January 28, 2019

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40 Years Ago Today

Originally published November 19, 2009 LPOD-Nov19-09.jpg
Ap 12-51-7507 image from Apollo 12 Lunar Surface Journal

Everyone remembers Neil Armstrong's, Houston, Tranquillity Base. The Eagle has landed. But what were the first words from the second mission to the Moon? Reading the transcript the first words spoken on the Moon by the Apollo 12 crew were between Al Bean and Pete Conrad shutting down systems, but the first exchange with mission control seems to have been at MET 110:33:27 when Conrad said, Okay, we're in hot shape, Houston. We're in real good shape! While still in orbit on the way to the surface, Conrad commented, Pretty darn rugged down there. He could have been talking about the area east of Ptolemaeus, cut by radial striations from Imbrium ejecta. Or perhaps this view, taken by Dick Gordon in the orbiting Command Module, looking across Ptolemaeus to the west. Bean and Conrad probably didn't take the time to study Herschel, the 40 km wide fresh crater near the right center edge of the frame. Landing might be the only way to get to the floor of this crater, for its long smooth steep scarp would inhibit overland transportation - especially if you wanted to drive out. But there will probably be little reason to go the the floors of most craters. Scientifically, the main attraction would be the central peak whose composition would reflect the upper crust 5-10 km below Herschel. And hopefully, impact melt on the crater floor could be found and dated, determining the age of the crater.

Chuck Wood

Technical Details
MET = mission elapsed time - time since launch.

Related Links
Rükl plate 44


Yesterday's LPOD: Tough Moon

Tomorrow's LPOD: Elevated Drapery


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