first lunar landing

Where Were You That Day?

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By Lina Younes

There are historic events that become engrained in our collective memories. I’m talking about those events that, even decades later, you remember exactly what you were doing when you first heard the news. Some of these events like the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Challenger disaster, or September 11 obviously are linked to tragedies. However, there was particular event that captivated the world because of its magnitude and significance. Nearly half a century later, that one occurrence, that one step launched us into a new era of science, technology and exploration. What is the significant event that I’m referring to? The first lunar landing.

With the recent passing of former astronaut, Neil Armstrong, many of us shared our thoughts on the passing of this great American. For those of us who witnessed that moment in history, discussions via social media allowed us to share those recollections of how we experienced the first landing on the moon. Where were we? What were we doing at the time? Did we fully understand the significance of the moment? It was interesting to note that even Neil Armstrong who is described by many as a humble and reluctant hero did not classify that momentous occasion as a feat just for the United States, but as “a giant leap for mankind.”

As I’ve stated in previous blog entries, space exploration has opened a new world of science and technology that has benefitted us here on Earth, yet we take for granted. Did you know that NASA satellites opened a new world of communications that facilitated innovations in the mobile technologies of today? How about innovations in Earth sciences to analyze the quality of our air and other natural resources? Did you know that materials developed by NASA scientists have contributed to green technologies like solar panels? Did you know that technology developed as a result of the space program has also contributed to the development of better prothstetics and robotics used in medicine for the benefit of all mankind? These are just some of the positive outcomes of the space program that are only made possible by investing in science and technology. These successes are only possible if more students study science, technology, engineering and math. I’m sure there is another Neil Armstrong or Sally Ride within our midst who will open the door to new worlds. The stars are the limit!

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Witnessing History In The Making

By Lina Younes

Just recently, I had the opportunity to witness a historic event, the launch of the final space shuttle mission Atlantis, STS-135. My husband, my youngest daughter and I traveled to Florida to participate in several launch activities tied to the shuttle’s final voyage. We visited the Shuttle Landing Facility, Vehicle Assembly Building, the Orbiter Processing Facility, the Space Shuttle Atlantis on the Launch Pad, and spoke with an astronaut and many individuals who had been working at the Kennedy Space Center since the beginning of the shuttle program. In spite of some weather challenges, Atlantis was able to launch on July 8th as planned. It landed safely on July 21st nearly 42 years to the day when astronaut Neil Armstrong first walked on the Moon.

Prior to the launch, I was excitedly giving the history of the space program to my youngest in an effort for her to capture the significance of the event. As a person who actually remembers watching the first lunar landing on TV, I’ve always been in awe of space exploration. However, I quickly noticed that my daughter didn’t seem to share my excitement. She didn’t verbalize exactly it, but in spite of my explanations, she was looking at me like, “Ok…so?” That made me realize how much we take space exploration and related technologies for granted.

During the thirty years of the shuttle program, Atlantis and the other three NASA space orbiters conducted numerous experiments in space. They helped assemble and supply the International Space Station, serviced the Hubble Space Telescope, launched and serviced satellites, including many that help us gain a better understanding of our Planet Earth and our terrestrial environment. Many people do not realize that space exploration actually has an impact on our daily life and has led to green-related spinoffs technologies developed by NASA research.

As we move to a new era in space exploration, I sincerely hope that our youth will become excited about earth and space sciences so they will help protect our world, here and beyond.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves as Acting Associate Director for Environmental Education. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Tomorrow’s Women in Science

By Lina Younes

This past weekend I took my youngest daughter to the Girl Scout Day at the National Air and Space Museum. Girl Scout troops from Virginia and neighboring states went to the Steven F. Uvar-Hazy Center to participate in the day’s events in celebration of Women’s History Month.

There were a variety of hands-on science and art activities among the museum’s exhibits. Some focused on physics, aerodynamics, astronomy, and basic computer programming among others science disciplines. We saw a demonstration on the effects of the lack of pressure in space using a marshmallow. It was interesting. The girls seemed fascinated by the experiment. We even had the opportunity to fly a plane! Well, not exactly. We flew and attempted to land a plane using a flight simulator. We were not that successful in the landing, though. Wish the line had not been so long so that we could have tried multiple times to get it right. It was fun!

While at the museum, we also browsed the collection dedicated to space exploration. The Space Shuttle Enterprise is one of the major objects on display. I looked in awe at the exhibits and space artifacts showcasing our role in space exploration. I was slightly saddened by the fact that many of the young girls there really couldn’t appreciate all the technological advancements resulting from the Apollo and Shuttle programs. They will only read about it in history books or view old video footage. I still remember watching the first lunar landing.  Don’t think today’s youth can grasp the magnitude of those achievements by just reading about it. It’s just not the same.

While we were at the museum, I overheard two of the older girl scouts volunteers talking about their college choices. One had just received several college acceptance letters to pursue a career in aerospace engineering. Who knows, maybe among those young girls attending the Women’s History Month events there will be a future astronaut like Sally Ride.  How about a future environmentalist like Rachel Carlson?  Looking forward to the future. As always, would love to hear from you.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves as Acting Associate Director for Environmental Education. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.