Apollo 15 Flag Deployment
Copyright © 2012 by Eric M. Jones
All rights reserved.
Last revised 21 April 2012.
made from seven LROC images of the Apollo 15 landing site,
ordered from sunrise to sunset. LROC images courtesy
NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University.
The Apollo 15 landing occurred on July 30, 1971, with the crew
spending 67 hours on the lunar surface before returning to lunar
Dave Scott and Jim Irwin deployed the flag late in EVA-2, a
delay due to various problems experienced with their drilling tasks
at the ASEP site. Jim hammered the lower section of the staff a few
inches into the ground.
|Comparison of the Apollo 15
(left) and Apollo 17 flag emplacements. The flag
pole are believed to be identical and are shown at the
same scale. The Apollo 17 flag is one that flew in
the Mission Operations Control Room (MOCR) during Apollo
and is about 20 percent larger in both height and width
than the other flags (3 by 5 feet = 1 by 1.5 m).
Note that the coupling sleeve near the bottom is closer to
the ground in the Apollo 17 case. However, the
difference is only about one pole diameter, or about 1
inch (2.5 cm). (Click
on the image for a larger version.)
|Detail from Figure 5-52 in the
Apollo 15 Preliminary Science Report, showing the flag about 11 meters from the center
of the LM on an azimuth of about 30 degrees. (Click
on the image for the full figure.)
|Detail from AS15-88-11928,
taken by Dave Scott on his way back to the LM from the
final LRV parking place. Jim Irwin is at the MESA.
The LM is 7 meters tall.
|TV frame from a final panorama
made hours after the ascent. The flag is on the
right. The image of the flag is approximately square
compared to a true height/length ratio of 3/5,
implying that the flag is pointing about 37 degrees north
of the direction to the LRV.
|Frame from the DAC film of the
ascent. Liftoff occurred at about 1711 UTC on 2
August 1971. The solar azimuth/elevation were about
115.3/41.4. Figure 5-52 from the Preliminary Science
Report indicated that ALSEP array at the upper right is
125 m from the LM on an azimuth of 297.
|Detail from LROC image
M175252641, taken from an altitude of 25 km at 2103 UTC
on 6 November 2011. The solar azimuth and
elevation were about 116.3/40.7, almost identical to the
illumination of the DAC frame above.
From the post-ascent TV image we
determined that the flag was pointing roughly 37 degrees north
of the direction to the LRV. From the flag, the azimuth of
the LRV is about 103. Therefore, the flag was pointing at
an azimuth of roughly 67, which is about 49 degrees north of the
solar azimuth. The lack of a flag shadow in the DAC frame
may be due to inadequate resolution. The lack of flag
shadows in the LROC images, particularly in the high-resolution
November 2011 image, suggests that the Apollo 15 flag is either
(1) poorly oriented to cast significant shadows, (2) there is
inadequate resolution to view the shadows, or (3) that it fell