Echos of Apollo Online

Follow the Apollo 11 mission in real time at wechosethemoon.org for the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11. The site comes complete with a gorgeous mission animation that shows the viewer what stage the mission is in as the data loads in the background. Once the page opens up we are treated to various interactive modules like photo and video galleries featuring material from the current stage of the mission as well as an oddly placed JFK and Apollo gallery.

The best part is the real-time audio stream. As I am writing this, the astronauts are asleep and every 15 minutes mission control interrupts the static to essentially report how long they have been asleep and that the mission is progressing nominally. As boring as that is… it sure makes it real and takes those too young to have been a part of it as close to knowing how that might have felt to follow this historic event. Of course, the whole thing peaks on the 20th with the real-time streaming of touch down at Tranquility Base.

Also see NASA’s newly restored footage of Apollo 11 and Neil Armstrong’s magnificent first step.

Visual Online Solar System

http://janus.astro.umd.edu/SolarSystems/ Simple yet informative online model of the solar system. I knew Jupiter had over 60 moons, but you don’t really visualize that until you see a model in action (seen above). The thing that really becomes clear is how many minor moons orbit WELL beyond the orbits of the major moons of the outer planets. It also provides models of some of the more well-known extrasolar planetary systems to the extent of bodies that we are currently aware of.