VALE MR BEAN
Astronaut Alan Bean became the fourth person to set foot on the Moon as part of NASA’s Apollo 12 mission in 1969, just a few months after the feat was first and most famously accomplished by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
Bean died recently, aged 86, and his passing was mourned by the scientific community, space aficionados in the general public and an academic in Perth, who had become his pen pal in recent years.
University of WA adjunct professor Brian O’Brien’s association with the Moon dates back as far as Bean’s, with O’Brien actually lecturing NASA’s astronaut class of 1964 — which included Bean, Aldrin and Armstrong — on the upper atmosphere and radiation before they went into space.
O’Brien also won a global competition to design experiments for NASA’s lunar program, inventing a matchbox-sized dust detector that was installed on the Moon’s surface by Aldrin during the Apollo 11 mission.
O’Brien told Inside Cover that Bean was someone who “told it as it was” and was “of great and willing professional help” when it came to promoting the danger lunar dust posed to astronauts and equipment on the Moon.
In fact, Bean recognised the dust danger during his first moonwalk.
“This (lunar dust) is going to be a real problem,” Bean was recorded saying during his first extravehicular activity. “Everything that touches the ground picks it up ... Uh-oh.”
Lunar dust is fine, like talcum powder, yet sharp as glass, and O’Brien said Bean’s quotes from the surface of the Moon were vital in comprehending the challenge it presents.
“I will greatly miss Alan’s solid encouragement for my dust discoveries over the years, and his ever-positive friendship,” O’Brien said.
YELL AT REBELS
The wounds are still fresh from Rugby Australia’s decision last year to axe the Western Force from Super Rugby instead of the Melbourne Rebels.
So, it’s no surprise to hear Rebels club officials are worried next Saturday’s clash with the Force at nib Stadium, as part of Andrew Forrest’s World Series Rugby competition, could degenerate into a grudge match.
IC understands the Rebels were so concerned about this possibility that Force chief executive Nick Marvin took the unusual step of publishing a letter of “goodwill” on the Force website.
We have no doubt the game will be played in the right spirit, but we sure hope a packed nib gives the Rebels heaps.
Astronaut Alan Bean.