Gordon Fullerton, the Wakeup CapCom, roused Cernan and Schmitt from their sleep at 160 hours and 25 minutes GET to start the third and last day of Apollo 17's exploration of Taurus-Littrow. It was Wednesday, 13 December 1972. Throughout the entire mission, the Earth was lower to the Moon's horizon than for any other Apollo mission, and Cernan described the Earth's continents that were visible from the Lunar Module's window. Robert Parker soon came online as the CapCom for EVA preparations and the day's surface activities. Parker went over the station stops and updated Cernan and Schmitt on the subtle changes to the day's planned activities. Unlike Apollo 16's third EVA, the astronauts would have a full day's schedule, with over seven hours on the surface. Cernan was first on the lunar surface again and Schmitt followed several minutes later. They went about the preliminary surface duties as per their Cuff Check List. The rover's LCRU TV camera was powered up and Ed Fendell got the TV camera moving, and soon images of the astronauts' activities were visible in Mission Control. Cernan wanted to know the condition of the LRV's batteries and when he checked, got some disturbing news.
"Well, Bob, Battery 1 is 95 degrees and Battery 2 is reading zero,'' reported Cernan. "So we've got a gauge failure. In fact, it's not reading zero, it's off-scale low.'' This gave the mission support team for the LRV a start. Technicians from Eagle Picher, manufacturer of the LRV's batteries, met with members of LRV Mission Control in the Huntsville Operations Support Center and initiated tests on two backup batteries. The same condition was reported on these batteries. It was determined later that the probable cause was a shorted thermistor as a result of electrolyte leakage through the sensor bond. Nothing more was said about Battery No.2 as Cernan and Schmitt prepared to set out for Station 6 at the base of the North Massif. Cernan used the temperature gauge for Battery No. 1 as a probable indicator of the other battery, but the off-scale low indication remained for the rest of the EVA.
Was this article helpful?