Monday, February 23, 2015

Apollo 11 TV Camera Developer Dies at 91

Replica of the black-and-white television camera which showed
the first astronauts walking on the Moon (the original camera
remains on the Moon). This replica is in the collection of the
National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular
Science also publicly displayed a non-working replica of this
Westinghouse television camera for many years.

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

Physicist Ernest Sternglass, who was instrumental in development of the television camera which showed the first astronauts walking on the Moon, has died at age 91 of heart failure. The Cornell University graduate, who worked for many years at the Westinghouse Research Laboratory, and later at the University of Pittsburgh, passed-away on February 12 in Ithaca, New York. His death was announced by Cornell University, where Dr. Sternglass' professional papers are archived.

For the first Moon landing by astronauts, NASA planned to provide the national and world television networks a live television feed showing the astronauts walking around and working on the Moon. However, NASA was concerned with the television picture quality, considering that there would be no artificial lighting available to help illuminate the lunar environment.

Dr. Sternglass' research led to the development of a very sensitive television camera tube, which could capture low-light action on the Moon. The genesis of this research came in 1950, while Mr. Sternglass was a graduate student, with correspondence he had with famous physicist Albert Einstein. This led to an electron amplification discovery that later permitted the development of a very sensitive television camera, first for spy satellites, and later for NASA's Moon mission. This black-and-white television camera was developed for NASA while he was employed at the Westinghouse Research Laboratory in east suburban Pittsburgh.

With one of the largest television audiences in history (estimated to be at least 600 million, worldwide), this television camera showed the first person to step on the Moon, Neil Armstrong, first setting-foot on the Moon on Sunday Evening, 1969 July 20 at precisely 10:56:20 p.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDT) / July 21 (“Moonday”) at 2:56:20 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).

Ernest Sternglass was born on 1923 September 24 in Germany, but his family fled Nazi Germany in 1938 and came to America. After completing high school at the age of 16, he entered an engineering program at Cornell University. He volunteered to serve in the U.S. Navy during World War II, but just before leaving for the Pacific Theater the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the war.

His first civilian job, in 1947 at the Naval Ordinance Laboratory in Washington, led to a meeting with Albert Einstein at Dr. Einstein's home in Princeton, New Jersey. Dr. Sternglass went on to earn his Master's Degree and Ph.D. in applied and engineering physics at Cornell University.

He was among several scientists concerned with the health effects of the atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons. On the last day of the 1963 U.S. Senate Atmospheric Test Ban Treaty hearings, he testified that radiation from bomb tests were equivalent to human exposure to several X-rays. A few years earlier, he had observed that medical X-ray exposure to a developing fetus correlated with a significant increase in incidence of childhood leukemia and infant mortality.

In later years, Dr. Sternglass worked at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine where he conducted pioneering work in digital X-ray imaging.

A non-working replica of the historic Apollo 11 television camera was publicly displayed for many years at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science. During the 1970s and early 1980s, this replica was shown in a classic display-case exhibit in the Great Hall on Buhl Planetarium's first-floor. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, this Westinghouse camera replica was displayed behind the large glass windows in Buhl Planetarium's third-floor Astronomical Observatory.

Obituary of Ernest Sternglass from the Cornell Chronicle:
Link >>>

More on Ernest Sternglass: Link >>>

Related Blog Posts ---

45 Years Ago: Man Lands on the Moon !  (2014 July 20):

Link >>>

JFK: Loss of the Man Who Sent Us to the Moon  (2013 Nov. 22):

Link >>>

Moon Day - A National Holiday ?  (2014 July 20):

Link >>>

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.

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