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8.3 What's the Buzz?

Thoughts on moons, and that all-important end-of-course test.

Just before you review all that you’ve learned in the end-of-course test, here’s a short video of someone special sharing his thoughts on the significance of the Moon and other moons. The interview was recorded for The Open University in 1999, but the extracts used here have never before been released.

When you’ve watched this, move on to the test.

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I'm Buzz Aldrin, a former Air Force fighter pilot, flew in combat, and have a doctor's degree from MIT in the subject of rendezvous. That helped qualify me to be selected as an astronaut in 1963. And I had my first flight with Jim Lovell on the last of the two-man series, Gemini 12. We did several space walks and a number of rendezvous.
Then that put me into good position. And we were on the back-up crew for Apollo 8, the first flight that went around the Moon. And then Neil Armstrong and I, then, along with Mike Collins, became the primary crew in Apollo 11, which landed on the Moon in July 20, 1969.
I think seeing the Earth from the surface of the Moon, of course, gave one a sense of just how far away you really are. And we've used a symbol of being able to reach up with your hand and use your thumb to cover up the Earth. So you eclipse every other living being in any near vicinity in the Solar System when you can do that.
And that's rather symbolic as to how far away you are, how small the Earth has become because you're so far away. It's a sense that is combined, of course, with the knowledge that you're in very close contact and you're very secure because of communications. If you were to lose communications, now, this would drastically alter the situation. Because now without any contact at all, you see how far away the Earth is, and psychologically, that's going to have a significant impact on any individual.
It does raise an interesting situation where if we want to really look with great precision out into the universe, one of the best locations to do this is that location that's shielded from all of the Earth communications, and that's on the backside - the far side - of the Moon, which would be an ideal location to install a radio telescope for SETI purposes, or for investigation in that particular realm of frequencies.
I think we have to explore all of the outer reaches of the Solar System as expeditiously as we can. We need the robotic spacecraft to prepare where they can the way to learn further about how we can eventually send human beings out that way. That's going to be a long time before we send human beings out in the direction of Saturn. But I think all of this adds to our understanding of the makeup of our Solar System - how planets form, what causes moons to be where they are, and what's the composition of the moons, and how they affect conditions there that might give rise, at some point, to life elsewhere in the universe. The more we understand what is within our Solar System, the better able we're going to be to understand other solar systems.
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