Apollo Expeditions to the Moon

CHAPTER 12.2



LITTLE CLOUDS AROUND YOUR FEET

And the dust! Dust got into everything. You walked in a pair of little dust clouds kicked up around your feet. We were concerned about getting dust into the working parts of the spacesuits and into the lunar module, so we elected to remain in the suits between our two EVAs. We thought that it would be less risky that way than taking them off and putting them back on again.

On the first EVA, the first thing I did was to take the contingency sample. When Al joined me on the surface, we started with the experimental setups. We set out the solar wind experiment and the ALSEP items. We planted the passive seismic experiment, deployed and aligned antennas, laid out the lunar surface magnetometer, and took core samples. Some of the experiments started working right away as planned, sending data back. Others weren't set to start operating until after we had left.

We were continually describing what we were doing; we kept up a stream of chatter so that people on the ground could follow what was going on if we were to lose the video signal. And we did lose it, too, soon after we landed. That was hard to take.

Photo of Apollo 12 Lunar Module Intrepid
 
Going its separate way for a landing, the Apollo 12 Lunar Module Intrepid gleams in the sunlight as it pulls ahead of Yankee Clipper, the command module. The view is westward, from a circular orbit 69 miles above the surface, with Intrepid very nearly as high. With the Sun above and behind the camera, the very rough lunar terrain below appears greatly subdued. The circular crater in the middle distance on the right is Herschel. The smooth-floored giant crater Ptolemaeus occupies much of the area to its left.

One strange surface phenomenon was a group of conical mounds, looking for all the world like small volcanoes. They were maybe five feet tall and about fifteen feet in diameter at the base. Both of us really enjoyed working on the surface; we took a lot of kidding later about the way we reacted. But it was exciting; there we were, the third and fourth people on the Moon, doing what we were supposed to do, what we had planned to do, and keeping within schedule. Add to that the excitement of just being there, and I think we could be forgiven for reacting with enthusiasm.

Photo of tracks of Apollo 14 astronauts
 
Tire tracks trace the path of the Apollo 14 astronauts from their lunar module Antares to the site, some 200 yards to the west, where they set up the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP). On this mission, they had a two-wheeled, light, hand-pulled cart (shown here) to carry their equipment and samples. The Modular Equipment Transporter, or MET, had pneumatic tires, which compacted the soil as they rolled. In this photo, taken in the direction of the Sun, the tracks are brightly backlighted. In general, however, where astronauts worked, the soil scuffed up by their boots was distinctly darker than the undisturbed surface material.

Photo of Lunar Module Intrepid
 
Astronaut Alan Bean unloads equipment from the Apollo 12 lunar module Intrepid in preparation for the walk to the ALSEP site. The lunar module-surely the clumsiest-looking flying machine ever built-consisted of a descent stage, destined to remain on the Moon, and an ascent stage that later carried the crew and sampies into lunar orbit. Scientific equipment and gear for use an the lunar surface was stowed in four bays of the descent stage. The panel that covered the bay facing Bean folded down to provide a work table.

Our second EVA was heavily scheduled. We were to make visual observations, collect a lot more samples, document photographically the area around the Ocean of Storms, and- if we could- bring back pieces of the Surveyor III spacecraft. We had rehearsed that part with a very detailed mockup before the flight, and were well prepared.

We moved on a traverse, picking up samples and describing them and the terrain around them, as well as documenting the specific sites with photography. We rolled a rock into a crater so that scientists back on Earth could sec if the seismic experiment was working. (It was sensitive enough to pick up my steps as I walked nearby.) Anyway, we rolled the rock and they got a jiggle or two, indicating that experiment was off and running.


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