April 13, 2004

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Apollo 13 on April 13


Apollo 13 on April 13

On April 13, 1970 a damaged Apollo 13 spacecraft rushed toward the Moon. An explosion enroute to the Moon aborted the Moon landing and put the entire mission in great peril. The crew could only return to Earth by using a close approach to the Moon to redirect their spacecraft back to Earth. On their one brief passage around the Moon Commander Jim Lowell noticed that his crewmates were at the window clicking away the Hasselblads taking the photo above and others of the farside. Lowell complained to them, "If we don't make this next maneuver correctly, you won't get your pictures developed!" One of them replied, "Well, you've been here before and we haven't." The Moon apparently captivates even when there is no guarantee of getting home! I can't identify which craters are shown in this image but we can note a couple of things about the lunar surface. The crater under the white tipped beam is a slightly degraded Copernican style impact crater. The floor is smooth and could be either impact melt or some light colored plains material. A much more degraded crater is in the top left corner. This object's rim lacks any structure and gently dips down to its floor. You might think that these two craters differ widely in age, but that is probably not true. Because the rate of impact cratering was so high during the Moon's first half billion years, and then declined rapidly, craters only a few hundred million years different in age can have greatly different states of preservation.

Chuck Wood

Technical Details:
Hasselblad image taken by cold astronaut. Thanks to the Project Apollo Archive!

Related Links:
Apollo Expeditions to the Moon, Chapter 13

Yesterday's LPOD: Procellarum Volcanic Group

Tomorrow's LPOD: The Town in the Lake of Death

Author & Editor:
Charles A. Wood



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