Boy, You Sure Can Move on this Surface

Painting Completed August 2011
14 x 18 inches, Textured Acrylic With Moondust On Aircraft Plywood


Prior to our Apollo 12 mission in November 1969, Pete Conrad and I talked with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin about moving on the lunar surface. We knew that moving rapidly between exploration sites on the dusty surface would take significant energy, but we wanted to maximize the scientific return from our two moonwalks. The engineers were worried the water supply in our PLSS backpacks might run out as we worked in the 250-degree heat, making us too hot to move to the LM and get safely inside, so they limited our moonwalks to three and one half hours each.

With the challenge of so much science to accomplish in such little time, speed of movement on the surface was critical. Just like training, I learned my bulky pressurized spacesuit did not bend easily at the leg joints. However, the one-sixth earth's gravity of the Moon made me lighter and feel stronger than any training day on Earth. I found I could run on my tiptoes using mostly my smaller ankle joint. With a sort of loping motion, minimizing bending my hip and knee joints, I learned to skim across the lunar surface. I shared my enthusiasm with Pete and Mission Control, "Boy, you can sure move on this surface."

In my painting, I am carefully photographing the plus-Y footpad of the LM to document that, like us, the LM also moves easily on the surface. The footpad bounced upon landing and moved slightly forward. Engineers back on planet Earth used this information to insure the LM landing system for future missions was as light as possible but would still perform safely.

As I began photographing, Pete quickly moved to the rear of the LM to take a series of a dozen photographs, turning 30 degrees between each, recording a panorama of the immediate landing area. I have painted the bootprints he made as he moved behind the LM. Scientists think these bootprints will remain on the lunar surface just as distinctly as I have painted them for 30 million years.

Moving fast on the Moon was hard work, but it was fun too. Someday adventurous humans from planet Earth will return to the Moon to run and jump and do things in the light gravity they could never do back home. Perhaps they will visit our landing site and see our bootprints and leave some bootprints of their own.

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