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UC Riverside to celebrate 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 moon mission


Last updated 7/8/2019 at 2:44pm

RIVERSIDE - Space enthusiasts from UC Riverside will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11's moon landing on Thursday with a series of activities, including lunar viewings, meteorite displays and talks about the future of galactic travel.

"Landing on the moon was probably the single most important achievement of humankind since the beginning of civilization,'' said Bahram Mobasher, a UCR professor of physics and observational astronomy. "This honor belongs to all humanity. It shows the power of our will and the strength of our desires -- a clear demonstration of what science can do.''

U.S. astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz'' Aldrin touched down on the moon on July 20, 1969. Armstrong was the first human being to set foot on the lunar surface, climbing out of the NASA Eagle space capsule 6 1/2 hours after landing, at what was declared "Tranquility Base.'' The two astronauts planted the American flag and left behind a plaque marking their presence and that they "came in peace for all mankind.''

Armstrong died in 2012. Aldrin is 89.

"For the first time in history, we were finally free from being restricted to only walking upon our planet,'' said Stephen Kane, a UCR professor of planetary astrophysics. "However, the famous quote of the landing being a 'giant leap for mankind' is more than just about scientific progress. It was an event that truly unified humanity and provided a key moment of reflection on how we are all custodians of our beautiful island oasis in a vast universe, and we should never lose sight of that big picture.''

Between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, staff from the university's Department of Physics & Astronomy will set up telescopes on Pierce Lawn for any member of the public to view the moon. There will also be a showcase of Martian meteorites for visitors to touch, and volunteers will be demonstrating, using small-scale models, how craters are made on the moon.

Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences professor Timothy Lyons will be giving a talk at the Life Sciences Building titled, "Fifty Years of Discovery--From the Moon to Mars and Beyond.''

Xinnan Du, a postdoctoral student in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, is chief organizer of the campus event, which he described as a way for the university to recognize "one of the greatest attempts at space exploration in entire human history.''

"As a millennial, I've always been awed by the fact that humankind had already walked on the surface of another celestial object when technology was still barely part of everyday life,'' Du said. "This anniversary is an amazing opportunity to not only celebrate the achievement we made 50 years ago, but also learn about how far we've come in exploring space: from the moon, to Mars, to Pluto, and the outer edge of the solar system.''


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