Apollo 11, as seen through Google Moon
September 28, 2011 10:22 AM   Subscribe

The descent of the Apollo 11, plotted with Google Moon Pictures from the actual moon landing side-by-side with Google Earth, as the lander descends. [via]
Also, try the Google Earth KML file for the Apollo 11 landing.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike (22 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
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posted by Hoopo at 10:35 AM on September 28, 2011

Ten stars for that! Excellent in every way. I just overcooked a pot of string beans.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:38 AM on September 28, 2011

The amazing part of this is where they take footage from the window of the lander, and match up the crater spotted out the window with the exact same view in Google Moon. So cool!
posted by JHarris at 10:43 AM on September 28, 2011

Neat stuff.

I'm endlessly fascinated by Apollo and the work that led up to it.

And let's agree right now, Neil Armstrong had some mad skills.
posted by dglynn at 11:13 AM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

bonobothegreat: I just overcooked a pot of string beans.

Did it lead to overcooked beanplating?

Seriously though... this is all kinds of awesome.

*grabs popcorn*

*sits back and waits for moon landing hoaxers to try and explain why onboard footage from the lander accurately matches modern lunar surface imagery exactly, including details that were too small to have been photographed and mapped out from earth back then*

posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:15 AM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

See how easy it is to fake it?
posted by waitingtoderail at 11:19 AM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Well, they're using the same set obviously....
posted by ceribus peribus at 11:20 AM on September 28, 2011

The music actually did serve to remind me how amazing and thrilling an accomplishment it was. At the time of the landing, my parents were half my age. I can only imagine what it was like to be alive then.
posted by Jon_Evil at 11:52 AM on September 28, 2011

Jon_Evil, my grandfather worked on Apollo. Things he built with his hands are up there on the moon. My mother worked on Surveyor, and so we got to see Uncle Pete bring a part of something she'd worked on back home to Earth.

Dude, it was the best.
posted by Captain Ligntning at 12:19 PM on September 28, 2011 [5 favorites]

Wonderful stuff. Seeing the oncoming descent stage, in the Google Moon view, gave me a little thrill of "Wow, it's still way over there! How are they going to get into position?"
posted by jiawen at 1:55 PM on September 28, 2011

If you're interested in the Apollo program check out A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts and the DVD Moon Machines. The first tells the story from the viewpoint of the astronauts, the latter from the viewpoint and obvious passion of engineers. Voices from the Moon: Apollo Astronauts Describe Their Lunar Experiences is a more sharply focused version of Man on the Moon, by the same author and his wife, but filled with some of the most gorgeous photos from the program and quotes from the astronauts about their experiences. It's clearly a labor of love and worth the price.

The best autobiography by an Apollo astronaut is Michael Collins' Carrying the Fire. It covers both his Gemini and Apollo flight and really gets into the training and dynamics of both flights, along with some of his most private thoughts and feelings (he was really worried Neil and Buzz wouldn't make it back). It's almost criminal that he didn't walk on the moon, as he was the best writer of the bunch. The biography of Neil Armstrong is pretty good if you want to know his whole life story (before and after Apollo) and lots of nitty gritty details about Apollo 11.

Buzz Aldrin's Magnificent Desolation was mindnumbingly boring and self indulgent.

Deke! by astronaut chief Deke Slayton covers Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and initial missions of the Space Shuttle. It is excellent, both for behind the sciences information and plain, direct writing style. Highly recommended.

Frank Borman's (Apollo 8) Countdown, Jim Lovell's (Apollo 8,13) Lost Moon (the basis for the moon Apollo 13) and Eugene Cernan's (Apollo 17)The Last Man on the Moon. Rocketman, about Apollo 12 Commander Pete Conrad (who almost became the first man on the moon), is a damn fine read too, just be warned that it takes artistic license with some of the details of Pete's missions, but it seems to capture the spirit of the man.

And let's agree right now, Neil Armstrong had some mad skills.

I've read that the commanders of the various Apollo missions only spent a few minutes actually piloting the lunar module. But those few minutes needed every ounce of their 20 odd years of flying high performance, hundreds of hours of simulator training and practicing the lunar landing.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:05 PM on September 28, 2011 [4 favorites]

Cool idea, presenting a real-time tracking of the descent, matched up with the original footage, but I can't escape the feeling that this was about the LEAST interesting way for the project's creator to present the results. I mean, it's more or less a slide show showing us pretty much exactly the same view as seen in the original footage. What's the point? To demonstrate how accurate his "matching things up" abilities are?

Once he had the path mapped out, why not use the opportunity to show, say, a distant overhead view of the landing? (as hinted at with the push-pins at the beginning) Or perhaps a wider-angle "pilot's eye view," which would highlight some of the reason's behind Neil's piloting decisions (i.e. the sudden left turn towards the end)

The push-pin section of the video showed a lot of promise for a new & interesting view of the event, but once they get into the second half, it really didn't do anything beyond saying "see, the craters in the movie match the craters on Google Moon."

I hope it doesn't sound like I'm hating on it too much, because I enjoy anything having to do with the Apollo program. I just wish they'd done more with the video, once the technique of mapping out the flight path had been achieved.
posted by ShutterBun at 2:09 PM on September 28, 2011

Apollo 11: descent | ascent
Apollo 12: descent
Apollo 14: descent | ascent
Apollo 15: descent | ascent | exterior view of ascent
Apollo 16: descent
Apollo 17: descent | ascent, both interior and external

The Lunar Module has several probes hanging off its legs. They were used to indicate when the ship was close to the moon. At that point, the commander would cut off the engine and let the ship fall the final three to six feet. See 3:25 mark of the Apollo 16 descent and the next 20 seconds for an example of that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:38 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Come all you good kind people
A story I'll relay
The brave and valliant voyage
Of the ship Apollo 8
On Christmas eve of '68
Three brave men called the tune
And sailed 230,000 miles
On a trip around the moon

December 21st it was
I do recall the day
Frank Boremen and James Lovell
And William Anders lay
Strapped tight into their capsule
The time was opportune
And like a bullet fired from a gun
They were off around the moon

Oh in that awesome void it is
As black as all midnight
And the stoutest-hearted fellow
Must sometimes pause for fright
Death stared them in their faces
For space might be their tomb,
But their courage was undaunted
As they sped around the moon

And what they saw they told us of
The craters and the sights
And never in all history
Had man beheld the like
No man can quite describe it
No neither late nor soon
It was without a parallel
That trip around the moon

Now Borman, Lovell, and Anders
Again are safe at home
The heroes of the world today
Their voyage it is done
They brought the great day closer
When men will leave the womb
And go following their footsteps
Far out beyond the moon
- Bob Coltman (Alias: Blind Robert Ward)
The Voyage of Apollo 8
posted by The White Hat at 3:41 PM on September 28, 2011

Previously posted (I'm sure), but most people don't know that Apollo 11 had a severe control instability that taxed Armstrong to his limits. Listen here as Armstrong calls out a "program alarm", "1202" followed in the second video by several other alarms. Each alarm Aldrin and Armstrong had to attend to, pulling their attention away from piloting and to the computer panel. Armstrong's heart was pounding at 150bpm...
posted by anthill at 6:10 PM on September 28, 2011

The thing I love as a sign of badassed levels of competence is that they landed on the moon and then proceeded to finish their flight checklist with the same calm level 'we have this shit under control' manner as if it was some utterly routine occurrence.

I love that test pilot deadpan thing. Things going well? Deadpan. Things breaking and your engines are on fire? Deadpan. Big purple alien caterpillars rear up from surrounding craters and start hula dancing when they're interrupted by the LEM landing? Fucking deadpan.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:52 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

to finish their flight checklist with the same calm level 'we have this shit under control' manner as if it was some utterly routine occurrence.

A common sentiment from the astronauts about actually going to the moon and landing on it was that it was a bit boring i.e. routine. They had spent so many hours in the simulators, where instructors made everything go horribly wrong, that when the actual flight when fairly smooth, a lot of the crews were like "uh, that's it?"

So yeah, it was an utterly routine occurrence. They had run through the sims a lot, ranking up hundreds of hours of simulated flights and landings.

Jim Lovell, commander of the ill fated Apollo 13, actually cherishes the challenge of that flight, because it really pushed him to the edge and he had to fight his way back. His thought process was that landing on the moon would have ben nice, but it would have been routine. Nobody faced the challenges he and his crew did and it's a point of pride that they were able to survive.

Jim McDivitt was the assigned commander (and therefore pilot) of the first lunar module test in space. When production of the LM got pushed back and he was offered the chance to command Apollo 8, the first trip around the moon, he turned it down. Why? 'Cause he was already in the slot to to be first guy to fly the lunar module and that was a test pilot's wet dream. Fuck the moon, I'm gonna the first spaceship ever.

Later, McDivitt was offered a chance to walk on the moon and turned it down, because he wouldn't be commander of the mission (he had commanded his previous two space flights). Talk about standards.

Gene Cernan did the same thing, turned down a guaranteed moon walking slot for Apollo 16, because it wasn't the commander slot. He got lucky and snagged Apollo 17, the last flight.

Sorry, I like this stuff and tend to babble about it whenever it comes up.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:17 PM on September 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

I've never really understood the boulder field that Armstrong had to navigate over until now. This video is all kinds of awesome. Tides of crap hit the Internet shores daily, but genius work like this video makes it all worth it.
posted by pashdown at 9:50 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Listen here as Armstrong calls out a "program alarm", "1202" followed in the second video by several other alarms .

The 1202 and 1201 alarms were highlighted briefly in the miniseries "From the Earth to the Moon," and it was interesting to watch as the technician basically had to make a judgement call that they were still "go" on those alarms. (basically it was just a case of the on-board computer getting too busy and overloaded with tasks)

On a recent visit to Boeing's Museum of Flight, I saw a mock-up of one of the Mission Control panels, complete with a hand-written program alarm checklist. Note that the 1201 and 1202 alarms would have resulted in an abort had they been continuous, as opposed to intermittent.
posted by ShutterBun at 2:54 AM on September 29, 2011

Another good book is Moon Lander: How We Developed the Apollo Lunar Module, written by the guy, Tom Kelly, who actually designed and oversaw the building of the Lunar Module. It's get into the contract negotiations, early studies by Gruman and various design problems they had transforming a set of drawings into something physical. How amazing was the lunar module? It was the world's first and so far, only, manned spaceship in way (it couldn't fly on the Earth), yet was the reliable ship of the Apollo program, with no major failures. Hell, on Apollo 13, it exceeded its designed capacity.

Also, while landing was tricky, the take off was what had a lot of people worried. It usually takes weeks and thousands of people to launch a rocket from earth. On the moon, the Lunar Module had hours and two guys. Yet it worked as planned, every time, which pretty amazing considering they no way to test it under actual lunar conditions. Supposedly Neil felt they had a 50/50 chance of actually taking off.

If you're curious about how Neil Armstrong got that sweet, sweet job, I wrote up an article tracing his steps for MeFi Mag. You can download a pdf of the issue or order a print copy.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:53 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Gene Cernan, the last man on the moon, plays the Eagle Lander 3D simulator. “Get rid of that 1201 alarm.”
posted by planetkyoto at 5:08 PM on September 29, 2011

Oh hey, just found this excellent article that gives a blow by blow account of what was happening on the LM during the Apollo 17 descent. Damn fine reading!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:24 AM on September 30, 2011

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