Documenting the Sample

John Young gets in position to photograph a sample

Painting Completed 1985
20 x 30 inches, Acrylic on Masonite

When we found an interesting rock on the Moon, we couldn't just grab it up and put it in a Teflon bag. If we had, when the rocks got back to Earth, the scientists would have had two boxes full of rocks with no idea at all where they came from except somewhere near the landing site.

I have painted John Young doing what had to be done to bring back scientifcally useful samples. It was called, "Documenting the Sample." It was done wth both crewmen working as a team. Charlie Duke is standing about where you are right now. John has carefully placed the gnomon near the selected sample and stepped back minimizing any surface disturbance. Charlie will take one photograph of the sample area and then take a step to his right and take another. This will give a pair of stereo photographs. John or Charlie will pick up the sample and examine it carefully and quickly report any special observations to Earth before placing it in a numbered sample bag; another photo and on to the next site. A simple procedure but the results are enormous.

For example, the gnomen's shadow will tell the scientist on Earth the direction the rock was resting relative to the Moon's north pole and if it was tipped up or down. This could be important for studies of lunar magnetic fields past and present.

Documenting the Sample takes time and training; but, without doing it right, lunar samples become just a bunch of rocks from a faraway place.

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