Scotts experience on the moon in "Waliking on the Moon" by David R. Scott
Length: 1994 words (5.7 double-spaced pages)
“WALKING ON THE MOON” by David R. Scott, an American astronaut, is an account of his experiences on moon which he has narrated by the use of figurative language. He has described each aspect with deep detail in order to portray the moon which is merely seen afar. He has employed various techniques to describe the moon and to make his experiences comprehendible to all and sundry. HE compares, every now and then, his experiences on the moon with the earth.
Scott, with his companions in Endeavour, made twelve revolutions around the moon. It took them, two hours to complete one revolution which they did in one hour of illumination and one of darkness. He beautifully describes the darker part of the moon which was suffused with “earth shine”. The light which the moon received from earth was much intense and bright than the moon light visible from earth. Therefore, they could easily view the mountains and the craters in the earth light.
Stars embellished the sky, ahead and above them, with their “icy fire” and an “arc of impenetrable darkness blotted the firmament”. Then at dawn “barely discernible streamers of light” gradually illuminated the moon. Then within a second the sun scattered its intense light and brightened everything and “dazzled” their eyes.
In the “lunar morning” the surface of the moon appeared to be of “milk chocolate colour” The pointed shadows highlighted the hills and craters. The writer delineates the changes in colour. As the sun rouse higher and higher the colour of mountains became gray and the shadows reduced in size.
The writer describes the moon as an “arid world”. The lunar day and night continued till 355 earth hours. The moon seemed to be preserved in the time of its creation. Craters formed by the striking of meteorites, millions of years ago, were conspicuous. As the writer saw at the dark sky he caught a glimpse of the earth gleaming in space, “all blue and white, sea and clouds.” The earth looked brightly lit in the cold and limitless emptiness of space. Scott surveyed and photographed the moon. On the moon there were “incredible variety of landforms.” The lunar mountains stood in “noble splendor”. There were ridges and mountains 11000 feet high. The canyons and gorges were more than one thousand d feet deep.
They appeared to be very placid as they were never attacked by winds and rains. Their magnificence inspired the writer.
The bases of the mountains were streaked by a “dark line”. To make the picture vivid he describes the line as a “bathtub ring”. This ring was formed by the lava. The cavity of Palus Putredinis was immense and was formed billions of years ago. They landed on the edge of Mare Imbrium which stretched for 650 miles and was dug out by a “celestial projectile”.
The writer and his companion Jim felt a pleasing sense of liberation after staying for 5 days in the space craft. They enjoyed moving on the moon. They could not move freely because of weightlessness. They weighed only a “sixth of their normal poundage”. The writer again employs comparison to describe their movement on lunar surface. They walked with a jumping motion similar to the jumps on a trampoline. Their gait was quite rhythmic. It was hard for them to stop and start moving. To start they had to bend their bodies forward. To stop they had to dig in and move backwards.
“To fall on the moon is to rediscover childhood.” They fell many times without hurting themselves. Falling on the moon was not considered by them to be of humiliation rather it was a new experience that they easily accepted. More oxygen supply was required on getting up which spoiled the enjoyment of falling. The writer enjoyed the up and down motion because of slight gravity more than the complete weightlessness of space between the earth and the moon.
They assembled their equipment and move about in their Rover at the speed of about 6 miles an hour. The Rover was a battery-powered four-wheeled vehicle. While traveling on the Rover Scott looked around at the plains and mountains that “had become their world”. The writer describes the moon as an “alien wasteland.” He was the first one to see the high peaked mountains and to step on them. HE considered himself to be a trespasser in “an eternal wilderness.”
The moon dust seemed to be a mixture of coal dust and talcum powder which shrouded the lunar surface. They were the only living beings strolling on the moon at that time. Their walk imprinted their footprints sharply on the dusty surface of the moon.
Colour went through a peculiar alteration. Everything beneath and surrounding was gray and steadily this color blended into golden that specify far-away objects. As they walked the colours kept on changing. They collected rock, in which most were grey, but two were black, two were pastel green, “several with sparkling crystals”. Some were covered with glass, and was white. The writer thus beautifully portrays each and every feature of the moon. Colours make the essay interesting and flamboyant.
Everything on the moon was at a standstill. “No wind blows. No sound echoes. Only shadows move.” The lunar morning was quite hot having a temperature of 150 F.
Any malfunction in their space suits or LM could cause sudden death of the astronauts. The writer and his companion had firm believe in their skills, unlimited trust in the engineers and technicians who had forged the resourceful machines that transported them in space.
The writer and his companions had to face problem in recognizing distances as there were no “measuring sticks of our native planet.” Steadily they become used to the wilderness and learned to deal with the big, normal and small sized craters that were present nearly everywhere on the moon. The moon then became a “friendlier place” as they began to understand thing. The writer thought if moon men would be able to locate distances on overcast earth crowded with trees.
It appeared to them that the photographs they had taken provided them with the evidence that went beyond time for they might be taking pictures of the distant past of their own planet. They kept on moving in their Rover which functioned properly and collected pieces of “history”. They jumped across the “chuckholelike” craters. The movement and effect of their rover was like that of a boat in a coarse sea. After each expedition they returned jaded to the space craft that was like the earth to them that comforted them in space. They carried inside the smell of the moon dust that was like that of the gunpowder. Their air-purifying system drove it away but the dust was adhered to their suits.
In order to sleep in the spacecraft they created a dark atmosphere by obscuring the windows of the LM by shades and switched off lights. They performed all those things that they used to do at sunset on the earth. Then they slept comfortably in hammocks which they had found uncomfortable on earth.
As they moved in Rover during their third excursion they felt the moon to be their home as they had then become quite familiar to it- the mountains and the craters- and could easily recognize distances. They were first astronauts to travel across the moon and they did it without any worry” They had a small cardboard sun compass with them in case if their Rover navigation system might fail. The confidence that had aroused in them was not because of the instruments but because of the perception they had gained of their surroundings.
They had become so aware of their surroundings that they date to take a shortcut. The Rover jumped between the wavy lunar surface and crater edges that obscured their view of the LM but they succeeded in reaching their destination. As they approached towards their LM the writer realized that they would be leaving the moon in a while which he sensed as an approaching deprivation. He had begun to have a eccentric fondness for the “peaceful, changeless companion of the earth”.
On their return from the third excursion, Scott and Irwin mounted the ladder to get into the space craft. They left the Rover and other equipment outside, and while looking at them Scott thought that how these things and their footprints might continue to stay behind them on the moon forever, as the vacuum of the “lifeless realm” knew only “negligible decay”. They thought of the new US programme to send space ships to other planets like Mars after discontinuing the moon visits which made them realize that perhaps that was the last visit to the moon and thus their lunar machines, products of human workmanship that bore historical interest, might remain on the moon uninterrupted for ages and ages.
From the ladder Scott viewed the earth which appeared to be a bright sphere in the dark space. It was “so blue, so beautiful, so beloved” but in the danger of facing environmental problems and shortage of food and energy. He and other spacemen believed that space exploration might help humanity to discover newer and better resources.
They were proud as they had completed their program but along with it they were concerned about the fate of the earth and its inhabitants. They thought to include few more items in the things they were leaving behind them on the moon. They presume that those all things would be an epitome of their age in the ongoing human life. They thought that in the coming ages the astronauts belong from other parts of the world might find their leftovers, their track and their machinery. They left there a plate of aluminum which bore a picture of the two hemispheres of earth, engraving of the name of space craft and list of the crew and the date of their task. They left all those things to make the future visitors on the moon understand, by the foot prints and the devices, that what type of beings they were and what were their original whereabouts. They also left a falcon feather and a four-leaf clover to represent fauna and flora respectively on earth.
They also placed in a hollow in the moon dust a figure of a man in space suit and another metal plate with the name of the fourteen Russian and American spacemen who had participated and given their lives in space exploration. Then they placed the Holy Bible in the hollow. Scott has assigned historical importance to the objects and equipment left behind on the moon.
They had finished there task and were ecstatic and exhausted. Their scientific expedition reached the end with a great success. They presented a summary about their mission and its accomplishments and finally the group of astronauts dispersed.
Two years later, working in the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Centre near Houston, Scott thought of his three day stay on the moon. He remembered everything and could recall it bit by bit but it was amazing for him rather unbelievable that he had really trodden on the moon.
Now and then, while walking or driving along a Texas road in the US on an autumn night, Scott looks at the moon that appears “bright and proud over the clouds”. He notices the largest circular splotch on the silvery moon, Mare Imbrium- the big crater, which reminds him of the time when he landed on to its edge. He feels that he may not return to the moon ever on which his thoughts get filled with a rush of reminiscence as he misses the moon which had become a home-like place. Whenever he looks towards the moon he views something brilliant instead of void and unfriendly on which man stepped into a never ending limit.