Apollo 12 Mission Summary

Apollo 12 set sail on November 14, 1969 – less than four months after Armstrong and Aldrin first set foot on the moon. Commander Pete Conrad and Lunar Module Pilot Al Bean had one task in mind for Apollo 12: landing within walking distance of Surveyor III probe in Ocean of Storms.

Landing on the Moon

NASA’s Apollo program began to shift away from being an adventure ride and more of an investigation of what was possible, with two successful moon landings behind them and much turbulent space travel ahead for Commander Charles “Pete” Conrad, Command Module Pilot Dick Gordon and Lunar Module Pilot Al Bean as their crew endured one of the roughest missions ever attempted in space travel history.

First time ever, astronauts successfully transferred from their LM to a lunar surface and conducted several lunar surface experiments. Additionally, they completed their second EVA (extravehicular activity), collected over 75 pounds of lunar samples, improved landing accuracy thanks to procedural modifications implemented specifically to address that problem, and Intrepid touched down within sight of Surveyor III in Oceanus Procellarum as planned – exactly according to plan!

This mission had three primary goals. They included inspecting lunar mare area plains and deploying an Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP); further evaluate human ability to work in lunar environment for extended periods; develop techniques for precision landing capabilities and gain photos of candidate sites for future exploration; as well as collecting surface rocks for geological examination as well as performing an inspection on Yankee Clipper ascent stage atop Saturn V’s third stage.

Bean and Conrad trekked more than three kilometers (3,300 feet) over four days on their lunar surface excursion, following large-scale photographic maps they carried with them and conversing constantly with Houston scientists throughout their trip. Although applying their geology training to an unfamiliar environment proved to be challenging at first, their efforts proved fruitful: they collected an ample supply of rocks while their instruments left behind provided streams of valuable data streams back.

One such instrument was the ALSEP seismometer, which collected seismic data over an extended period. When the ascent stage released and deorbited to impact with the moon, vibrations lasting more than half an hour were caused. Seismologists had no explanation as they couldn’t compare these effects with any seen on Earth.

Conrad and Bean planned on returning to the LM for one final lunar surface inspection and photographing Surveyor’s landing site as every Apollo crew had done previously. But before doing so, they removed several pieces of Surveyor for further analysis on Earth to assess what impact 2 1/2 years in space had had on it.

First Extravehicular Activity (EVA)

Apollo 12 marked the first time astronauts ventured outside their spacecraft into lunar orbit. Commander Charles “Pete” Conrad and crewmate Alan Bean had previously served on Gemini V and Gemini XI missions together, but this two-hour excursion marked their inaugural EVAs on the moon. Their goals included inspecting lunar mare (plains), deploying Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Package (ALSEP), and taking photos of candidate sites for further investigation.

As part of their preparations for their EVA, astronauts donned space suits and opened the hatch of command module Yankee Clipper to release lunar air into their suits. Conrad remained inside while Bean ventured outside into lunar air. Before setting foot on lunar soil, they checked glove temperatures before opening the hatch – finding them to be around 75deg F!

As part of their EVA, they retrieved a grapple from ALSEP and transferred it to the left-side truss at the station, removed antennas for inspection, transferred a materials science experiment onto ELC-2 for long-duration exposure, as well as removed and inspecting antennas.

As part of an EVA, they began routing cables from the new space station docking adapters to connect lander and command module docking adapters on Surveyor 3. During this phase of their mission, they noticed damage to lander surface due to space debris; their hope was to find more lunar rock samples for comparison against Surveyor 3 which still orbited after two and half years on the Moon.

About halfway through an EVA, Conrad noted he was overheated and that his helmet visor had become fogged up with perspiration. Regardless, he continued his work, moving so fast at times that they nearly ran. At one point, Bean and Conrad seemed almost running alongside one another; at this time Conrad felt like he was on a moving platform like a giraffe; his heart rate had reached 160 beats per minute!

Conrad and Bean completed all their tasks and returned safely to the LM. Although they completed all the same tasks again on their second EVA, damage to their television camera prevented them from filming footage for audiences at home – an important setback in terms of space travel’s public image, as Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Neil Armstrong had captured people’s imagination through their EVAs during Gemini 11. This would prove detrimental to space exploration efforts overall as people had become fascinated with Aldrin and Armstrong’s EVAs on Gemini 11; as an audience had become fascinated with Aldrin and Armstrong’s EVAs during Gemini 11 as an audience had become entranced with Aldrin and Armstrong’s performances during Gemini 11’s EVAs performed by Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Neil Armstrong while audiences back home had become entranced by Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Neil Armstrong’s EVAs performed by Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Neil Armstrong’s EVAs performed by Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Neil Armstrong had been riveted with their EVA performances on Gemini 11 performed by Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Neil Armstrong’s EVA performances aboard Gemini 11 themselves captivated them during Gemini 11 respectively on Gemini 11. This setback in space travel as audiences had been entranced by Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Neil Armstrong performed by Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Neil Armstrong on Gemini 11. This setback in terms of public interest, particularly that public had become riveted Aldrin and Neil Armstrong while Armstrong performed on Gemini 11, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin/N Armstrong’s Gemini 11.

First Seismic Experiment on the Moon (ALSEP)

Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Packages (ALSEP) were special spacecraft equipped with seismometers and other instruments to study the Moon’s interior structure and compare it with its surface appearance. Each astronaut had one attached during construction at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory; each carried different combinations of experiments on board their spacecrafts.

Apollo 12’s ALSEP consisted of two passive seismic devices and one active seismic device as well as magnetometers, temperature probes, ion sensors and radio frequency uplink systems for communication with control consoles inside LM and ground controllers via radio frequency uplink systems – with 2119.0MHz uplink frequency used both for telemetry/command transmission as well as communication uplink.

As lunar surface conditions can be so harsh, ALSEPs need to be operated with great care in order to minimize malfunctions. To do so, astronauts followed instructions from their ground crew in assembling and activating equipment before its deployment on the surface.

As soon as ALSEP was in its new home, the astronauts and geologists quickly set about collecting rocks samples in its vicinity. Their aim was to discover younger rocks than those collected during Apollo 11 mission and also look for signs of cosmic particles; making ALSEP rocks particularly attractive due to their youth and proximity to craters.

Bean and Conrad performed an EVA mission during which they gathered 75 pounds of samples. They visited Surveyor 3 to retrieve its probes placed on the Moon by Surveyor 3, so as to assess any long-term impacts from spending two-and-a-half years there.

At an afternoon news conference, one of the ALSEP scientists made an unexpected announcement: the Moon had started “ringing.” According to him, this phenomenon was similar to striking a bell in a church belfry and hearing it continue ringing for 30 minutes afterwards. While reluctant to offer an interpretation at this stage, he is confident it will provide valuable information.

First Color Television from the Moon

As Apollo 11 made its way from orbit towards landing, its astronauts broadcast television images that gave us our first color views of the Moon. However, 42 minutes into its inaugural broadcast astronaut Alan Bean accidentally pointed his camera directly at the Sun causing its vidicon tube to burn out and forcing the rest of their lunar excursion to depend on audio recordings for communications with earth.

Conrad and Bean conducted two EVAs where they returned Surveyor 3’s TV camera for return to Earth, obtained photographic panoramas of lunar surface terrain, collected core and trench samples from within its interior and photographed proposed future spacecraft landing sites. Furthermore, they examined and disassembled Surveyor 3, using tools to remove its TV camera and scoop before dismantling and stowing its parts.

They tested a new system for creating and transmitting high-resolution color images from the lunar surface using field sequential color technology developed by Baird four decades earlier.

Apollo 12 crew members were more focused on performing an excellent landing than on proving they could land successfully, landing at the edge of a crater just 600 feet from Surveyor III, a robotic spacecraft sent ahead by NASA that sent ahead cameras, scoops and other pieces of equipment with them – they used a bolt cutter to remove these from Surveyor III before placing it back inside their lunar module for storage.

As they returned to the LM, astronauts must have been exhausted; yet they quickly got back to work during their second EVA mission. On this excursion they collected and installed a working lunar module TV camera; conducted photographic panorama experiments; collected rock, soil, bedrock and meteorite samples from multiple locations; retrieved a malfunctioning lunar module TV camera from orbit; conducted photographic panorama experiments and collected rock soil bedrock meteorite samples for further study; as well as retrieving an unserviceable lunar module TV camera that they found during their first EVA expedition.

As part of their second EVA mission, the astronauts spent time working in a crater that was filled with boulders, which required them to spend most of their time pushing out boulders out of the way. Although this task could be tedious, astronauts used this time for conversation about home and family matters. Their second EVA mission was therefore much less formal than Apollo 11.

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