Looking back at Apollo; July 1999; Scientific American Magazine; by Staff Editor; 6 Page(s)
On July 20, 1969, on a vast basaltic plain known as the Sea of Tranquillity, astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz"Aldrin, Jr., became the first men to walk on the moon.Thirty years later scientists are still poring over the evidence gathered by Armstrong,Aldrin and the 10 Apollo astronauts who followed them to the lunar surface over the next three years.During the six successful manned missions to the moon, the dozen astronauts collected a total of 380 kilograms (838 pounds) of lunar rock. But just as impressive as the geologic samples was the photographic evidence: 32,000 still pictures,including thousands of shots taken by the astronauts with Hasselblad cameras mounted on the fronts of their space suits.
The film returned to Earth was so precious that technicians at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration duplicated the images just once before putting the film in cold storage.The master duplicates were then used to make copies for newspapers,magazines and museum exhibitions.Until recently,most of the Apollo pictures seen by the public were actually fourth- or fifth-generation copies,with little of the clarity of the original images. But in a new book entitled Full Moon (Alfred A. Knopf, 1999, $50), artist and photographer Michael Light presents a selection of 129 Apollo images that have been digitally scanned from the master duplicates.The sharp,striking photographs capture moments from nearly all the Apollo missions, showing every stage of the journey to the moon.