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Opinion

How humans learned about Earth by going to the moon

Earthrise
Earth as seen from the moon.
(Trevor Paglen / Creative Time)

To the editor: Thank you for your coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing’s 50th anniversary.

The space program’s ironic legacy is that we sent people to the moon and probes to the planets, and along the way, we looked back home and discovered Earth.

Images like Apollo 8’s “Earthrise” photo in 1968 and Apollo 17’s “Blue Marble” in 1972 changed our perspective on our own precious world. Reflecting on Voyager 1’s 1990 “Pale Blue Dot” image of Earth as a tiny speck, astronomer Carl Sagan noted that “every human being who ever lived ... every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer” lived out their lives on a mere “mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”

That realization, too, was a giant leap for humankind.

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Stephen A. Silver, San Francisco

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To the editor: One article describes plans to send a female astronaut to the moon.

The Apollo program cost $25 billion in 1969 dollars, the equivalent of $175 billion today. Any new program to send humans to the moon will cost at least that much and will provide no tangible benefit to society.

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We’ve already demonstrated that we can send humans to the moon and bring them back. Why spend enormous sums of money to do it again?

Investing the same amount of money in infrastructure and renewable energy would provide a large return. We should do a cost-benefit analysis of a $175-billion program supporting infrastructure and renewable energy, and compare it to a similar analysis of a program to send humans back to the moon.

Al Barrett, Santa Monica

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To the editor: Let me get this straight.

We are raising the debt ceiling because we can’t balance the budget. We have a growing homelessness problem in major cities and no way to correct it. Our public schools are underfunded and our infrastructure is crumbling.

How about we send Congress to the moon and get a new legislature to handle the problems at hand?

Ed Masciana, Torrance


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