Washington: Wonder what really happened when Neil Armstrong first stepped on the moon? Well, here's what he wrote to NPR blogger Robert Krulwich that may quench your curiosity too.
In an article he wrote for ''Krulwich Wonders,'' Krulwich pondered why the 1969 Apollo 11 astronauts didn't venture more than 90 yards from the Lunar Module.
And interestingly, NASA astronaut Armstrong responded to Krulwich's blog by sending him a long email.
In the message, Armstrong gave a wonderfully vivid explanation as to what it was like on the lunar surface and why they were limited by what they could do.
"It is true that we were cautious in our planning. There were many uncertainties about how well our Lunar module systems and our Pressure suit and backpack would match the engineering predictions in the hostile lunar environment," Discovery News quoted Armstrong as writing in the e-mail.
To ensure the Apollo astronauts stayed cool Armstrong said, "We were operating in a near perfect vacuum with the temperature well above 200 degrees Fahrenheit" -- NASA had designed a water-cooling system that pumped water around the astronauts'' bodies. But this was the first time it was being used, so there were uncertainties about its performance."
"To verify the cooling system's performance after a lunar walk, the astronauts got back into the re-pressurized lunar module and "were able to drain and measure the remaining water in the backpacks to confirm the predicted," he pointed out.
To minimize any unforeseen incidents, the pair had a strict mission plan, but that didn't mean Armstrong didn't stray just a little. He wrote, "Preflight planners wanted us to stay in TV range so that they could learn from our results how they could best plan for future missions. I candidly admit that I knowingly and deliberately left the planned working area out of TV coverage to examine and photograph the interior crater walls for possible bedrock exposure or other useful information. I felt the potential gain was worth the risk.''
First Published: Friday, December 10, 2010, 17:18