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5th of December 2019
50th Anniversary of Apollo 12
November marked the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 12 mission. Once on the Moon, an early task for Conrad and Bean was to lay out all the equipment for the science experiments, the first ALSEP (Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package). ALSEP was a collection of instruments, including seismometers, magnetometers, and solar wind sensors, designed to monitor the lunar environment for at least a year after deployment: most of our knowledge about the Moon’s interior comes from the ALSEP data. Once the ALSEPs were established on the Moon by successive Apollo missions, the downloading of data was shared around the tracking station network, including Honeysuckle Creek. The image above shows Pete Conrad with the ALSEP Lunar Surface Magnetometer. The Lunar Module and deployable S-band antenna are visible in the background. When the Lunar Module returned to the Command Module, its ascent stage was driven into the lunar surface at 6000 km/hr to exercise the ALSEP seismometers. Geophysicists were surprised to find the shock waves remained detectable for almost an hour, due to extremely dry nature of the lunar rocks -- with no moisture to damp out the vibrations, they continued for much longer than the few minutes they woud have on Earth. More details are given in Hamish Lindsay's essay on the Apollo 12 mission on the Honeysuckle Creek website.

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