Langley Research Center can claim many historic firsts, some of which have proven to be revolutionary scientific breakthroughs. These accomplishments include the development of the concept of research aircraft leading to supersonic flight, the world’s first transonic wind tunnels, training the first crews of astronauts, the Lunar Landing Facility providing the simulation of lunar gravity, and the Viking program for Mars exploration. The center also developed standards for the grooving of aircraft runways based on a previous British design used at Washington National Airport. Grooved runways reduce aquaplaning which permits better grip by aircraft tires in heavy rain. This grooving is now the international standard for all runways around the world.
The largest, shining object in Earth's starlit night sky, our Moon has long been the source of mystery, myth, and poetry--a captivating inspiration for those who stare at the sky in wonder. But Earth's Moon is a very real object--the only body beyond our own planet that we have actually set foot upon, leaving our lingering footprints in its distant, alien dust. Earth's Moon has been with us almost from the very beginning, and even though it is our planet's closest companion in space, it has nonetheless managed to keep some of its ancient secrets very well. In September 2015, astronomers released a new study that shed light on Earth's bewitching companion's ancient and secretive past. Although our Moon now appears to be unchanging, as if it has always been exactly the same as it appears now--going through its beautiful and, yet, familiar phases, and controlling our ocean tides--in the distant past, things were actually very different. As time passed, the region would have cooled down considerably and contracted--thus pulling away from its surroundings and forming fractures akin to the cracks that form in mud as it becomes dry--but on a considerably larger scale. Saturn, the smaller of the two gas-giant planets inhabiting our Solar System, is an enchanting world. It is dwarfed only by Jupiter, the larger gas-giant planet, and it is probably the most beautiful planet in our Solar System. Magical and mysterious, Saturn's lovely rings and tumbling moonlets of ice, evoke wonder in the eye of the beholder.