Scouting for the Right Spot

Pete Conrad gestures with a tool and Al Bean comes along behind with the ALSEP packages

Painting Completed 1994
9 x 18 inches, Acrylic on Aircraft Plywood

Pete Conrad has run ahead to find a place to deploy the experiments we would leave on the Moon. He was searching for a suitable, relatively flat area about 50 feet in diameter and at least 300 feet from the lunar module.

We knew it wouldn't be an easy task for Pete because there were craters as far as we could see in every direction. Little craters, big craters, and medium-sized ones, and the lunar surface between them was uneven and undulating. Pete finally spotted a perfect area about 600 feet from our home of the Moon.

In the painting, I am carrying our ALSEP experiments, which include a seismometer, a magnetometer, solar wind spectrometer, suprathermal ion detector, and a cold cathode gauge. These are mounted on one end of a barbell carry pole with their nuclear electrical power source on the other end.

Three things about this walk remain in my mind. The thin pole was difficult to carry even in the light lunar gravity because it was hard to keep my hands closed around it - the pressure inside the suit tended to force the gloves open. Also, I could feel the heat, radiated by the thermonuclear power unit, on my right leg, even through my suit. Finally, the pole was so flexible that, as I walked, the ends would bounce up and down and the experiments and power unit would keep coming partly off the pole.

It took us about 2 hours to unpack, set up, and align the five experiments. When ALSEP was activated, the first thing it recorded was our own footfalls as we loped back to the lunar module.

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