Fifty years after the Apollo 11 crew of Michael Collins, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin successfully landed the lunar module on the moon with the help from over 400,000 people around the world, experiments left on the surface by the crew are still helping collect valuable data for researchers back on earth.
In addition to numerous photographs taken and equipment installed, a two-foot wide panel called the ‘Lunar Ranging Retro Reflector’ (LRRR) was placed on the surface about 100 feet from the lunar lander, and precisely angled back towards earth by Neil Armstrong.
The reflector consists of what are known as ‘corner-cube’ reflectors that always reflect light back towards the original source (instead of scattering the light in other directions like a mirror or other surface). This makes it possible for earth-based observatories, like the McDonald Observatory in Texas, to shoot high-powered lasers towards the Apollo 11 site and directly receive the returned signal for measuring precise distances between the two sensors.
The distance measurements have been collected and used for decades for, among many things, precisely determining the moon’s distance from earth to within a few centimeters, testing Einstein’s theory of gravity, theory of relativity, and confirming Newton’s gravitational constant.
Business applications don’t frequently rely on gravitational measurements, but many scenarios benefit from accurate environmental, weather, remote-sensing and GIS data, especially when managing data in the field. NASA’s Data Portal is one of many growing, public data catalogs that are easily accessible for augmenting business data.
The app embedded above relies on a single, simple table of images hosted by NASA, with locations plotted on a custom map layer (a map of the ‘Tranquility Base’).
To learn more about making your own custom maps, image galleries, and turning data into applications without writing any code, start building with AppSheet today.