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We Choose To Go To The Moon

JFK moon speech
Image Source: Wikipedia



Introduction

In July 2019, the whole world celebrated the 50th anniversary of the humans landing on the Moon.  One way we celebrated as a family was to attend the event organized by the Smithsonian Museum on the National Mall.  The story of the Apollo missions, including a depiction of a Saturn V launch was projected onto the Washington Monument.   It was an impressive multimedia usage of the monument and surrounding architecture.

Apollo celebration
At the National Mall celebration of the Moon landing.

There were also many films and documentaries that we enjoyed as part of this celebration.  One of these was "First Man".  One scene in particular stood out for me, and it involved Armstrong's  daughter Karen, who died at a young age.  The movie has a scene that shows Armstrong leaving behind on the Moon a bracelet of hers.  It struck me as such a unique privilege of an Apollo astronaut: to be able to leave something personal behind on the Moon.  Others left behind photographs and similar mementos.  

Karen's bracelet
Screen snap from Youtube video with the scene about Karen's Bracelet.

The MoonRanger Project

In November 2019, I received a request to participate in a review to critique the design of the MoonRanger project by Astrobotics.  This lunar mission is being done in cooperation with the Carnegie Mellon University, and consists of the Peregrine lander and the MoonRanger rover to test pioneering autonomy on the Moon.  When my daughter Stephanie was a student, she assisted with the design and construction of a precursor robotic rover, called "Andy".  Before Stephanie left the team, I met them and spoke to them for a few hours about space electronics design and construction.

Prior to this, I had reviewed many other projects, both inside and outside of NASA, and I expected this one to be another one and not particularly unusual.  However, during the MoonRanger review process I became aware of an exciting service they were offering as part of this mission.  This was the ability to (for a fee) send along a payload of material that would be left behind permanently on the Moon on the Peregrine Lander.  This service was called the "DHL Moonbox".  It sounded very exciting to me, and I decided to participate.

The first thing I had to decide on was what to send to the Moon.  It is well known that a single strand of hair contains the complete DNA of a person, and is stable enough to last at least thousands of years under the right conditions.  This form of tissue would be a great proxy to us.  At the end of this, we can literally say that part of us is on the Moon.  In addition, to represent our origins, I decided to include a small sample of sand or soil from three locations.  The first would be the beach of Aruba, which represents the island and its most well-known asset.  The second would be a sample of soil from my Mom's house in Aruba, to represent our family's origins.  Finally, I would include a small sample of the red Maryland clay soil, to represent where we currently live.

The Sampling Process

Sampling of the Aruban beach sand.  This sample taken near the
Aruba Beach Club where we spent many summers as a family, and
continue to be owner/members.


A sample from Mom's garden in Oranjestad, Aruba

Samples Collected
This is the collection of samples.  You can easily see the
Beach Sand (white), Aruba soil (black), and Maryland Clay (brown/red).

Moonbox
This is the nice little box to house the samples

Sample holder
The certificate showing the landing site is Lacus Mortis at 45N 27E.
The small hexagon near the bottom of the panel is the sample well our
item needs to fit into.

Samples
First I added a layer of our hair samples at the bottom of the well, and then
the three soil samples in separate corners.  You can tell the sample type
from the colors.  Top: Aruba soil, Bottom right:
Beach sand, and Bottom left: Maryland clay.

Official certificate from DHL Moonbox shipping service confirming our participation.
We shipped the sample on 02/02/2020.

February 2020
invite
We received an invitation in our work email to "Walk on the Moon"

The above event was the unveiling of a large room-sized print of the map of the Moon.  It allowed you to go and Walk on the Moon.  We decided to go to find the landing site for this mission.

This is the print of the Moon map.  On the bottom is the equatorial belt.  The polar caps are behind Stephanie.  Visitors were allowed to put yellow notes on the Moon map.


Our note at the landing site of this mission.  I was a little surprised no one else
had a note here.

on the moonon the moon

March 2020
I participated in the second review of the MoonRanger project by telecon.

September 2020
Astrobotic successfully completes Peregrine Lunar Lander Structural model testing.  This lander will hold our sample submission for landing on the Moon.

Lander
Structural model test (image from here)

Launch is in late 2021 from the Kennedy Space Center on the new Vulcan Centaur Rocket.  
More details here.

Under Construction

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