The year 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. This historic mission landed men on the Moon for the very first time and then safely returned them to Earth to tell the tale. To honor this milestone, The Corning Museum of Glass has developed an exhibit called Journey to the Moon: How Glass Got Us There which showcases the role of glass in the lunar landing. The exhibit displays samples of the same glass materials used in the space suits (to protect the astronauts) and spacecraft (to insulate the command module), as well as a glassy lunar meteorite. But there are many other stories we didn’t have space to tell! Here are some of those lesser-known stories.
Many of the systems onboard the Lunar Module relied on computers and high-tech equipment, so you might not realize how critical it was for the astronauts to perform their own calculations during the lunar landing. The Lunar Module used an instrument called an altimeter to measure the altitude above the Moon’s surface. Earth-based altimeters in airplanes do this by measuring the atmospheric pressure. However, the Moon has no atmosphere, so the Lunar Module’s altimeter worked with radar. The radar altimeter solved the problem of a lack of atmosphere on the Moon, but it was unreliable for altitudes above 30,000 feet. To know how far above the Moon they were, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had to determine their altitude themselves.Read more →