- The Chicago Astronomer -
Copyright 2004-2014 All rights reserved by Joseph Guzman Administrator/Founder/Chief Astronomer.
All text and images are the property of the original authors/artists and shall
not be used without permission.
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Nov 10, 2012 8:10:09 GMT -6
Apollo astronauts to have footprints set into concrete at Adler to mark Apollo 17 anniversary
CHICAGO — Three Apollo astronauts will have their footprints set into concrete next week at Chicago's Adler Planetarium in a ceremony to honor veterans of the program's final mission.The event on Tuesday will mark the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 17 mission, the 11th and final manned flight to the Moon for NASA's Apollo program.
Apollo 17 astronauts Harrison Schmitt and Capt. Eugene Cernan will be on hand, along with Apollo 13 astronaut Capt. James Lovell, Jr.
Their footprints will be displayed at the planetarium.
Schmitt piloted the lunar module in the December 1972 mission. He and Cernan spent three days on the Moon's surface collecting lunar rocks and evidence of volcanic activity. Cernan is the last man to have walked on the Moon.
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Nov 14, 2012 17:59:29 GMT -6
Apollo Astronaut 40yr Anniversary Hand/FootPrints Ceremony at the Adler Planetarium
13 November 2012
In celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the last manned Moon mission, (Apollo 17), the surviving astronauts, Captain Eugene Andrew Cernan and Senator Dr. Harrison Jack Schmitt were honored with a Foot/hand print impression ceremony at the Adler Planetarium. Fellow Apollo 13 astronaut Captain James Lovell Jr was also part of the ceremony.
The event started out on a sunny afternoon with Adler Planetarium President Dr. Paul Kappenburger welcoming members of the media and a run through on the activity. The fast drying cement will be mixed just before needed and a 90 second wait while the cement forms around the feet and hands of the astronauts, in which questions may asked while waiting. Dr. Knappenberger also mentioned that the imprints will be on tactile public display, covered with a shellac-like protectorant so that the Adler visitors will be able to touch the imprints.
Three tables were situated in the room, where a Moon Boot, gloves and a stylus was waiting for each of the astronauts...
The Airforce Academy High School was present with several of their ROTC cadets in assisting with the ceremony. The Air Force Academy has entered into a partnership with the Adler to foster participation in astronomy and space endeavors of their students.
Each astronaut was introduced, starting with Capt. Lovell...
...proceeding to Dr. Schmitt...
...and finally Capt. Cernan....of which Dr. Kappenberger mentioned in the introduction - that Cernan has a thing about coming in last...
The three astronauts entertained questions from the media while the cement was mixed. One questioned about the mouse on Apollo 17 and which one was their favorite. Apollo crew member Ronald B. Evans was in charge of the experiment, which was to study the effects of cosmic ray exposure on tissue. Schmitt mentioned that Ron had names for all the 5 pocket mice on board.
Schmitt eased into biomechanical effects of extended stays in space, in an example, of how quickly calcium is depleted in bones, but also, how quickly the body reabsorbs the mineral upon returning to the gravity of Earth. Unlike Osteoporosis, which is permanently lost. Further investigation on why this is so, will help future generation with the disease. Also, Schmitt described the conditions of weightlessness, in that your center of gravity of gone and one must adjust from the momentary state of confusion. As an example, he stated that most of the training for flying the lunar module was done on their backs, but in space, he flew the craft standing up and things were different - things were not where he remembered visually and the muscle memory learned was no longer practical and had to be re-trained. He and Cernan also shared that gravity forces one to move carefully and from a different part of the body...higher up.
The mixing of the cement made the question and answer session a bit difficult...
Another question was what would be the limiting factor for astronauts on extended missions...radiation, weightlessness...boredom? Schmitt stated it is never boredom, but radiation could pose a problem. It is well known that water, is a great buffer...but that it is heavy and impractical to surround a space craft with water, but perhaps something will develop...especially the work on the ISS. But, out there in space might be a source to extract water...and a good source would be on the Moon.
A question was asked where/what NASA should be working on. Schmitt stated that certainly a manned Mars mission should be pushed, but it would be easier to go there via the Moon - with permanent settlements on the lunar surface. A follow up question was if vertigo was an issue looking at the Earth. Cernan shared that no, in that they observed the Earth "upside down" and in all angles. The human being is exceptionally adaptable to conditions and took the crew all of 10 minutes of acclimate...no vertigo.
Being so far away from Earth, it was asked if it was lonesome in space. Schmitt pointed at Cernan and said " How could I, I had him around!". Cernan piped in that there were millions of people monitoring their every activity, with nary a private moment. No, lonesomeness was not a problem.
A question for Cernan was, what was the most indelible moment he experienced while on the surface of the Moon. He stated that just being on the Moon...was a memorable experience. Accepting that in that moment in space, history and time as truth...what they did was real and not science fiction. And looking back at the Earth, at it's overpowering beauty, surrounded in blackness, space and time and infinity.
At this time, the cement was ready for the imprints and the astronauts donned on their protective gloves...
A special note: The watch that Schmitt is wearing, flew along with him during the Apollo 17 mission...
The Cadets assisted with the gloves...
The wooden trays were brought before each astronaut and with the help of the cadets, imprinted their hands in the fresh cement...
Another three boxes of wet cement were brought out for the booted footprints...
Cernan told the cadets that "Hey, that's a right boot you are putting on my left foot!" But relented and said that it's ok and it didn't matter much.
Waiting for the 90 seconds, the astronauts entertained interactions with the media crew. I had asked Cernan if he still comes around to his Pilsen/Bellwood house where he grew up. "No, not really", he said, but he would like to visit St. Anthony hospital where he was born, and asked me where it's at. I told him, around California and 16th streets. "Is that close" he asked me. "Not too far from here" I said. (I was half tempted to take him there after the event... )
It was asked if any of the astronauts experienced flashbacks of the trip to the Moon. Cernan said that he never...ever had a dream about being on the Moon. He may day dream once in awhile, but never had a flashback..."and some people find that odd" he says. He would like to go back there physically and not just in his head...just find a way for him to do so, and he would go.
With the 90 seconds completed, the boxes were raised up to the tables for their signatures...
(I could not position myself to capture Lovell's imprinting.)
Capt. Cernan dedicated this moment and his imprints to his Mom and Dad...for whom he owes everything to and could not have walked on the Moon without them. "I gotta tell you, as I sit here and do this....growing up in Bellwood/Maywood, if my folks were still alive today, I don't know if they would believe it....but they sure as hell be proud!" Asked on how his parents made it possible for his accomplishments, he answered: "They didn't push me into science, but were good parents. My Dad always used to say one thing to me - "I'm only going to ask you to one thing for the rest of your life and all of your life. Just go out and do your best. And you are not gonna do better than everyone and at everything...you are gonna surprise yourself". And he was 100% right."
His parents lived in Bellwood Illinois, but his Mom moved out to Seattle after his Dad passed away. Cernan moved to Pensacola then to San Diego, which he still has blood relatives in this area.
"But, we are going to go back to the Moon and toward to Mars one day", says Cernan. "But before we do, we gotta get our physical house in order. I don't mean NASA, I'm not with NASA anymore, but as an American...we are probably not going to go much of anywhere...just a fact of life. And it's not how much money you have, it's how you spend it. And I don't think we are spending our money of what we have at NASA...at least not the way I would spend it" He added..."Let me tell you, ever since Kennedy challenged us to go to the Moon, Congress has been very Bi-partisan on space. After testimonies to Congress, in my experience - very very bi-partisan" Cernan added...."I also would like to say something about this celebration. I like to think, it's not about Jack, it's not about Lovell, it's not about me or Apollo 17 or the last steps on the Moon. It's about what we did as a nation - from the first steps of Alan Shepard to the final flight of Apollo. That's what this great nation is about. I remember someone asked my "Did the flights before you help?" If we, as a nation, stood on the shoulders of giants to get to the Moon in the first place, I can tell you - Jack and I...stood on the shoulders of the Jim Lovells and of our colleagues to make Apollo 17 a success. And, that's what this is all about!"
Schmitt added: "I want to mention one thing about Jim, see if he remembers. Back, several months before our flight, I approached Alan Shepard, who was then our boss. I suggested that we bring the Astronaut Training Corps into NASA and that we increase the amount of simulation training out into the field - actual simulated field training. Shepard said, "Well if you can get Lovell to do it and be the first guinea pig...then go ahead. So I went to Jim, told him about it and embraced the idea enthusiastically about training that way...and that made all the difference in the world in the returns we received during the last several missions. Jim didn't get the chance to practice what we learned unfortunately, but never the less, just embracing it and going to Apollo 15 astronaut Dave Scott and telling him, "You need to do this kind of training"...it made all the difference in the world and I just want to thank Jim again for being willing to be that guinea pig."
Cernan piped in: "On a lighter moment about Jack Schmitt. Jack found... the Orange soil on the Moon on Apollo 17. I would have never found it. He's the lunar geologist and he was looking for certain things and I was looking at the big picture. But when he yelled "Geno, I found orange soil!!!" I kept thinking...Uhm, you have been here too long or running out of oxygen...or something is going on here! But, sure enough, I couldn't believe it...he found orange soil and wasn't sucking up too much oxygen. I didn't know what it meant, but he found it".
Schmitt responded: "It's meant a lot and one of those gifts that keep on giving. Just in that last two or three years, we know have the tools to go inside those little tiny orange beads. Those beads are smaller than the eye can resolve. And inside those beads...is water. And that's the first absolutely indigenous water than anybody has found on the Moon! Before this, everybody said the Moon is dry, (other than ice at the poles). But where did that ice come from? The prevailing idea has been that water came from comets. Now, maybe we have to think that perhaps water came up through volcanic eruptions and moved to that cold trap in the polar regions. So that, orange dust keeps on giving and giving." he concluded.
With that, the event planners thanks everyone for coming and the astronauts were interviewed independently by various media outlets...
After the ceremony, Dr Knappenburger sat with The Chicago Astronomer for a quiet chat about the day's event:
"Today, we are kicking off the 40th Anniversary celebration of the Apollo 17 mission. And we have two of the three Apollo astronauts, Dr. Harrison Schmitt who was the first scientist and geologist on the surface of the Moon and Eugene Cernan, who was Commander of the Mission. The Lunar Module pilot Ronald Evans passed away several years ago. And, we had Jim Lovell from Apollo 13, who is also on our board here at the Adler. And, it's great to have him involved here in events like this. The three of them agreed to have their hand and footprints cast and captured in quick drying concrete. We will apply a shellac of some sorts and put the prints out in our "Shoot for the Moon" gallery, so that people who come here, especially the youngsters, who will put their hands inside the hand prints or their foot inside the footprint of the astronauts...and imagine their future as a space explorer".
"Gene Cerman was born here in Chicago and has fond memories of visiting the Adler when he was young and Jack Schmitt has been at the Adler on numerous occasions to give lectures ad talks to members...and he now has a new book out on his experience as lunar astronaut".
Dr. Kappenburger has been at the Adler a little over 21 years and will be retiring at the end of the 2012 calendar year. He will look back with pride at what the Adler team has accomplished during his time at the museum - transforming the Adler into a very exciting place to explore space. "Our theme is "Join us in exploring space" and expect all of our visitors to do so. One of the first things we did, was to build the Glass Sky Pavilion that wraps around the 1930's building. And it provides this marvelous view of Lake Michigan, to the skyline and to the sky above. And because our subject area is space and space exploration, we really wanted to open up the Adler and then we filled it with interactive exhibits that engage the visitor. We try to bring exploration to life and tell the stories of heroes of individuals who have been to space...but also tell the stories of engineers and scientists who are now working on building new space crafts exploring other planets."
"The Granger Theater is our most recent project. Our goal was to be able to take our visitors on a space trip through the Universe and put them on the observation deck of a futuristic spaceship and fly out to a star that is going supernova or to the black hole in the center of our galaxy....or out among the other galaxies that are colliding and merging...and let our audience experience that first hand. It's a way of exciting curiosity and motivating people to learn about what's out in space".
Dr. Knappenburger is both a Professional and Amateur Astronomer. with a PhD in astronomy from the University of Virginia and accomplished research in optical astronomy. And, a very active and enthusiastic amateur astronomer as well, with several telescopes, one of which he built himself. He often lugs them out in his back yard, east of Chicago. "When I moved out there 21 years ago, I could see the Milky Way...but that's not true anymore", he says.
"Saturn is always impressive in the eyepiece", he says, He also recalls viewing the comet that collided with Jupiter and observed some other beautiful comets. Comet Hyakutake was a beautiful one, as was Hale-Bopp. He agrees with the Chicago Astronomer that each comet has a personality, remembering that Comet Holmes was surrounded with a beautiful green glow. He also tries to astrophotgraph as well.
Kappenburger has intentions to run for President of the International Planetarium Society and if fortunate to win the six year commitment, will be working with Planetariums throughout the world on collaborative programs and addressing the issue of S.T.E.M (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), education.
All Astronomers, space enthusiasts and visitors to the Adler Planetarium thank Dr. Paul Knappenburger for his contributions to the study and enjoyment of the cosmos during his tenure... and will be leaving the museum a better place for the next generation.