How far from the Lunar Module did the Apollo 11 astronauts wander after touching down on the surface of the Moon? Five meters? Twenty? How far did their "small steps" actually carry them?

If you're like most people, you probably have no idea. Fortunately for us, NASA has the answer.

The diagrams featured below were created for NASA by one Thomas Schwagmeier, and are based on the original Traverse Map featured in the Apollo 11 Preliminary Science Report. With a little ingenuity, Schwagmier presents this data in a context most of us can immediately relate to: a soccer pitch and a baseball field (click to enlarge):


It's strange to think about humanity's first Moon landing with this newly acquired sense of scale. On one hand, the roughly 90-meter stretch of lunar surface explored by Armstrong and Aldrin seems rather modest; you could log more impressive mileage walking an average city block.

Then again, no city on Earth is home to near-vacuum conditions, or temperatures in excess of 200 degrees Fahrenheit, both of which were endured by Apollo's intrepid moonwalkers. I'd imagine ninety meters suddenly seems a lot more impressive when the only thing between you and the lethal lunar elements is an unwieldy, water-cooled space suit (spacesuits which, it bears mentioning, had never been truly tested in such hostile conditions).


Read more about the first incidences of lunar loping (including an illuminating letter from Armstrong himself) over on NPR. [NASA's Apollo 11 Archives via reddit]