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Apollo 15 Homage...
A Tale of Three Daves


David Harland and David Woods

Copyright © 2003 by David Harland and David Woods.
Used with permission.


In October 2003, we set out from Glasgow to meet up with Dave Scott for a meal at his favourite Italian restaurant in London. As NASA had not allowed him to keep any of the rocks that he collected on the Moon during his Apollo 15 mission, we decided to present him with surrogates for two of his favourites - the 'Seatbelt Basalt' (Sample Number 15016) and of course, the famous piece of anorthosite that the press named the 'Genesis Rock' (Sample Number 15415). Previously, we had secured what we hoped was a chunk of anorthosite from a mountain at the southern end of the island of Harris in the Outer Hebrides, and a piece of 'aa' type basalt from a lava flow on the island of Tenerife. Although the samples had not been documented in place at either Harris or Tenerife, we planned to perform a simulation of proper sampling and documentation procedures during the traverse from Glasgow to London. To do this, we built a gnomon out of surplus knitting needles and a dollop of 'Blu-Tack', and obtained a number of 'Ziploc' sandwich carriers for use as sample bags.


On our traverse south in the SRV (Scottish Roving Vehicle, see below), we stopped at Jodrell Bank and found, to our delight, that the parking lot is open ground inlaid with small white rocks. Consequently, we gathered up a selection of these local rocks and plonked down our two amongst them. With the simulated sampling site prepared, we took a locator shot (below) showing the SRV and a prominent horizon feature (the Lovell telescope dish); a down-Sun, capturing the calibration chart on the up-sun leg of the gnomon as well as the photographer's shadow and the lower portion of the second person, just as in all those Hasselblad shots taken on the Moon (unfortunately, our budget didn't extend to a Hasselblad!); and a cross-Sun stereopair with a step taken to the left between the first and second images. Finally, we sampled the anorthosite, popped it into the bag numbered 943, took an 'after' shot, and then grabbed the basalt, which went into bag 761.

Jodrell Bank Carpark Anaglyph

Jodrell Bank Carpark Anaglyph, assembly by Yuri Krasilnikov.

Activities at the London Receiving Laboratory

As we finished off our meal with Dave Scott, we announced that we had a surprise for him, presented a set of printed sampling pictures, which we had stapled together at one corner so that he could view them in sequence, and then, to his amazement, gave him the bagged rocks. He promptly extracted our anorthosite, held it against the candle on the table, and said that he could see the glint from the twinning of the crystals, thereby confirming it was anorthosite. To the surprise of the other diners, we then stood, Dave Scott holding the samples, and had our picture taken by the proprietor. Much fun was had by all concerned.

Woods, Scott, Harland at the LRL

(l-r) Woods, Scott, and Harland at the LRL

Note concerning the Scottish Roving Vehicle (SRV):

The SRV, developed for this mission by the Toyota Corporation, is specifically designed for mobility across the non-yielding portions of the terrestrial surface. Trafficability is aided by the prior preparation of a network of routes covered with a mixture of bitumen and roadstone (often anorthosite). The exterior of the SRV is painted with a solar-reflective layer for thermal control while power comes from the intermittent combustion of hydrocarbon fuels, extracted from below the planet's surface, with oxygen, as freely found within the atmosphere.

Provision is made within the vehicle for control via a standard man-machine interface whereby a wheel allows steering functions and a series of pedals permit acceleration, deceleration and for linkage of the engine to the wheels. The narrow power bandwidth of the engine necessitates multiple gearing selections during normal operation and a gear change stick is provided for this purpose.

Development costs for this vehicle are approximately $250 million. However, anticipated production of multiple vehicles for widespread distribution over the planet will reduce the unit cost to accessible levels.

Locator to the SRV

"Locator" to the SRV, with the Lovell Telescope in the distance.

Addendum, 13 August 2009: On the occasion of his 50th birthday, David Woods proudly displays his new number plate, a gift from Anne and sons Stephen and Kevin. The number plate is on the family's new SRV.


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