Re: moon dust info - please help

Blaine D. McArthur (
Mon, 02 Nov 1998 23:36:27 -0800

Blaine D. McArthur wrote:

> I will have to pull out my
> old worn issues of National Geographic. I still have the original sound
> recording that came in the issue about the moon landing. Incidently,
> the old Nat. Geo. issues on the Apollo program, as well as old issues of
> Life magazine would also probably refute any questions Joel's friend
> has.

Quick follow up to my last post, I just looked through the Feb. 1969
issue of National Geographic. Found some interesting stuff.

On page 213 there is a photo of Thomas Gold of Cornell University
trowelling some ordinary, dry powdered cement onto the footpad of a
Surveyor spacecraft. The caption reads in part:

"In the long-argued question of the moon's surface composition-whether
rocky, sandy, or powdery...."

There was without doubt, serious debate about the nature of the moons
surface. This can not be denied. Gold,at the time of this article,
several months before the Apollo landing, was not of the opinion that
the dust would be a problem.

There is some mention of the limits of earth bound telescopes; nothing
smaller than 800 feet across. Thus, the Ranger program, as Glenn
mentioned in his post. A total of Seven Rangers. Much improved
resolution, still, NASA engineers were not satisfied. I again quote
from this article, page 218:

"The Apollo planners needed more. They needed to actually test the
surface, to assure that astronauts and spacecraft would not be swallowed
up, as some people feared, in a deep treacherous seas of dust. Five
successful Surveyors,...soft-landed on the moon and gave unequivocal

" each spindly spraddle-leggged craft dropped gingerly to the
surface, its speed largely negated by retrorocket, its THREE FOOTPAD
strength of the surface measured as much as 5 to 10 pounds per square
inch, ample for either astronaut or landing spacecraft." (Emphasis added
by yours truly)

The October 1966 issue of National Geographic addresses the Surveyor
program and its finding. No "Sea of Dust", and NASA planners and
engineers knew this well before the July '69 landing of men on the
moon. There were a few dissenters, who still thought ther may be some
areas where the dust could be much thicker. But just look at those
famous *pads* on the lunar lander. Do you seriously think that if the
dust layer on the surface was 30, 50, 100 feet of more, that those pads
would be of any use at all?

Page 216-217 contains a photomosaic of the area immediately surrounding
Surveyor 7 showing trenches dug by its "claw arm" No evidence of a
"deep, treacherous sea of dust" in this 1968 photo.

I suspect anything in Life (Was Time around back then????) would
probably be in the same vein.

And I would still like to see those old tape of the original TV