The augmented reality app that lets you experience the moon landing The new app allows users to walk on the moon with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. (Smithsonian Channel/NASA on The Commons)
The augmented reality app that lets you experience the moon landing
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Americans crowded around grainy televisions.  The year was 1969. They witnessed 
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin touch ground on the moon. That moment was 
amazing for all who watched it. 

The Smithsonian Channel launched the "Apollo's Moon Shot" augmented reality app. 
They are betting it can bring new audiences closer to the experience of the landing 
than the original footage ever could.

The AR app is available for Apple and Android devices. It places users on the surface 
of the moon. It lets them virtually escape their own surroundings. Users can 
moonwalk like Aldrin and Armstrong. They can witness the craters that dot the 
landscape. They can jump up and down in a state of altered gravity. They can gaze 
out at the darkening sky. The app also includes information about the landing. It is 
integrated into its design.

"It makes the landing more interactive. It allows people to bring the Apollo program 
into their own experience." says Teasel Muir-Harmony.  She is a curator at the 
National Air and Space Museum. 

The app's developers used 3-D scans of Neil Armstrong's space suit and of the Lunar 
Command Module. It placed the astronauts on the moon. They did this to replicate 
the feeling and the scale of the landing. Users can do more than walk on the moon. 
The app allows users to simulate the mission takeoff. It charts the Apollo's path 
through the moon's airspace. It includes two games. "The Moon Shot Challenge" and 
the "Lunar Landing Challenge." The games test users' ability to guide a safe landing 
through a lunar terrain dotted with boulders and craters.

The Smithsonian Channel launched the app along with its six-part "Apollo's Moon 
Shot" series. It premiered in June. The series features Muir-Harmony as an expert. 
She narrates the story of the Apollo 11 landing. She does this by using artifacts in 
the Smithsonian collection. The series also includes rare archival footage and 
audiotapes.

Muir Harmony consulted on the television series. She also consulted on the app. The 
goal was to highlight a side of the moon landing that much of the public hasn't 
encountered. 

"We often focus on the astronauts, but over 400,000 people worked on the 
program," she says.

Teams of NASA scientists worked under tight deadlines. They needed to map out 
ways to make day-to-day life transferrable into space. A group of engineers cobbled 
together personal items like zero-gravity sleeping bags for the astronauts. They 
developed exercise equipment that was later dubbed the Exergenie. It was a "rope 
friction device" that let astronauts work out even in a weightless environment.

"One of the things that people don't always realize is how many details were 
involved in a program like that. How many new technologies had to be developed. 
And how many people had to work together to make it all possible," said Muir-
Harmony.

The point of the app is to show these forgotten shades of the Apollo landing. They 
want to bring them to people who aren't easily able to visit the Air and Space 
Museum.

"The series and the app do a wonderful job of exposing people to the complexities of 
that program," said Muir-Harmony. 

"It's exciting for us to be able use augmented reality to give people more access to 
the artifacts in our national collections.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What do you think would be the most exciting thing about going to the moon? Why?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (19)
  • 26jpquin
    11/21/2019 - 10:27 a.m.

    It would be cool because it's almost a once in a life time thing to do. I hope people understand that going to a different planet (Moon) is really unique. Besides if you think about it, it's going to take you along time to get to the moon. I think you would need a great education (straight A's). You need a degree in college clearly. And you also will make a lot of money if you go to any planet or moon.

  • 26jdmoli
    11/21/2019 - 10:31 a.m.

    FLoating around,Because you can do all kinds of flips and stuff.And you can explore the moon see whats on it.

  • 26ehprin
    11/21/2019 - 10:34 a.m.

    I think the most exciting part about going to the moon would be experiencing the moon's surface and having little gravity. It would be fun to know if the moon is soft or hard, or squishy or concrete-like. it would be fun to jump around on the moon.

  • 26otgere
    11/21/2019 - 10:34 a.m.

    It was so exciting because I'm pretty sure that it was a race to space against russia and we beat russia to get to space and they were also the first Americans that went to the moon

  • 26nrcart
    11/21/2019 - 10:35 a.m.

    I think the most exciting thing about the moon would be to see if there are any other creatures we don't know about. I think it would be super cool to go to the moon but I would never go.

  • 26amtess
    11/21/2019 - 10:36 a.m.

    I think the most exciting thing about going to the moon would be when you actually got to the moon. I think it would be the most exciting part because when you got to the moon you would be able to see the earth and how much bigger it actually is then what you thought it was.

  • 26njsara
    11/21/2019 - 10:36 a.m.

    Walking on the moon and the zero gravity would he fun to jump really high.

  • 26klpetr
    11/21/2019 - 10:36 a.m.

    I think this was a very good article. I think that's cool how they have an app that can show you things about the moon. That's cool how 400,000 people worked on the program. I like how it shows the landing to.

  • 26cmcarl
    11/21/2019 - 10:40 a.m.

    The most exiting thing about going to the moon is you would get to experience something most people wouldn't get to experience. You would also be helping scientist develop new things. You would also go down in history as one of the people that went to the moon. You would also be standing on an object that's not on Earth which I think is pretty cool. Basically going to the moon would be pretty cool.

  • 26jrhaas
    11/21/2019 - 10:40 a.m.

    I think that the moon is a very beautiful place and being able to see it in a app would be really cool!

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