The redesigned photos reveal how far Alan Shepard hit a golf ball on the surface of the moon

Zoom in / This image consists of six images from the Apollo 14 Lunar Module, optimized and stitched into a single panorama to show the landing scene, along with the location where Alan Shepard hit two golf balls. Each of the astronaut’s PLSS (Life Support Backpacks) backpacks can also be seen on the left.

This week fifty years ago, a NASA astronaut Alan B. Shepard Jr. Made space history when he took over A few golf swings On the surface of the moon during The Apollo 14 mission, I hit two golf balls across the surface of the moon. Space enthusiasts have debated for decades how far the second ball has traveled. We seem Now you have an answerThanks to the efforts of photography specialist Andy Saunders, who digitally enhanced the archive images from that assignment and used them to estimate the golf balls’ final comfort points.

Saunders, who was working with the United States Golf Association (USGA) to commemorate Shepherd’s historic achievement, Advertise His findings on the topic of Twitter. Saunders concluded that the first golf ball to hit Shepard went about 24 yards, while the second golf ball cut 40 yards.

Shepherd’s fondness for the sweet hot was occasionally demonstrated during his successful naval career ahead of NASA, most notably when he was a test pilot at Naval Air Station for the Patuxent River in Maryland. He was on the verge of a court martial because Chesapeake Bay Bridge Loop During a test flight, but fortunately his superiors intervened. When President Dwight D. Eisenhower founded NASA in 1959, Shepard was chosen as one of the seven Mercury astronauts. (The others were Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Joss Grissom, Wally Shira, and Dick Slayton.)

Shepherd defeated a fierce competition chosen for the first American manned mission into space. Russian astronaut Yuri Gagarin became famous as the first man to reach space on April 25, 1961, thanks to the repeated postponements of NASA’s Mercury mission, but Shepard was not far behind. He made his own flight into space one month later, on May 5. Sadly, it was stopped after being diagnosed with Ménière’s disease, which resulted in an abnormally increased fluid volume in the inner ear.

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Four years later, surgery corrected the problem, and Sheppard was allowed the flight. He barely missed his celebrity appointment The Apollo 13 mission– “The most successful failure” for NASA and the subject of the Oscar-winning 1995 film, Apollo 13 (One of my all time favorites). Instead, Shepherd commanded the Apollo 14 mission, which began on January 31, 1971, and landed on the moon on February 5.

to the moon!

The idea for a golf game that Shepherd made came about in 1970 Visit comedian Bob Hope To NASA headquarters in Houston. An avid golfer, Hope made a joke about hitting a golf ball on the moon, and Shepherd thought it would be an excellent way to communicate the difference in the force of gravity to people watching on Earth. So he paid a professional named Jack Harden at the River Oaks Country Club in Houston to adapt Wilson’s Stuff 6 iron head so that it could be attached to a collapsible aluminum and Teflon sampler. Once NASA’s Technical Services division added some finishing touches, Shepard practiced a golf swing on a course in Houston while wearing a 200-pound spacesuit to prepare.

Most popular accounts describe Shepherd as “escaping” two balls and a golf club to the spacecraft, but according to Later interview with Shepherd, That This was not the case. The astronaut implemented the idea after then NASA Administrator Bob Gilroth, who was opposed at first but backed away once Shepherd worked out the fine details. Shepherd also assured Gilroth that the mission would only take place after all official exploration missions had been completed and then only if the mission had finished unimpeded.

On February 6, Shepherd brought the club and two balls. His spacesuit was too bulky to use both hands, so he swung the makeshift wand with only his right hand. After two swings that were “more dirty than a ball”, he touched the ball in his third swing, and “hit” it in a nearby crater. (“It looked like a piece to me, Al,” Apollo 13 pilot Fred Hayes joked while watching from Mission Control.)

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But Shepard succeeded on the fourth attempt. He sent the ball and flew off camera and announced that it had traveled “miles, miles, and miles”. As expected, the impressive 30-second flight exactly showed the difference in gravity between Earth and the Moon. Not to be left out, fellow crewmate Edgar Mitchell used a shaft from Solar Wind Experiment as a spear, which landed near the first golf ball. Once back on Earth, Shepard donated his temporary club to USGA Museum A reproduction has been made that is now displayed in Smithsonian.

The location of the first ball that Shepherd struck was known for some time – it sits in a volcano crater next to Mitchell’s shaft, about 24 yards from where Shepherd stood when he took his swing. The re-mastery of archival photographs from Saunders enabled him to locate the second ball that went the farthest, as well as one of the teams in the lunar soil.

“You can access Apollo pictures in very high quality online,” Apollo historian and video editor W. David Woods told Ars. “These shots were shot at 55mm, negatives and transparency, for 55mm per side. The scans they’ve had on them and available online are 11,000 pixels. So they’re huge, massive images that you can really dive into, if you have image processing experience.” .

Photo tricks

Saunders has this experience. It relied on recent, high-resolution scans for the original Flight movie, and also used a technology known as sub-fill, among other things.

“Some things were shot with 16mm film,” Woods said. “Each individual image is very small and grainy. But if you stack it on top of the other, you cancel the grain, cancel the noise, and you’re left with the images inherent in all those frames. It’s a trick astronomers use, as they capture lots and lots of pictures of one area of ​​the night sky. And they cancel it out.” Noise by stacking pictures the same way. “

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The Apollo 14 crew snapped a series of images from the window of the lunar module to capture the scene for posterity, which Saunders grouped together into a single panorama. According to Saunders, due to the known location of the TV camera, the fingerprints of Shepherd’s shoes could have been identified, indicating his position on his first (failed) attempt. Using a known scale from the images captured by Lunar Reconnaissance Vehicle, Then he was able to measure the point between the cuff and the second golf ball to come out at his estimate of 40 yards.

Saunders, his next book is titled Apollo Remastered, It is estimated that a professional US Open golfer like Bryson Deschamps could, in theory, hit a ball up to 3.41 miles on the surface of the moon, with a suspension time of 1 minute 22 seconds – much further (and longer) than Shepherd’s achievement. As is He told the BBC:

Unfortunately, even an impressive second shot can hardly be described as “miles, miles, and miles”, but of course this was only seen as a half-hearted exaggeration. The moon is actually a giant shelter not covered in rocks. Compression suits severely restricted movement, and due to their helmet visors they struggled to even see their feet. I would challenge any golfer at the club to go to his home court and try to hit a six-iron, with one hand, with a quarter swinging from an uncovered shelter. Then imagine that you are in full fitness, with your helmet, and wearing thick gloves. Also, remember that there was a little bit of gravity to pull the club head down toward the ball. The fact that Shepherd made the call and got the ball up in the air is pretty impressive.

Of course, the astronaut’s legacy as the first human to play golf on the moon remains secure.

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