Monday was climax of the Newspace Conference here at NASA Ames. Representatives of the Space industry; along with the 10,000 who attended the Moonfest; remember the significance of this date. The Apollo program was an enormous bounty for science. A whole generation of scientists were inspired by seeing people reach for the Moon. American schools began emphaising science and math to stay ahead of the world. The most productive years in particle physics, leading to discovery of the J-psi particle, coincided with the height of Apollo. The program may have left us the biggest gift of all.
The Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment left behind by Armstrong and Aldrin has been worth the price of the program. LLRE has allowed precision mesasurements of the Moon's distance, measurements of the gravitational constant, and one more check of Relativity, 400 years ago Galileo suggested measuring the speed of light using lanterns on distant hilltops. Following Galileo's idea, LLRE may have provided some important data.
LLRE reports the Moon receding at 3.82 +/- 0.07 cm/yr, anoimolously high. This implies that the age of the lunar orbit is only 1.55 Gyr. Apollo Moon rocks are over 4.5 Gyr old, proving to science that the Moon and planets are at least that old. Multiple clues from geology and paleontology (which will be described later) indicate that the Moon has receded at only about 2.8 cm/yr. How can LLRE be so far off? The answer may be as obvious as the Moon in the sky.
If the speed of light is slowing according to GM=tc^3, time for light signals to return would increase each year, making the Moon appear to recede faster as seen by LLRE. If the Moon's distance were fixed, LLRE would still report it receding at 0.935 cm/yr. change in c precisely accounts for the discrepancy. Apollo may have proven that the speed of light slows as we speak.