Some Tools of Our Trade

JY, Scoop, Tongs

Painting Completed 2004
13 x 12 inches, Textured Acrylic with Moondust on Aircraft Plywood

I have painted astronaut John Young at work collecting valuable samples of the moon. To do this he had to have tools to dig, to drive, to hammer, to rake, to drill, and bags to collect and identify each sample. When John and his fellow worker Charlie Duke bring these samples back to their lunar module they must have containers to preserve the rocks and dirt until they are delivered to the Lunar Receiving Lab back in Houston.

Creating the suite of tools and containers was not as simple as it seemed when we first considered the problem. After all we had all used similar tools throughout our lives gardening, building, and repairing around the house. But on Earth however, we were not worried about compromising future scientific analysis with contamination from our equipment. In addition, of more personal concern to us was that our space suit gloves were bulky, and the thumb and fingers were stiff and tiring to manipulate. Our sense of touch was greatly diminished.

To insure pristine samples were returned, most tools, including the 32-inch tongs and the large scoop John has been using, are made of series 300 stainless steel and aluminum alloy 6061. To make these tools as easy as possible to operate they were designed with large gripping surfaces and long handles so we did not need to bend over in our pressurized suits.

All in all our tools allowed us to do the tasks we had to do. Some worked well as originally designed whereas others required modifications based on experience gained during early missions. Charlie Duke may have summed it up best when he reported to Earth during his second EVA, "John, I've found a use for every tool we've got."