Tuesday, April 22, 2008

NASA - Moondust and Duct Tape

NASA - Moondust and Duct Tape:
"April 21, 2008: At this year's Great Moonbuggy Race in Huntsville, Alabama, Prof. Paul Shiue of Christian Brothers University was overheard joking that duct tape was his team's 'best engineering tool.' Others felt the same way. The sound of gray tape being torn from rolls practically filled the race course as dozens of college and high school student engineers busily assembled and repaired their homemade moonbuggies.

Little did they know, this was in the finest tradition of lunar exploration. Turning back the clock 36 years reveals the key roll of duct tape in NASA's Apollo program:

The date was Dec. 11, 1972. Astronauts Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt had just landed their lunar module Challenger in a beautiful mountain-ringed valley named Taurus-Littrow on the edge of the Sea of Serenity. Mission planners chose the site for its geological variety: the ground was covered by a mix of giant boulders, hardened lava, orange glass beads (a sign of ancient volcanic fire fountains) and, of course, ubiquitous moondust. The valley itself was a fracture created in the aftermath of an asteroid impact billions of years ago; the history of the Moon, many suspected, might be written along its walls. Jack Schmitt, the first geologist on the Moon, could hardly wait to get started. ..."
My son will be thrilled. He insists on taking not less than one roll of duct tape on all scout camping trips, and when I looked in his pack last weekend there were two complete rolls of tape. My first thought was that here was a potential for a lot of mischief, but I didn't say anything. (He comes up with enough ideas for deviltry on his own, and doesn't need me to give him ideas). After we returned I noted that the rolls were nearly unused -- a far cry from when he was a new scout and would go through nearly a whole roll of duct tape. It seems he is rapidly maturing, and this is a comfort as Susan and I contemplate the fact that he is now eligible for a learner's permit.

Anyway, this story out of NASA is a fascinating look into the ingenuity and imagination of the people that took us into the space age.

And I'll try to lighten up on my son for his fascination with duct tape.

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