News items, both from Jan. 3: NASA craft New Horizons photographs Ultima Thule, a “small, icy object, the most distant celestial object ever explored,” states the Associated Press. It is 21 miles long, 4.5 billion years old and 4 billion miles away.
In a historic first, China has landed a rover on the dark side of the moon. China’s National Space Administration landed the craft, officially named Chang’e 4 in the South Pole-Aitken Basin, the moon’s largest and oldest impact crater.
This year brings the 50th anniversary of a historic event.
On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 landed, and human beings set foot on the moon, the only celestial object visited by humans. “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind,” Astronaut Neil Armstrong said.
This summer, Hood River News plans a retrospective to mark what was the biggest news event of 1969 and one of the biggest of the 20th century. We seek readers’ memories of one of mankind’s most extraordinary accomplishments, as well as their thoughts on the era of Chang’e, Ultima Thule, Viking, Voyager, Challenger, international space stations, and more.
Twelve men are in the Lunar landing club, with Harrison Schmitt and Eugene Cernan the last to do so, on Dec. 14, 1972.
Since that date, there have been no moon walks, yet a range of scientific and photographic explorations such as Voyager and the Hubble telescope have taught us much about the solar system and our galaxy. President Trump has called for an armed Space Force. Unmanned explorations of Mars have given the world new insights about apparent organic life on the Red Planet, and raised speculation from Elon Musk and others about planetary travel and even colonization.
As July 2019 approaches, we’re asking readers to think about answering one or all of three basic questions about the moon visits and space exploration:
We want to give people plenty of time to look back 50 years, as well as to consider the past and future of the “space age” in broader terms.
Between now and June 1, send your comments to Moon Memories, at email@example.com.
(Shorter is better, but we’re not putting any word limit on this.) — Kirby Neumann-Rea, editor