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IAU Names Two Lunar Craters to Honour NASA’s Apollo 8

The Apollo 8 craters were named by the IAU's Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature

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Moon dust collected by Neil Armstrong
The Apollo 11 Contingency Lunar Sample Return Bag used by astronaut Neil Armstrong, to be offered at auction, is displayed at Sotheby's in New York, July 13, 2017. VOA

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has named two lunar craters to honour NASA’s Apollo 8 spacecraft, 50 years after the historic voyage carried three astronauts into orbit around the moon for the first time in 1968.

Named “8 Homeward” and “Anders’ Earthrise”, both craters are visible in the iconic earthrise colour photograph image shot by Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders, the IAU said in a statement on Friday.

The image depicts the moment that our shiny blue Earth came back into view as the spacecraft emerged out of the dark from behind the grey and barren Moon.

“This is arguably the most famous picture taken by Apollo 8. It became iconic and has been credited with starting the environmental movement,” the IAU said.

Apollo 8
The Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature of the International Astronomical Union has today officially approved the naming of two craters on the Moon to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission. IAU.org

Since the Moon is tidally locked to the Earth — it always has the same side facing the Earth — the Earth will never appear to rise above the surface to someone standing on the lunar far side.

Orbiting around the Moon, however, gave the Apollo 8 astronauts this stunning view.

Anders, mission commander Frank Borman and James Lovell became the first humans to reach the moon after they blasted off atop a giant Saturn 5 rocket on December 21, 1968, and braked into orbit around the moon that Christmas Eve.

After 10 orbits, broadcasting images back to Earth and giving live television transmissions, the crew returned to Earth and landed in the Pacific Ocean.

planet, apollo 8
A planet-like object, dubbed “Sedna” is seen in this artist’s concept released by NASA, March 26, 2014. A similar dwarf planet, nicknamed “the Goblin,” has been discovered well beyond Pluto.. VOA

Six-and-a-half months later, Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon’s surface, taking “a giant leap for mankind”.

Also Read: Voyager Probe 2 May Be Close to Interstellar Space: NASA

The Apollo 8 craters were named by the IAU’s Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature, the authority responsible for naming planetary features across the solar system. (IANS)

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Mars Rover’s Mission Now Over, Confirms NASA

Opportunity landed on Mars on January 24, 2004. First among the mission’s scientific goals was to search for and characterise a wide range of rocks and soils for clues to past water activity on Mars

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Mars Rover 2020. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

NASA has announced the end of its Opportunity rover’s mission, 15 years after its arrival on Mars.

The announcement was made on Wednesday at a press conference at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, following NASA’s last attempt to communicate with the rover on Tuesday night which got no response, Xinhua reported.

The rover last communicated with Earth on June 10, 2018, as a planet-wide dust storm blanketed the solar-powered rover’s location on Mars. It has not been heard from for eight months since then.

Opportunity likely experienced a low-power fault, a mission clock fault and an up-loss timer fault, according to the mission team.

Team members have tried to rouse the rover ever since, and radiated more than a thousand commands to restore contact. However, no signal was heard from again.

“Saying goodbye is hard, but it comes the time,” said John Callas, project manager for Opportunity.

“It is because of trailblazing missions such as Opportunity that there will come a day when our brave astronauts walk on the surface of Mars,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

“When that day arrives, some portion of that first footprint will be owned by the men and women of Opportunity, and a little rover that defied the odds and did so much in the name of exploration,” he said.

Also Read- Know How NASA’s Opportunity Mars Rover Enriched Space Science

The golf-cart-sized rover far exceeded its planned 90-day mission lifetimes. It has worked for nearly 15 years and travelled over 45 km by the time it reached its most appropriate final resting spot on Mars — Perseverance Valley.

Opportunity landed on Mars on January 24, 2004. First among the mission’s scientific goals was to search for and characterise a wide range of rocks and soils for clues to past water activity on Mars. (IANS)