Hard Driving

Deploying the thin-foil solar wind collector

Painting Completed 1988
36 x 26 inches, Acrylic on Masonite

Apollo 11 Astronaut Buzz Aldrin is driving a core tube into the Moon's surface. He is finding it more difficult then he anticipated, much harder than driving into the dirt or sand he used in training here on Earth.

The whole idea of a core tube is to quickly obtain a continuous sample of surface and subsurface soil. The core tube itself is a hollow metal pipe a foot long with a sharp-edged bit on the leading edge. It is then attached to a tool extension handle so that it can be driven into the surface from a standing position.

Well, the core tube is not going into the Moon as expected. Buzz would comment, "I pushed it in 3 or 4 inches and then started tapping it with the hammer. I found it wasn't doing much at all in the way of penetrating further. I started beating it harder and harder and I managed to get it into the ground maybe 2 inches. I was hammering it in about as hard as I felt I could safely do it. Well, it just wouldn't go in any farther."

Buzz continued, "I didn't find any resistance at all in retracting the core tube. It came up quite easily. I didn't find any tendency at all for the material to come out."

Later, on Earth, scientists would say that the soil was fine-grained, granular, slightly cohesive, and incompressible. The samples show no fossil life, no living organisms, and no organic materials. More importantly, they would conclude that moon dust holds no threat to life on Earth.