Experiment Operations During Apollo EVAs

Experiment: Surveyor 3 retrieval


Astronaut Bean and two U. S. Spacecraft on the surface of the Moon. This photograph shows how close Conrad landed the LM to its target point (AS-12-48-7135).

PI/Engineer: R. E. Benson, JSC
Other Contacts: B. G. Cour-Palais, JSC

Apollo Flight Nos.: 12
Apollo Exp't No.:

Discipline: Materials of Construction

Weight: NA
Dimensions: NA

Manufacturer: NA

After a 30 month exposure of Surveyor 3 on the surface, the A-12 crew inspected the spacecraft and retrieved key parts from it for further analysis on Earth...sort of an LDEF of the Moon. The effects of the A-12 LM blast ejecta, micrometeroid effects on electronics (TV camera), cables, metal structure, mirrors, etc., analysis of the sampler scoop, effect of a low temperature oxygen plasma on the coatings, induced radioactivity, and microbe survival in the lunar environment, were a few of the studies conducted. It also allowed verification of the original remote analyses performed by the alpha-backscatter instrument on Surveyor.

Unloading from the LM: NA

Transporting by foot or MET:
A "Surveyor parts bag" was attached to the CDR's PLSS by the LMP. The cutting tool was in the bag.

Loading/unloading tools/exp'ts on LRV: NA

Site selection:
The precision landing required to land near the S3 site was required, but once accomplished, there was no astronaut site selection. The crew actually saw Surveyor crater during the descent. The LM landed ~163 m from the spacecraft, just outside the radius of 150 m which was to be avoided to minimize contamination of the Surveyor vehicle by LM exhaust and dust. A geology traverse was part of the trip to and from the spacecraft.

Deploying experiment: NA

Check-out of experiment:
The crew visited the spacecraft on the second EVA. Photography of specific parts was planned, including vernier engines, klystron, foot pads, power supplies, solar panels, and others. Also, photography of some of the same scenes viewed by the S-III TV camera provided a comparison of trenches and other scenes over time.

Operation of experiment:
As the CDR cut specific parts off of S-III the LMP caught the samples. A cable sample (~10 cm) was caught in a special bag (the SESC). There were pockets in the parts bag for each item returned. Some surfaces were wiped and then photographed to document any dust accumulation.

Repairs to experiment: NA

Recovery/take-down of experiment: NA

Stowing experiment for return: The parts were stored in a bag for return.

Loading/unloading samples on LRV: NA

Loading of exp't/samples into the LM: Nominal.

Stowing of package once in the LM:
The storage of the Surveyor parts bag and its components in the LM was completely satisfactory.

Sampling operations - soil, rocks:
The crew retrieved a painted tube, an unpainted tube, the TV camera, a cable, and the scoop. Some soil that was in the scoop was returned, as well.

Trenching: NA

Raking: NA

Drilling: NA

Navigating/recognizing landmarks: NA

Were there any hazards in the experiment?
i.e. hazardous materials (explosive, radioactive, toxic), sharp objects, high voltages, massive, bulky, tripping hazards, temperatures?:
Concern existed before the mission about operating on the inner slope of the crater (Surveyor crater) where S3 had landed. A 10 meter tether was provided in case stability was questionable.

Was lighting a problem?: No.

Were the results visible to the crew?: Some discoloration was evident to the crew.

Would you recommend any design changes?: NA

Were any special tools required?:
A cutting tool was used to remove the TV camera and tubes. A 30 foot (9.1 m) tether was included in case the steepness of the slope made operation difficult, but it was not needed. The crew recommended that a 100 foot (30 m) tether would be ideal for determining whether or not a specific crater wall with steep sides was adequate for descent to obtain samples inside it. This was flown on A-13 and 14, but never used.

Was the orientation of the experiment (i.e. horizontal/vertical) important? Difficult?
The spacecraft was on a 12 degree slope, but there was no feeling that it was likely to slide downhill nor was there a problem maintaining balance.

Was the experiment successful?: Yes.

Were there related experiments on other flights?:
The thermal degradation (TDS) experiment considered the degradation of thermal properties of coatings after exposure to the lunar dust. The long duration exposure facility (LDEF) was placed in LEO for 6 years to investigate the effects of the low earth orbit environment on various materials. A "Long-Term Surface Exposure Experiment" was begun on A-17. Selected hardware was photographically documented and left on the moon during the mission. Samples of similar material were set aside for long-term storage on Earth. The purpose is to allow comparison of the materials at some future time. The long-term effect of the lunar environment on the materials thus can be evaluated if the A-17 site is revisited. The hardware comprised items which would be flown on A-17 anyway, such as the LEAM experiment, the mirror surface on the LRV batteries, TV, communications unit, thermal blankets on the ALSEP central station, etc.

Where was it stored during flight?: NA

Were there any problems photographing the experiment?:
Some shadows may have been a problem.

What pre-launch and cruise req'ts were there? power, thermal, late access, early recovery?:

What was different between training and actual EVA?:
Some shadows may have been a problem.

What problems were due to the suit rather than the experiment?: No comments by crew.

Any experiences inside the LM of interest from the experiment/operations viewpoint?:
No comments by crew.


"Analysis of Surveyor 3 Material and Photographs Returned by Apollo 12" NASA SP-284, 1972.

Apollo 12 Preliminary Science Report and Apollo 12 Mission Report

Final Apollo 12 Lunar Surface Operations Plan, JSC, October 23, 1969

Apollo Program Summary Report, section 3.2.28 Surveyor III Analysis, JCS-09423, April, 1975.