograph to detect the ‘moonquakes’.

Of course, everything they did was not glamorous. One of the peculiar experiments that Aldrin had to do was to kick the ground and see the trajectory that the lunar dust followed . “Most of them [the dust grains] come out at the same angle and speed,” he said. He then had to assess “the thermal effects of the sun and shadow inside the suit”, for which he had to stand in the sun and then stand in the shadow of the lunar module to see if he noticed any difference in temperature. The suit cooled him perfectly but he said he noticed a change in temperature in the helmet. The last one consisted of checking “the shades and colors of the surface”: everything was a “very light gray” color.

the patriotic moment

After setting up the science equipment, it was time for a patriotic moment: planting the US flag. It may seem simple, but it was difficult for them to drive it into the ground – they could only go about 5 cm deep – and they feared that it might fall in front of the cameras… but it held. They also deposited a 3 cm silicon disc with messages and greetings from the heads of state of 73 nations of the world -Franco, and therefore Spain, is absent-, in addition to the names of those responsible for Congress and the four committees those responsible for legislating about NASA (politicians also have their hearts), the medals sent by the families of the Russian cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin and Vladimir Komarov (the first human being to die in a space flight, during reentry), and the badges of the Apollo 1 in memory of the astronauts killed when the spacecraft caught fire on the launch pad.

But they had to hurry: they were going slower than expected and it seemed that he was going to have time to do everything that was planned. They wanted to speed up to meet all the targets but then Mission Control used a code phrase to warn Armstrong that his metabolic rates were high and he needed to slow down a bit. You have to cut back and you can only do one task: the collection of lunar dust and rock samples. In the end they only took 22 kilos.

As metabolic rates remained lower than expected for both astronauts, Mission Control allowed them to spend an additional 15 minutes on the Moon’s surface. Years later, Armstrong explained that NASA limited the time (2 hours and 40 minutes) and the distance (300 meters) on this first moonwalk because they did not know the amount of coolant (water) they were going to consume to maintain an adequate temperature inside. of the suit . That’s why the first thing the astronauts did when they walked on the Moon was a “surface mobility assessment”: basically it was to walk and transmit to Houston if it was difficult for them to move.

But all good things come to an end and they had to return to the Lunar Module. The first to enter was Aldrin. When removing their helmets, the two astronauts perceived an intense and very unpleasant odor that reminded them of wet ash and gunpowder : it was the moon dust that they had stuck to their boots. Why it smelled that way remains a mystery. Now calmer, the time they did not want to sleep before going down, they recovered: 4 hours and 20 minutes of restful sleep. During this time the seismograph they had set up recorded Armstrong’s movements as he slept .

Apollo 11 was not really a paragon of scientific research, nor was it ever intended to be. The fundamental thing was to verify how a human being unfolded on another planet, to lay the necessary foundations to be able to develop the true work program that would arrive with the following missions.


Chaikin, A. (1996) A man on the Moon, Penguin Books

Slaves and Disabled: Forced Medical Test Volunteers

The main problem to carry out medical research is to have willing volunteers for it. And if they come out for free, much better. This is the story of unethical behavior in medical research.

How are lightning created?

Summer is synonymous with sun, but also with storms. Who has not contemplated one from the protection that the home gives that electrical display that is lightning?

How global warming will affect astronomy

Astronomical observations around the world will worsen in quality as a result of climate change, according to a new study.

New images of Saturn's rings in stunning detail

New images of Saturn's rings in stunning detail

NASA discovers more than 50 areas that emit exorbitant levels of greenhouse gases

NASA's 'EMIT' spectrometer locates has targeted Central Asia, the Middle East and the US among others.