|Early Days Gerard Kuiper Missions to the Moon Telescopes & Research|
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The students came to me. We did not have any kind of program in what they wanted. As I recall them telling me, they were brought here by Kuiper, with the understanding that they would be able to get a degree of some sort in planetary science or astronomy or whatever. They were a mix of physics and electronics and Russian and astronomy combined minors or majors, and there were three of them: Bill Hartmann, Dale Cruikshank and Alan Binder. I agreed to take them on.
There was a coincidence of these three fellows coming in and my involvement with the U.S. Geological Survey on this new, exciting thing with lunar mapping, lunar geology. I hand-tooled them, in a sense. We had special courses, and I tried to take physicists and astronomers and turn them into geologists—fairly successfully, I think, because they were bright people. That was simply how the program worked. Along the way, others from the Survey came in; others unrelated to the Lunar Lab. I had nothing to do with the Lunar Lab, and Kuiper never spoke one word to me about the program.
I combined lunar mapping and these projects with what these fellows were doing. I set up courses—one course, chiefly, plus seminars that they attended—and they were open to outside students. It wasn’t until about 1972 that the Department of Planetary Sciences formed.
We used to go out on field trips: We’d go down to the Pinacates two or three times a year, and up to Flagstaff. It was just a small group of guys. We all had the same interests, and we all wanted to learn about craters and volcanoes. Spence Titley would take us out on field trips to try to help us get caught up. I definitely wanted to be an Apollo astronaut. Bill I don’t think really cared, Dale didn’t care about that so much, but I wanted to explore, I wanted to get my feet on the ground.
Charles Wood Kuiper had done a lunar atlas that he had published just when he was leaving Yerkes in 1960. It’s a big red cardboard box, must be about two feet by a foot-and-a-half wide, full of large pictures of the Moon. We used those atlas sheets to compile a catalogue of the craters on the Moon, on the near side of the Moon.
I think most of the other people were not students. Some were students and some were people who were hired just to do that all day; Dai Arthur, David William. Dai Arthur is one of the Brits that Kuiper brought over. A couple hours a day after classes I would go and use rulers and measure these craters. It was before computers were widely available; certainly no personal computers had been invented. So we used these old-fashioned adding machines and calculating machines, where to multiply you would key in the numbers, like in a cash register, and then you’d pull a crank multiple times and it would chug, chug, chug, and finally multiply two numbers together.
I did that for four years. I worked my way through school as an undergraduate by measuring craters on the Moon. And the fascinating thing about that is, I still like the Moon. By looking at every single crater that we measured—I was the person who looked at all of them to make sure it was consistent—I really learned the Moon very well. It’s been really a fascination that’s kept going for me for a long time.
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