On this cloudless, sunny Paris afternoon of October 22, 1797, André-Jacques Garnerin, released from a hot-air balloon 2,230-feet above the Parc Monceau, became the first person in history to use a parachute to descend safely to the ground.
As Garrett Soden details in his book Defying Gravity, when Garnerin initially announced the feat he planned to perform, those in attendance were skeptical. After all, he had made the same promise five months earlier, and even had sold tickets to the performance, which had been aborted when he was unable to get his balloon to rise. (At the time, hot-air balloons, which had been invented just 14 years earlier by the Montgolfier brothers, were still finicky bleeding-edge technology.) The parachute also had been invented a few years before by a professor, Louis-Sebastien Lenormand, who’d tested the device by using it to drop a basketful of animals from a tower. That idea was appropriated by a showman named Jean-Pierre Blanchard, who toured France, dropping livestock with parachutes from a hot-air balloon. (PETA would have been horrified.)
And now, for the news.
NASA says Moon crater contains usable water. It’s actually wetter than the Sahara, amazingly.