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Apollo 16 50 years later: Remarkable images show historic mission

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Stunning images show the historic Apollo 16 mission 50 years after its launch to the moon.

The images, created by “Apollo Remastered” author Andy Saunders, show NASA’s “Orion” lunar module pilot Charles Duke admiring the view of the rolling highlands of Descartes’ command and service module. Casper” above the lunar horizon, Commander John Young “giant leap”, the lunar rover, and a photo of Duke and his family on the surface of the moon.

Saunders, who previously shared remastered footage of the Apollo 15 moon landing, regularly posts new footage to Twitter and Instagram.


The second of three “J missions”, the main objectives of Apollo 16 were to inspect, study and sample materials and surface features in the highlands region of the moon’s southeast quadrant, to position and activate surface experiments and to conduct in-flight experiments and photographic tasks from lunar orbit.

Astronauts lifted off aboard the Saturn-V rocket SA-511 at 12:54 p.m. EST on April 16, 1972, from Launch Complex 39 at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The lunar module carrying Young and Duke touched down at Descartes — albeit nearly six hours late — at 9:24 p.m. EST on April 20, about 276 meters northwest of the planned spot.

There were two significant command module problems, including one en route to the moon and one in lunar orbit, which contributed to the delayed landing and premature termination of the day-long mission.

An erroneous signal indicating the gimbal lock of the guidance system during the translunar coast phase was overridden by the real-time programming and the backup circuit caused yaw oscillations of the service propulsion system, resulting in a delay of the control module circularization engraving.

The landing of the lunar module took place until the engineers determined that the oscillations would not seriously affect the direction of the command module.

During the more than 71 hours and two minutes on the surface, the astronauts explored the area in three extravehicular activities (EVAs), which totaled 20 hours and 14 minutes.

The first EVA included setting up the Lunar Roving Vehicle and deploying the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP), and the heat flow experiment was lost when Young tripped and snapped the electronics cable.

Astronauts collected samples and photographed Flag Crater, took the first measurement with the Lunar Portable Magnetometer at Spook Crater, and deployed the Solar Wind Composition Experiment at the ALSEP site.


They collected core, surface, and trench samples in the Cinco crater area during the second EVA, and lunar portable magnetometer measurements were taken near Cinco.

A time constraint to meet the ascent schedule shortened the third EVA, during which the crater rim of “House Rock” and “Shadow Rock” were sampled and lunar portable magnetometer measurement readings were taken. there and at the rover parking site, as well as final samples. Finally, they retrieved the solar wind composition and film from a far-ultraviolet camera/spectroscope.

Command Module Pilot Thomas K. “Ken” Mattingly orbited the moon with cameras and the Science Instrument Module (SIM) bay instruments that were operational during Young and Duke’s surface stay and verified Apollo 15 data and information on the lunar terrain.

By the end, Young and Duke had collected 209 pounds of samples and traveled 16.6 miles with the rover.

The lunar liftoff took place on April 23 at 8:26 p.m. EST.

The lunar module was jettisoned after a normal rendezvous and docking and altitude was lost, eliminating the usual deorbit maneuver and planned impact.

Planners elected to reschedule the mission a day early and – after Mattingly’s 83-minute spacewalk to film tapes from the SIM bay – they landed in the Pacific Ocean just before 3 p.m. EST on the 27th. april.

The total duration of the mission was 265 hours and 51 minutes, or just over 11 days.

Notably, the Particles and Fields subsatellite was launched on April 24 at 4:56 p.m. EST to study the moon’s mass and gravitational variations, the composition of space particles near the moon, and the interaction of the field magnetic of the moon with that of the earth.

Saunders noted that when Mattingly noticed a problem with the command module’s main engine, the three astronauts had to visually maintain themselves in lunar orbit for the four hours it took mission control to assess the problem.

Saunders said an image taken by Duke – showing the command module above the lunar surface as blue Earth rises – conveys the enormity of their accomplishments.


Duke, who left a portrait of his family on the lunar surface after the third EVA, told him it was a touching moment.

While the photograph had probably quickly faded and curled up, Saunders is sending a copy of the photograph in a small capsule to the moon this year on the unscrewed Astrobotic Peregrine lander.


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