A fender crisis averted

As Schmitt made for the deployment site, however, it would be the LRV that suffered some inadvertent damage.

Instructions for the fender repair were transmitted to the Apollo 17 crew. Pages from the USGS Lunar Surface Map Package were taped together inside the Lunar Module and then clamped to the damaged fender. It worked surprisingly well. (NASA)

"Oh, you won't believe it,'' Cernan moaned.

"You did it again,'' Schmitt answered, thinking Cernan had hit the wrong button on the gravimeter experiment.

"No! There goes the fender,'' the Commander replied. Cernan had stowed the lunar hammer in his shin pocket and, as had also happened with Young on Apollo 16, the hammer snagged on the right rear fender extension and pulled it off its extension rails. Jim Sisson couldn't believe it had happened again. Lunar dust was the enemy of thermal control, and Ron Creel and the others working in the LRV support room knew they had a potential problem on their hands in trying to maintain proper operating temperatures for the electronic equipment. This would also make Cernan and Schmitt's suits filthy and the lunar dust would foul the closures and seals. Keeping their visors and camera lenses free of dust would also be a problem. Despite being a fine powder, lunar dust was extremely abrasive and would scratch the visors of their helmets.

"I hate to say it, but ... I'm going to have to try to get that fender back on,'' Cernan told Parker.

"Okay. Was it the rear fender, Geno?'' Parker asked.

"Yeah. Caught it with my hammer, and it just popped right off.'' Cernan asked Schmitt if the roll of gray duct tape was under the Commander's seat of the rover. Schmitt said it was, and Cernan said he might have to use it. Schmitt, meanwhile, was exerting considerable effort in carrying the ALSEP out to the deployment site. While it weighed only /6 of the several hundred kilograms it weighed on Earth, it still had mass and Schmitt's breathing was noticeable. He had to go to maximum cooling on his PLSS.

"Well, if it wasn't for that fender, I'd be ready to go,'' Cernan remarked. "Makes me sort of mad! Well, I've done this in training. I can't say I'm very adept at putting fenders back on, but I sure don't want to start without it.'' Cernan retrieved the tape from under his seat, picked up the fender extension and placed it back on the fender, only to find that one of the extension rails had broken off. Ed Fendell kept the TV camera on Cernan as he proceeded with his fender repair. With amazing dexterity, Cernan peeled off strips of gray tape and attempted to tape the extension to the main fender. It was not a perfect fix, but he managed to tape the extension temporarily in place.

"I think it'll stay, for an indefinite period of time right now,'' Cernan told Houston. "Not bad for EV gloves.''

Cernan quickly read from his Cuff Check List and verified that the rover was configured before driving out to the vicinity of Schmitt's ALSEP site. He turned the TV camera around, shut it off, climbed on the rover and then reported the battery temperatures, which read 100 and 120 degrees F, to Houston. Parker directed him to orient the LRV up-Sun after he had parked eighteen meters north of the ALSEP site and to then open the battery covers. With the rover facing the Sun, the open battery covers would shade the battery radiators and permit them to radiate heat to open space. Cernan realigned the High-Gain Antenna and Houston could now watch the rest of the ALSEP deployment. While Schmitt was leveling and deploying the ALSEP, Cernan removed the drill core stems from the back of the LRV. He assembled the first stem with a solid pointed tip to the drill and began to drill the hole for the first heat flow probe. The heat flow experiment was the creation of Dr. Marcus Langseth, its Principal Investigator. It proved strenuous work, with Cernan's heart rate exceeding 130 beats per minute, and he had to rest numerous times before he reached the required depth of 2.5 m. He then sank another hole for the second heat flow probe. The bore stems were left in place and Cernan pushed the probes to the bottom of each hole using a special rod designed for the task. He then placed a radiation shield over each hole. Meanwhile, Schmitt was busy deploying the Geophones around the ALSEP site. Near the third Geophone was a small boulder, dubbed Geophone Rock, which Schmitt surmised had been blown out of Camelot Crater. It was Schmitt's first chance to do geology since they had landed. Despite being twenty minutes behind the EVA timeline, he worked quickly to identify the rock's structure and took photographs. He was able to identify pyroxene and plagioclase and what appeared to be brown glass.

Houston had a superb picture of the lunar activities of Cernan and Schmitt from the rover's TV camera. Those images were the result of new technology first

Jack Schmitt took this photo prior to EVA-2 at the SEP site. The South Massif is to Cernan's left and Family Mountain is in the distance. The gray device on the Lunar Hand Tool Carrier near the replacement fender is the Traverse Gravimeter. (NASA)

employed during Apollo 16. In 1971, John Lowry launched a new company called Image Transform in North Hollywood, California. Lowry had worked for years in the film and TV industry and had developed the means of dramatically improving the image quality of video tape-to-film transfers. He received six image processing patents at the time for video noise reduction and other related developments. He was given some video footage from Apollo 15 to clean up, and the results impressed even Lowry himself, improving the video signal-to-noise ratio by 3 to 6 db. He felt he could make a contribution towards improving the video images for future Apollo missions and in February 1972, two months before the launch of Apollo 16, Lowry met with Col. James McDivitt at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston. Lowry brought with him three short clips from Apollo 15 to show McDivitt, of both before and after the image transfer process. McDivitt was impressed and Lowry's company was contracted to process the video images beamed to Earth from Apollo 16. During that mission, the video signal was beamed to Earth from the High-Gain Antenna on the rover to the big dish in Goldstone, Arizona and was then sent to Houston and on to North Hollywood, where the Image Transform process was applied. Then it was sent back to Houston. The Australian ground stations at Parkes, Honeysuckle and Sydney performed that duty when acquiring the signals beamed from the Moon. Image Transform was also contracted to process the video for Apollo 17.

Cernan's next task was to sink the deep core sample tube. He had to lean on the drill for a third time, but after sinking the tube to its desired depth, could not extract it with the drill. He had to use the jack and treadle to pull the compacted core tube stems out. The core tube was extracted inch by inch, but Cernan's heart rate rocketed up to 150 beats per minute and his labored breathing was clearly audible. The flight surgeon urged CapCom Parker to tell Cernan to take a break and the astronaut willingly complied, switching his PLSS to maximum cooling. Schmitt had to go over and assist Cernan in extracting the core tube and together they finally succeed in extracting the recalcitrant tube. They completed their remaining tasks and sample collection, but by this point they were nearly forty minutes behind their timeline for the EVA. Their stop at Station 1 would have to be shortened, with Cernan also having consumed more than the planned amount of oxygen in his PLSS. They got ready for their traverse to Station 1.

"You haven't been on the Rover yet,'' Cernan told Schmitt. "It's real easy; but it's also very easy to kick dust all over those battery covers [Cernan meant battery radiators], so don't even get on it until I put those battery covers down.''

"Yeah. Hey, I guess we ought to press on as if we're going to Station 1,'' Schmitt answered.

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