And Have You Wondered Why All The Kids Have Suddenly Gone Space Crazy?
Have you noticed that there’s been a steady increase in the level of space obsession over the last 18 months? We’ve certainly seen it in the shop. The usual intrigue about where we sit in the solar system and fascination with the moon has ramped up.
SO WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?
It’s super simple actually, this year is the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing and it’s the perfect reason to be chatting about all things NASA and space related.
A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY
On July 16th 1969, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins left the NASA Kennedy space station in Florida on the Apollo 11 lunar expedition. It was four days later, 20th July, as Collins orbited the moon in the Command module, that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed the Lunar module ‘Eagle’ on the moon’s Sea of Tranquility. These two astronauts were the first humans to set foot on the moon and Armstrong’s famous words were transmitted back to Earth; ‘that’s a small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’.
The two astronauts spent two and a half hours collecting various samples of the moon’s surface and conducting experiments.
Obviously they placed an American flag on the moon and took lots of photographs and they all returned safely from their mission, landing in the Pacific Ocean west of Hawaii on July 24th, history having been made and the USA a nose ahead of the Russians in the space race.
WHAT IS THE SPACE RACE?
The moon has always had an enormous influence on our Earth and on humans. For thousands of years it has guided time keepers, helped with navigation and affects our gravity, the earth’s cycle and the tides.
After the second world war, the idea that we could get to the moon became a possibility. It was the development of long range ballistic missiles towards the end of the Second World War that ultimately led to the ‘space race’.
Post war the US and Soviet Union created their own missile programs. The development of long distance rockets made space travel a real possibility.
1957 – The Soviet Union launched their artificial satellite ‘SPUTNIK 1’ into space.
1958 – The first US satellite ‘EXPLORER 1’ went into orbit.
1961 – Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit the earth in ‘VOSTOK 1’.
1961 – Alan Shepherd was the first American to fly into space. The same year that John F Kennedy pledged that they USA would be ‘landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth within a decade’.
1962 – John Glenn was the first American to orbit Earth.
1969 – Apollo 11 successfully landed on the moon and returned safely to earth.
Since the Apollo 11 mission there have been six crewed US landings and numerous uncrewed landings.
IS THE MOON MADE OF CHEESE?
The shadows and Emmental type craters on the moon look a little like the Swiss cheese with holes. So the moon looks a bit like it could be made of cheese. In actual fact initially the moon would have been molten, a result of a likely impact of an object the size of Mars colliding with the Earth around 4.5 billion years ago. The collision would have thrown up debris from both bodies creating our natural satellites including our moon.
Over time the ‘molten ocean’ of the moon would have crystallised and less dense rocks would have worked their way to the surface to form the lunar crust. The surface that Neil Armstrong first set foot on was dusty and today the moon’s terrain is made up of an array of different sized particles from huge boulders to tiny powdery particles. This is a result of billions of years worth of asteroids, comets and meteorites pulverising the surface as they impact on it in space.
When we look up at the moon from Earth we can clearly see dark and light patches. The darkest areas are ‘mara’, from the latin word for sea. The most well known of these is The Sea of Tranquility where the Eagle landed. These are the deeper basins from large impacts and would have been filled with lava 4.2 to 1.2 billion years ago. The differing shades are due to the different ages and composition of the rocks.
So, not cheese at all, but covered in craters and potholes.
OUR TOP SPACE PRESENT IDEAS FOR YOUR LITTLE ASTRONAUTS
It won’t be long before the kids are back at school. If they have been bitten by the space bug, look at these as an idea to make lunch times out of this world. If you’re off to the beach and packing a picnic these will be great too.
And you’ll need a bag to put them in, this one is insulated and made from recycled plastic bottles.
When your little one is off back to school or off to the swimming pool, this bag will be perfect for packing all their things into.
And who wouldn’t love to have one of these space rocket lolly sponges.
After the kids have been playing in the sea, climbing trees and jumping in muddy puddles, this will be just what you need to encourage your little adventurer to get squeaky clean.
THE FIRST ANIMALS IN SPACE
The first animals to go to space were fruit flies. These were launched in a Nazi V2 rocket on 20th February 1947. They were rocketed to an altitude of 68 miles and were parachuted black to Earth safe and sound.
A few years later on 15th August 1950 a mouse was launched into space to an altitude of 85 miles, but sadly this did not end quite so well; the rocket disintegrated and the parachute failed to open.
During the 1950s the Soviet Union launched a total of 12 stray dogs on various missions. The most famous was a dog called Laika who rocketed into space on 3rd November 1957 in Sputnik 2. Sadly Laika also died due to stress and heat a few hours into the orbit of the Earth.
On 19th August 1960 Sputnik 5 was launched and successfully took two dogs, Belka and Strelka, as well as a rabbit, 42 mice, two rats and some fruit flies, into space and returned them safely back to Earth.
Over the following years, more and larger animals were sent into space and they may well become a crucial part of space travel as we spend more time exploring our solar system.
Did you know you can see Luke Jerram’s Museum of the moon in Dorset?