On the flight plan, the moonwalk was scheduled to be made when the 210-foot – diameter dishes at Goldstone and the Parkes Observatory in New South Wales, Australia, would both have a clear line of sight in order to provide 100 per cent redundancy in these large antennas. However, advancing the schedule meant that the Parkes antenna, which could not dip all the way down to the horizon, could not receive until the Moon was well up; and in any case, wind gusts threatened to cut operations short. And since a problem at Goldstone was degrading the slow-scan television signal, the smaller 85-foot antenna at the Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station 25 miles from Canberra, Australia, became the prime receiver for coverage of the egress. Built in 1967, Honeysuckle Creek had tracked previous missions but as Bernie Scrivener, the administrative officer, noted, “Somehow this seemed to be much more important; this was the day for which everyone on the station had worked and trained.’’ Australia’s Prime Minister, John Gorton, joined a large group of technicians to witness the event. At 11.15 am local time, the Moon rose and the signal was strong. The Westinghouse black-and-white camera provided 320 lines of resolution at a scan rate of 10 frames per second. As television technician Ed von Renouard reflected, “When I was sitting there in front of the scan converter waiting for a pattern on the input monitor, I was hardly aware of the rest of the world. I heard Buzz Aldrin say ‘Television circuit breaker in’.’’ The signal came in. “When the image first appeared, it was an indecipherable puzzle of stark blocks of black at the bottom and grey at the top, and was bisected by a bright diagonal streak. I realised that the sky should be at the top – and on the Moon the sky is black.’’ Several weeks earlier, NASA had noticed that when the MESA was opened the camera affixed to it would be oriented upside down, and a switch had been installed at each ground station to flip the picture, and when von Renouard threw the switch ‘‘all of a sudden it made sense’’.
As one of the 10-foot-by-10-foot Eidophor screens in Mission Control flickered to life, it prompted cheers in the viewing gallery. ‘‘We’re getting a picture on the TV,’’ McCandless announced.
‘‘You got a good picture, huh?’’ Aldrin asked.
‘‘There’s a great deal of contrast in it,’’ McCandless replied, ‘‘and currently it’s upside down on our monitor, but we can make out a fair amount of detail.’’ In fact, the initial feed to Houston was by a land line from Goldstone, where the technician waited 30 seconds before flipping the image upright. Unfortunately, the problem with the conversion system made the image extremely contrasty.
“Will you verify the aperture I ought to have on the camera?” Aldrin asked. He was referring to the Maurer.
“Stand by,” McCandless replied.
Since the MESA rotation had stopped short of 90 degrees, the television view depicted the horizon tilted slightly down to the right. Watched by a mesmerised audience, Armstrong carefully descended the nine-rung ladder.
“Neil, we can see you coming down the ladder now,” reported McCandless.
The specifications for the extravehicular suit had required it to protect against temperatures in the range -250°F to +310°F, the former representing deep shadow and the latter full sunlight plus heat radiated by the surface. Although the ladder was in shadow, Armstrong was able to hold onto it without ill effects. Indeed, as he would later recall, “At no time could I detect any temperature penetrating the insulated gloves as I touched things.” hacking an atmosphere, the lunar surface is exposed to micrometeoroid bombardment. The tough outer covering was judged sufficient to protect against microscopic motes impacting at cosmic speeds.
On touchdown, the narrow lower section of the strut was to act as a piston and slide into the wider main strut and, by virtue of crushing a honeycombed filler, absorb the shock of the vehicle falling the final few feet, but Eagle had landed so gently that there was no significant compression and the interval from the lowest rung on the ladder to the foot pad was at almost its maximum 3.5 feet – a fact that Armstrong discovered when he jumped backwards off the final rung and, sliding his hands down the rails to maintain his stability, landed with both feet within the 3- foot-diameter pad. He jumped back up onto the ladder to verify that ascent was feasible, then down again. Meanwhile, Aldrin opened the f-stop of the Maurer on his own initiative. Although this washed out the ground beyond the shadow, it much improved the view of Armstrong. Twenty seconds later, McCandless issued the recommended settings, “Buzz, f/2 and 1/160th second for shadow photography on the sequence camera.”
At this point the Network controller in the Mission Operations Control Room noticed that the video from Honeysuckle Creek, which was being transmitted by microwave to Sydney and then relayed by an Intelsat geostationary satellite over the Pacific Ocean, was clearer, and so he switched to this. Although NASA fed the Honeysuckle picture to the commercial television networks, it used Goldstone’s audio.
The first step
For Armstrong, being a test pilot, the significant achievement of the mission had been the act of landing on the Moon. But for the public, that was only the prelude to a man making an imprint of his boot on the lunar surface.
“I’m at the foot of the ladder,” Armstrong announced. Standing on the foot pad, holding the ladder with his right hand and bent forward slightly in order to balance his PLSS, he inspected the surface to the left of the pad, as he had done in training. Although he was deep in Eagle’s shadow, sunlight backscattered from the zero-phase angle illuminated the shadowed side of the vehicle, enabling him to see reasonably well. “The LM foot pads are only depressed in the surface about 1 or 2 inches, although the surface appears to be very, very fine grained; as you get close to it, it’s almost like a powder.’’ At home, his wife urged him to “be descriptive”. Joan Aldrin clapped her hands in delight, “I can’t believe this’’. In the Collins home, someone remarked in amazement, “This is science fiction!’’ Although the picture from the slow-scan camera was ‘ghostly’, it was remarkable (and, oddly, not envisaged by science fiction) that people on Earth were able to watch their representative take his first step onto the lunar surface ‘live’ on television. The Mission Operations Control Room was totally silent. In the News Center, journalists were watching on a theatresized Eidophor screen. Ironically, the town of Carnarvon, which hosted one of the tracking stations of the Manned Space Flight Network, had no television facilities. However, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation had arranged for the Overseas Telecommunications Commission to relay the moonwalk via satellite. In the local theatre the townspeople had installed a 14.5-inch set which people at the rear of the hall watched through binoculars!
Having described the strut and the adjacent surface, Armstrong announced, ‘‘I’m going to step off the LM now.’’ On the translunar coast, Aldrin had asked him if he had decided what he would say on stepping onto the surface, and he had said he was still thinking it over. Having rejected quotations from Shakespeare and the Bible, and things that he deemed to be pretentious, it dawned on him as he stood at the foot of the ladder that there was, in fact, only one thing to say! Holding onto the ladder with his right hand, he placed his left boot firmly on the surface alongside the pad. ‘‘That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for Mankind.’’ d The historic first words having been issued, the Mission Operations Control Room broke into hearty applause. Dave Scott, who flew on Gemini 8 with Armstrong, would later reflect that it was typical of the man to have deliberated for so long over what to say, and then expressed so much in so few words.
Armstrong released his grip on the handrail of the ladder and stepped fully off the foot pad. Walter Cronkite proudly told his CBS audience that a 38-year-old
American was now standing on the surface of the Moon. When Armstrong scraped his foot across the surface, he noticed that the dark powdery material coated his overshoe. “The surface is fine and powdery. I can kick it up loosely with my toe. It adheres in fine layers like powdered charcoal to the sole and sides of my boots.” Although his boots only slightly impressed the surface, the material preserved the imprint of his boots very well. “I only go in a small fraction of an inch – maybe one – eighth of an inch – but I can see the prints of my boots and the treads in the fine, sandy particles.”
Wearing the 180-pound extravehicular mobility unit, Armstrong’s mass was 340 pounds, but in the weak lunar gravity he weighed only one-sixth of this and was light on his feet. He did not feel the weight of the suit, since its internal pressure made it self-supporting. Holding the ladder with both hands, he did several knee-bends and then took a few steps away from the foot pad, briefly leaving the view of the television camera. Some members of the medical community had expressed concern that the astronauts would have difficulty in rapidly adapting to lunar gravity, and had urged that time be reserved for acclimatisation, with an immediate recall if this were to prove difficult. However, this ignored the fact that they would have been exposed to lunar gravity inside the LM for several hours prior to egressing, during which time they would be acclimatising – if, indeed, a period of acclimatisation should prove necessary. Others had expressed concern that if an astronaut were to fall onto his back he might have difficulty regaining an upright stance. If Armstrong had slipped early on, this may have prompted his immediate recall. He was determined to allay such concern. “There seems to be no difficulty in moving around as we suspected,’’ he continued. “It’s even perhaps easier than the simulations at one-sixth gravity. It is actually no trouble to walk around.’’
Having moved back in order to see beneath the vehicle, Armstrong said, “The descent engine didn’t leave a crater of any size. It has about 1 foot clearance off the ground. We’re essentially on a very level place here. I can see some evidence of rays emanating from the descent engine, but a very insignificant amount.’’ At this point, he unhooked the LEC from his suit, but kept hold of it. “Buzz, are we ready to bring down the camera?’’
“I’m ready,’’ replied Aldrin. “You’ll have to pay out all the LEC. It looks like it’s coming out nice and evenly.’’
After training had suggested that it would be difficult to carry the loaded rock boxes up the ladder at the end of the moonwalk, the LEC, dubbed the ‘Brooklyn clothes line’, had been devised. It had then been decided to use this to transfer out the Hasselblad camera. Armstrong was to use the LEC in hand-over-hand fashion to lower the equipment transfer bag. Now that he had stepped away from the LM, the illuminated terrain ruined his dark adaptation. ‘‘It’s quite dark here in the shadow, and a little hard for me to verify that I have good footing,’’ he pointed out. ‘‘I’ll work my way over towards the sunlight here, without looking directly into the Sun.’’ He did not want to enter full sunlight because he did not yet desire to lower his gold-coated visor. As he moved off to the southern edge of the shadow, Aldrin elevated the Maurer, and the western horizon appeared in the field of view. At this point, the movie camera exhausted the 8 minutes of film that had remained in the magazine with which Aldrin had set it running. At this point, too, having briefly switched the television feed back to Goldstone, then to Honeysuckle Creek and once again to Goldstone, Houston was informed that the 210-foot antenna at Parkes had finally acquired the signal and, since this had the best image quality to date, it was fed to commercial television networks for the remainder of the moonwalk.
The bodywork of the Hasselblad 500EL Data Camera was highly reflective for thermal control on the lunar surface, and it had an f/5.6 lens with a focal length of 60 millimetres. The shutter speed, aperture and focus were all manual; only the electric film-advance was automatic. The adjustments had been enlarged to enable them to be operated by gloved hands. The astronauts had memorised the exposure settings for different Sun angles. In order to facilitate precise measurements across a frame for ‘data extraction’, a glass plate bearing a grid of 25 crosses had been positioned immediately in front of the focal plane. It was originally intended that the camera would be operated hand-held, but during training Armstrong had suggested that a bracket be added to the chest pack in order to make the camera hands-free. Because the helmet would prevent use of the top-mounted view finder, the rotating mirror and viewing plate had been deleted, and the astronauts had learned to aim by trial and error. They had two cameras, but only one had the modifications for external use.
After removing the Hasselblad from the equipment transfer bag, Armstrong mounted it on his bracket. He draped the LEC beside the forward leg. Noticing that the Maurer had stopped, Aldrin attended to it. In addition to exchanging the film magazine, he moved the camera to a bracket on a bar running horizontally across his window, set the exposure for the illuminated terrain, and pointed it northwest in order to document the locus of most of the external activities. As Armstrong set out to snap pictures for a partial panorama of the site, McCandless prompted him to take the contingency sample. This had priority on the checklist for the early part of the excursion because, if a suit or PLSS problem were to oblige him to retreat before he could fill the rock boxes, or if it should prove impossible to transfer the boxes to the cabin, they might have to return to Earth with only this small sample. Armstrong said that he would collect the sample when he had taken his pictures. He shot nine frames, turning slightly each time to document the horizon running from due south, through west and around to due north. This done, he moved north about 12 feet, stepping out of Eagle’s shadow into sunlight to enable him to see the ground as he took the sample, knowing that this position would be within the field of view of the Maurer. As he still had not lowered his gold-plated visor, he stood with his back to the Sun, drew a scoop from the pocket strapped onto his left thigh, and straightened the multi-segmented handle just as Aldrin restarted the Maurer. As Armstrong scraped the scoop across the surface, he discovered that although the surficial material was loose, it consolidated with depth and prevented the scoop from penetrating more than a few inches. Nevertheless, by dragging the tool across the ground several times he was able to fill the bag.
‘‘It looks beautiful from here, Neil,’’ Aldrin called, referring to the sampling.
Armstrong, presuming Aldrin’s remark to be a comment on the moonscape, replied, “It has a stark beauty all its own. It’s like much of the high desert of the United States. It’s different, but it’s very pretty out here.’’ Then to Houston he said, “Be advised that a lot of rocks have what appear to be vesicles in their surfaces. Also, I’m looking at one now that appears to have some sort of phenocrysts in it.’’ After detaching the transparent sample bag from the scoop he inserted the handle several inches into the ground. On inspecting the contents of the bag, he noted that although the surface generally appeared shades of tan, the sample was black. After sealing the bag, he kneaded it with his fingers, observing that although most of the material was very finely grained there were also fragments of rock. His next task was to put the bag into his thigh pocket, but the peripheral vision through the visor was so limited that he could not see the flap. “Is the pocket open, Buzz?’’
“Yes, it is. It’s not up against your suit though. Hit it back once more. More towards the inside. Okay. That’s good.’’
“Is that in the pocket?’’
“Yes. Push it down. It’s not all the way in. Push it. There you go.’’
“The contingency sample is in the pocket,’’ Armstrong informed Houston, to the relief of the scientists. In fact, they would have preferred the sample taken well away from Eagle because the exhaust plume had disturbed the fine material in the immediate vicinity and potentially contaminated that which remained. In addition, the oxidiser pressure had been relieved soon after landing by venting, and some of the nitrogen tetroxide might have coated the surface. But Armstrong had been told to remain close to the vehicle.
Second man out
After Armstrong had been on the lunar surface for about 15 minutes, Aldrin asked, “Are you ready for me to come out?’’
“Just stand by a second. I’ll move this over the handrail,’’ replied Armstrong. He adjusted the position of the LEC on the strut to ensure that it would not hinder Aldrin’s egress, and then he stood to the southwest in order to document Aldrin’s egress. When Fred Haise alerted Joan to her husband’s imminent appearance, she, as a former actress, observed, “It’s like making an entrance on stage.’’
Before Aldrin left, he gave the Maurer camera a final inspection. On 27 February 1969 Maxime A. Faget, Director of Engineering and Development at the Manned Spacecraft Center, wrote to Owen E. Maynard, chief of the mission operations branch. Knowing that the television coverage of the moonwalk would not be of very high quality, Faget had had high hopes for the film record. But discovering what was intended, he was dismayed. “From the stand point of public information and historical documentation,” he wrote, “I am terribly disappointed to find that although 560 feet of movie film has been set aside for lunar surface use, none will be exposed with the intent of providing a first-class visual appreciation of the astronauts’ activity on the Moon during this singularly historical event. The impression of this occasion will be marred and distorted by the fact that the greatest frame rate [in automatic mode] is 12 frames per second. One can argue that ‘suitable’ (although jerky) motion rendition is produced by double-framing. Nevertheless, it is almost unbelievable that the culmination of a $20 billion program is to be recorded in such a stingy manner.’’ The situation was actually worse than Faget had been led to believe, since with the camera running at its slowest rate of 1 frame per second a 140-foot reel of thin base film was sufficient for only 93 minutes, and because there would be no one available to replace the magazine it would not be possible to document the entire moonwalk.
‘‘All set,’’ called Armstrong. ‘‘You saw what difficulties I was having. I will try to watch your PLSS from here.’’ As Aldrin’s feet appeared in the hatch, Armstrong gave cues to assist him to reverse out along the porch.
Aldrin, ‘‘making sure not to lock it on my way out’’, partially closed the hatch in order to protect the cabin from the harsh thermal environment.
‘‘A pretty good thought,’’ chuckled Armstrong.
‘‘That’s our home for the next couple of hours, and we want to take good care of it,’’ Aldrin added. ‘‘Okay. I’m on the top step.’’ As he started down the ladder he provided commentary because one of his assignments was to evaluate the ability of a man to operate in the lunar environment, ‘‘It’s a very simple matter to hop down from one step to the next.’’ As her husband appeared on the television, Joan screamed with delight, rolled on her back and kicked her legs in the air, then sat up again and blew kisses.
‘‘You’ve got three more steps and then a long one,’’ Armstrong advised.
Aldrin continued his commentary as he prepared to jump down on to the foot pad, ‘‘I’m going to leave that one foot up there, and both hands down to about the fourth rung up.’’
‘‘There you go,’’ said Armstrong as Aldrin jumped.
Following Armstrong’s lead, Aldrin tested jumping back up, but in this case his boot fell short of the lowest rung and dropped down again.
‘‘About another inch,’’ Armstrong noted.
Aldrin jumped up again, this time successfully. It was a matter of recalibrating his muscles for one-sixth gravity. ‘‘That’s a good step,’’ he noted wryly.
‘‘About a 3-footer,’’ said Armstrong.
‘‘Beautiful view!’’ said Aldrin, as he looked left and right while standing on the foot pad.
‘‘Isn’t that something!’’ Armstrong agreed. ‘‘It’s a magnificent sight out here.’’
Impressed by the contrast between the stark shadows and the barrenness of the illuminated surface, Aldrin said, ‘‘Magnificent desolation.’’ Retaining hold of the ladder with both hands, he stepped backwards off the pad, then let go with his left hand and turned to face north. He was struck by the Moon’s small size. To a man
Buzz Aldrin descends the ladder.
standing on the surface, the horizon was less than 2 miles away, making it very evident that he was on a sphere with the surface falling away in all directions. This had not been so evident when looking out of the window since, being higher, with the horizon further away, he had been able to see to a ‘reasonable’ distance. Standing freely, he noted that it was necessary to lean forward about 10 degrees to balance the mass of his backpack. However, this stance assisted in looking down, and he remarked that although the surface was finely grained and there were some rocks, there were some other objects that looked like clods of dirt. The loose material was different from terrestrial soil which, in addition to fragments of rock, contains the products of chemical weathering and organic humus – the lunar material is best described as a ‘regolith’, this being the term for material composed solely of rock fragments with a seriate distribution of sizes. Since a breccia is a consolidation of rock fragments bound in a matrix of finer material, geologists would subsequently introduce the term ‘regolith breccias’ for the compacted clods of regolith which, although they looked like rocks, readily fell apart when disturbed.
‘‘This pad sure didn’t penetrate far,’’ Aldrin observed.
‘‘No. It didn’t,’’ Armstrong agreed.
As had Armstrong, Aldrin stepped back and peered beneath Eagle, ‘‘There’s absolutely no crater there at all from the engine.’’ Although the plume had blown the dust out radially, it had not excavated the surface. However, there was a mark directly beneath the engine where the probe of the left landing gear had struck the surface.
Armstrong had also observed that whereas the probe on the left leg was bent beneath the vehicle, that on the right leg was bent outward. ‘‘I think that’s a good representation of our sideward velocity at touchdown.’’
As per his checklist, Aldrin continued to familiarise himself, but since he had not set the voice-actuated keying control for his downlink at its maximum setting he was cutting out; at times, much of what he said was rendered unintelligible.
Meanwhile, Armstrong had tilted the MESA down past horizontal and pulled a lanyard to remove the thermal insulation blanket to expose the stowed apparatus. ‘‘Houston, I have the insulation off the MESA now, and the MESA seems to be in good shape.’’ Turning his attention to the television camera, he announced, ‘‘I’m going to change lenses on you.’’ As installed, the camera had a lens that provided an 80-degree field of view. He retrieved one with a 35-degree field of view from a slot of the MESA and put it on the camera, stowing the original lens. ‘‘Tell me if you’re getting a new picture.’’
‘‘That’s affirmative,” replied McCandless. ‘‘We’re getting a new picture. You can tell it’s a longer-focal-length lens. And for your information, all LM systems are Go.’’
‘‘We appreciate that,’’ Aldrin replied. ‘‘Thank you.’’
The commemorative plaque
Although each man had his individual checklist sewn onto the gauntlet of his left glove, several items were not listed. The unveiling of the commemorative plaque on the forward strut was such a late addition to the training that only Armstrong was
The design of the commemorative plaque on Eagle’s forward leg, and a television view of its unveiling by Neil Armstrong (right of frame) and Buzz Aldrin.
familiar with it. With both men standing alongside the ladder, in view of the television camera, he described the plaque, “First, there’s two hemispheres, one showing each of the two hemispheres of the Earth. Underneath it says ‘Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon, July 1969 AD. We came in peace for all mankind’. It has the crew members’ signatures and the signature of the President of the United States.’’ Measuring 9 by 7.625 inches with a thickness of 0.006 inch, it was made of #304 stainless steel with a brushed finish. The map and signatures were black epoxy in etched inscriptions. It was curved, conformal with the 4-inch radius of the strut but not actually in contact with it, being instead attached to the ladder by four spring clips, two on the third rung and two on the fourth rung. Armstrong hinged out and unlatched the sheet of stainless steel that had protected the plaque, in order to leave it exposed.
According to NASA Administrator Thomas O. Paine, the decision to make the plaque was a last-minute affair in which he and Wallis H. Shapley, an Associate Deputy Administrator, sketched the design, called in an artist to draw it properly, and sent the result to the White House for approval. However, Paine’s account is contradicted by Jack A. Kinzler, an engineer at the Manned Spacecraft Center. This account stated that when Robert R. Gilruth phoned seeking ideas for how to celebrate the landing, Kinzler suggested a plaque to be left on the descent stage. Kinzler and colleague David L. McCraw produced a prototype that featured a US flag of red, white and blue paints baked into the etched figure in stainless steel, together with the signatures of the crew and the name of the landing site – on the assumption this would be named. Gilruth replaced the flag by two hemispheres with continental outlines devoid of national boundaries, to identify the planet of origin. Kinzler said that, ‘‘Once the plaque concept was approved, NASA headquarters took it over.’’ When it was sent to the White House, Nixon changed the wording to past tense, and asked that his signature be added. Julian Scheer, head of the Public Affairs Office, has added a twist to the story, saying that NASA refused a suggestion by Nixon that ‘under God’ be inserted after the word ‘peace’. The plaque’s design was made public shortly prior to launch. The astronauts had not been involved in the project, but felt it was tastefully done.
‘‘Are you ready for the camera?’’ Armstrong asked.
Although Aldrin was scheduled to use the Hasselblad soon, he decided not to take it yet, ‘‘No. I’ll get it later.’’ He was closely following the checklist, and the next item was to relocate the television camera, ‘‘You take the television on out.’’
Having pulled a strap on the MESA to release the tripod on which he was to mount the television camera, Armstrong prompted, ‘‘Would you pull out some of my cable for me, Buzz?’’
‘‘How is the temperature on there?’’ Aldrin asked, as he drew the cable from a dispenser on the MESA. A temperature-sensitive patch on the television camera was designed to darken with increasing temperature; it was still white, indicating that the camera had not overheated while being tested prior to the deployment of the MESA.
‘‘The temperature of the camera is showing ‘cold’,’’ Armstrong reported. He transferred the camera from the MESA to the tripod, and set off with it northwest, dragging the cable out as he went. On the way, something shiny on the bottom of a small crater attracted his attention. It was later concluded that this was a piece of glass, formed by the heat of a high-speed impact melting the regolith. In fact, there are two types of crater, ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’, with the primary produced by the impact of an object from space at cosmic velocity, and the secondary by the fall of ejecta issued by another impact. Since ejecta expelled faster than about 1.5 miles per second will escape the Moon, the speed of a secondary impact is necessarily at least an order of magnitude lower than that of a primary, and because kinetic energy is proportional to the square of the velocity, the energy of a primary strike for a specific mass greatly exceeds that of a secondary, and is sufficient to melt and fuse regolith.
Seeing Armstrong pause, Aldrin pointed out that there was more of the cable in the dispenser. ‘‘No, keep going. We’ve got a lot more, although it’s getting a little harder to pull out.’’
‘‘How far would you say I am, Buzz?’’
‘‘Oh, 40, 50 feet.’’ Then Aldrin suggested that Armstrong give the audience a panoramic view. ‘‘Why don’t you turn around and let them get a view from there, and see what the field of view looks like?’’
‘‘Okay,’’ Armstrong agreed.
‘‘You’re backing into the cable,’’ Aldrin warned, on seeing that Armstrong was at risk of entangling his feet in the cable. ‘‘Turn around to your right; that would be better.’’
‘‘I don’t want to go into the Sun if I can avoid it,’’ Armstrong pointed out. Now that he was in full sunlight, he was taking care not to point the camera towards the Sun because flooding it with harsh sunlight would undoubtedly damage it. He set the tripod down 55 feet northwest of Eagle. “I’ll just leave it sitting like that, and walk around it.’’ Once in position, he inspected the lines inscribed on the top of the camera body to indicate the angular field of view of the lens. “Houston. How’s that field of view?’’
“We’d like you to aim it a little bit more to the right,’’ McCandless instructed. Armstrong adjusted the camera. “A little bit too much to the right! Can you bring it back left about 5 degrees?’’
“Do you think I ought to be farther away, or closer?’’ Armstrong asked once it was lined up on Eagle, showing Aldrin, who, having advanced to the next item on his checklist, was configuring the MESA for sampling activities.
“You can’t get much further away,’’ Aldrin pointed out, having pulled out all the cable.
Armstrong now set about moving/aiming the camera to give the audience a series of views around the horizon. The image became a blur while the camera was in motion, and cleared when he set it down. “That’s the first picture in the panorama,’’ Armstrong announced. “It’s taken just about north-northeast. Tell me if you’ve got a picture, Houston.’’
“We’ve got a beautiful picture, Neil,’’ McCandless confirmed.
He moved the camera further around the horizon. “Okay. Here’s another good one.’’ The horizon was featureless, but there was a lot of detail in the foreground. “Now this one is right down-Sun, due west, and I want to know if you can see an angular rock in the foreground sticking up out of the soil.’’
“We see a large angular rock in the foreground,’’ McCandless confirmed, “and it looks like there is a much smaller rock a couple of inches to the left of it.’’
“And about 10 feet beyond that is an even larger rock that’s very rounded,’’ said Armstrong. “The closest rock is sticking out of the soil about 1 foot; it’s about 18 inches long and about 6 inches thick, but is standing on edge.’’ Armstrong was spending a lot of time on this panorama because he believed on this first landing the geologists would welcome a view of the site.
“We’ve got this view, Neil,’’ McCandless prompted.
Armstrong moved the camera again, “This is straight south.’’
“Roger,’’ McCandless replied. “And we see the shadow of the LM.’’
“The little hill just beyond the shadow of the LM is a pair of elongate craters.’’ There were two craters aligned in an east to west direction to the southwest of the vehicle. “Probably the pair together is about 40 feet long and 20 feet across, and they’re probably 6 feet deep. We’ll probably get some more work in there later.’’ Armstrong returned the camera to face Eagle, where Aldrin was still working at the MESA. He had attached to the edge of the MESA the teflon bag in which they were to place samples prior to stowing them in a rock box, and had raised a table on which a box was to be mounted for access; in their stowed positions the boxes were recessed into the MESA pallet. After some adjustments to the pointing, Armstrong left the television camera viewing Eagle and the area immediately to its front. There was an 8-foot-diameter deployable S-Band dish with its own tripod stowed in a compartment in the front-left quadrant of the descent stage, but since erecting this would take 20 minutes this was to be done only if Houston deemed the quality of the transmission using the smaller dish of Eagle’s high-gain antenna to be unsatisfactory, which was not the case.
Having unstowed the Solar Wind Collector (SWC) from the MESA, Aldrin moved out to deploy it a short distance due north of Eagle. The experiment was a sheet of exceptionally clean aluminium on a staff that was to be positioned facing the Sun to soak up solar wind particles, particularly ions of helium, neon and argon (all of which were unreactive ‘noble’ elements in the Periodic Table). After Aldrin had extended the aluminium staff, he pulled out and locked the roller at the top, then drew down the 140-centimetre-tall and 30-centimetre-wide sheet from the roller and hooked it to a catch at the lower end of the staff.8 He found it difficult to drive the staff into the ground because (as had been noted by Armstrong while collecting the contingency sample) the finely grained surface material became consolidated at a depth of 4 or 5 inches. The sheet was to be rolled up at the end of the moonwalk and returned to Earth. Because it was to be analysed by a laboratory in Switzerland, the experiment was also known as the ‘Swiss flag’. On his way back from the television camera, Armstrong took several Hasselblad pictures of Aldrin with the experiment.
Aldrin observed that although the imprints left by their boot were generally only a fraction of an inch deep, their boots penetrated several inches where the loose material was piled up on the rims of small craters, and he wondered whether there was a correlation between the loose consistency and the change of slope. He had also noticed that when the toe of his boot penetrated the loose material at a shallow angle, it tended to displace a ‘slab’ of material as if it were solid, which, of course, it was not. A similar effect had been observed while pushing the surface material using the robotic arm of a Surveyor lander. Armstrong added an observation of his own, ‘‘I noticed in the soft spots where we leave foot prints nearly 1 inch deep, the soil is very cohesive, and will retain a slope of probably 70 degrees along the side of the foot prints.’’ These were welcome ‘soil mechanics’ observations.