Apollo 15 Lunar Surface Journal

Apollo 15 Landing Site Model

Copyright © 2005 by Eric M. Jones.
All rights reserved.
Last revised 25 February 2013.


While using the Lunar Module simulator to practice landings and ascents, the astronauts were provided with views of their landing site from the Landing and Ascent ('L&A') Facility. A large model of the landing site was construct and ceiling mounted so that a computer driven television camera could provide a view for the LM windows appropriate to the location, height, and attitude.

Landing Site Model

Journal Contributor Paul Fjeld has located a series of photgraphs showing the Apollo 15 landing site model during preparation and installation starting with delivery on 29 April 1971.

Delivery (1.0 Mb)

The model covers more ground to the left (east on the Moon) of Hadley Rille because the LM will approach from that direction. The South Complex is the prominent group of craters east of the large bend in the rille and the North Complex is a similar distance from the rille and the bottom (north) of the model. 29 April 1971
Mounted for Finishing (1.3 Mb)
The crater on edge of the rille immedaitely east of the big bend is Elbow Crater. As indicated in a labeled version ( 421k ), Dave planned to use a sequence of four craters as a visual guide to his planned landing about two crater diameters northwest of Index Crater. 3 May 1971
Preparation 1 (1.5 Mb)
Two of the people involved in final preparations of the model pose with a planning drawing. South is up.
Preparation 2 (1.1 Mb)
An artist uses an airbrush to apply finishing touches to the landing site model. Shadows are not painted into the crater walls. Those will be produced by appropriate lighting.
Ceiling Mounted with Lighting from the 'West' (1 Mb or 10 Mb)
At the time this photograph was taken, the model was being lit by bright lights on the far (west) side and the shadows in the craters are consistent with that lighting.
Ceiling Mounted with Lighting from the 'East' (1.0 Mb or 10 Mb)
In this image, the model was being lit by bright lights on the righthand (east) side and the shadows in the craters are consistent with that lighting. Note how deep the shadows are. Dave Scott says that the shadows he saw during the actual landing were not as sharp and as deep as these because the craters of the model were a little too deep and their rims too sharp.

Window Views

Markus Mehring located the following simulator window views at the indicated altitudes. In the real LM, the window scale is etched on two separate layers to give the CDR a means of getting proper alignment. This representation has only a single scale.

5000 feet ( 61k )

The South Complex is on the right. A labeled version ( 284k ) shows the relative locations of Dune, Earthlight, Rhysling, Arbeit, Index, Luke, and the pair of craters known jointly as 'Last'. Dave planned to land about two crater diameters northwest of Index but actually landed on the northwest rim of the smaller of the two Last craters. See a detail from Pan Camera frame 9377 ( 109k ).
3000 feet ( 59k )
Earthlight, Salyut, and Index craters are highlighted in a labeled version ( 276k ).
1000 feet ( 59k )
Salyut Crater is highlighted in a labeled version ( 276k ).
500 feet ( 59k )
As Dave Scott discusses after 106:50:01, analysis of radar data from Earth had suggested that the base of Mt. Hadley Delta and, perhaps, the rest of the site had a considerable population of boulders, enough to impact Rover operations. CapCom Joe Allen asked explicitly about 'trafficability' as soon as Dave finished his first SEVA task, which using the sun compass to measure bearings to various prominent horizon features. In this image, we see a number of boulders that were included in the model. There are actually no boulder of any appreciable size anywhere near where Dave landing.

Apollo 15 Model at Brevard (County) Community College

Landing Site Models were built for all the missions - with the Fra Mauro model used for both Apollos 13 and 14. After the Apollo Project ended, NASA planned to discard all the models but, fortunately, at least part of the Apollo 15 model found a home at Brevard (County) Community College. This is where Journal Contributors Frank O'Brien and Mark Trotter independantly spotted the southern portion mounted on a wall, with the bottom (east) edge above head height. Each took a number of pictures.

Mark Trotter's Photos of the Model

Model Plaque ( 211k )

Image 1 ( 1.6Mb )

View of the entire wall. The model is displayed with west at the top.
Image 2 ( 1.2Mb )
Mark moved closer to fill the frame with the model. Craters near the bottom are illuminated by the camera flash from near vertical and have no interior shadows. Craters near the top are illuminated at shallower angles and have deeper shadows. Elbow Crater stands out where the rille turns west.
Image 3 ( 1.0Mb )
Mark moved closer still and because the illumination is from a much shallower angle, all of the crater rims cast at least faint shadows, giving much better definition to the model. the South Complex dominates the eastern (bottom) part of the model.
Image 4 ( 1.5Mb )
View from the left/south.

Frank O'Brien's Photos of the Model

The images below were taken from successively closer distance and, relative to the model surface, shallower viewing angles.

Image 1 ( 246k )

Craters in the South Complex and north to Last Crater are highlighted in a labeled version ( 180k ).
Image 2 ( 243k )
After Frank moved closer to the model, the flash on his camera cast deeper shadows in the craters, most noticeably in the craters on the lower slopes of Mt. Hadley Delta, as indicated in a labeled version ( 248k ).
Image 3 ( 224k )
View to the west over the South Complex toward Elbow Crater and down the rille. See, also, a labeled version ( 232k ).
Image 4 ( 232k )
View to the west over Elbow Crater. See, also, a labeled version ( 240k ).
Image 5 ( 232k )
View over the South Complex toward Elbow Crater and down the rille to the west. See, also, a labeled version ( 236k Image 6 ( 232k )
View to the west over the South Complex. Note the raised rims and striking peak on the near side of Arrowhead, just below and to the right of the center of the image. Compare with a assembly of frames AS15-90-12183 to 12187 ( 158k ) from Jim's Station 6a pan, taken from above the green boulder. A labeled version ( 100k ) is also available. Compare, also, with a detail from Pan Camera frame 9377 ( 1.0 Mb ), which was taken about an hour after the end of the SEVA. A labeled version is also available. And, finally, compare with Jim's Station 4 pan ( 745k ). Some of the crater rims in the South Complex do appear to be raised, but there is no indication of the peak on the eastern side of Arrowhead.


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