Its further away than you think

After completing their photography and sample collection along the rim of North Ray Crater and the vicinity near the rover, including several sizable white boulders. Young and Duke then set their sights on the massive boulder in the distance. But on the Moon, distances were very hard to gauge. The absence of familiar objects often seen on Earth made it very deceiving in trying to estimate either the size of surface features or the distance to them. This phenomenon was about to play itself out again in their trek toward the boulder. House Rock, as it was named, was a spectacular geologic find. It was indeed as big as a house, measuring roughly 12 m high and 25 m long. It had been a portion of the lunar crust blown free during the meteor impact that created North Ray Crater millions of years before.

''Okay, Charlie. Let's go back to the Rover. Put your bag [sample collection bag] on there and head out for the big rock. Because you got a bag on your back, and we'll use it.''

''Look at the size of that biggie!'' remarked Duke.

''It is a biggie, isn't it,'' Young acknowledged. ''It may be further away than we think because . . .''

''No, it's not very far. It was just right beyond you,'' Duke said confidently.

''Theoretically, huh?'' Young replied, doubtful.

''Like everything else around here, a couple of weeks later . . .'' Young replied sarcastically.

He had a suspicion that the big boulder was a lot further away than it appeared. They grabbed their sample collection tools and bags and began their sample collection at various locations close to and far from the rover. Ed Fendell panned and zoomed the TV camera, following the astronauts brilliantly. They appeared to sink into the lunar surface because they were moving down a shallow crater. In another rare moment of humor recorded on film in the science Backroom, Jack Schmitt, watching the TV image on the screen quipped, ''And as our crew sinks slowly in the west, we bid a fond adieu . . .'' Everyone in the room laughed.

As they reached House Rock, Young described the boulder's composition based on his visual observation. England informed them that they had seventeen minutes before the wheels of the rover had to roll again. Sadly, the two astronauts were so intrigued as they walked toward House Rock that neither of them stopped long enough to take good photos of it in its entirety. Duke did take pans once they got closer, and these photos were later pieced together to create a composite of the boulder's base. The face of House Rock proved intimidating to sample, so they knocked some samples from a nearby smaller boulder and took soil samples around the base of House Rock itself. All too soon, England informed them that they had to head back to the rover. When they reached it, Duke spotted that the battery temperature warning flag for Battery 2 had popped up on top of the rover's Control and Display Console. This would occur any time the battery temperature exceeded 125 degrees F. He looked at the battery temperature gauge and reported 135 degrees and Houston instructed them to configure power to be drawn from Battery 1 before driving off. After stowing their samples and tools, they buckled themselves in. Bypassing Station 12, they drove on to Station 13. On this traverse, the rover once again proved its mettle.

"Look at that slope!'' Duke enthused. "Be sure that you got the brakes on. Tony, this is at least a 15-degree slope we're going down, and that rover came right up it and you never even knew it. Brake that beauty, John. Man, are we

Among the lunar samples the LRV helped John Young and Charlie Duke to collect was this troctollite, an igneous rock composed of olivine and plagioclast. (NASA)

accelerating. Super. I should have had the camera pointed forward. Okay, Tony, I think it was 179 at 4.4, that little steep slope there. Whoever said this was the Cayley Plain?''

''Well, that was down the rim of the crater here,'' Young explained to England. ''We've just set a new world's speed record, Houston; seventeen kilometers an hour on the Moon.''

After driving for eight minutes, Duke and Young arrived at their designated Station 13 stop. The missing rear fender extension resulted in excessive lunar soil being deposited on both the LRV and the astronauts themselves. England informed them that the LCRU was heating up and Duke remarked that the rover needed serious dusting. Young aligned the antenna while Duke took a complete photographic pan of that station stop. There were numerous intriguing boulders at this stop, and one in particular they named Shadow Rock for its pronounced overhang. They once again took samples of the soil, rake samples, broke off several pieces from Shadow Rock, and took soil from the shadowed portion of the boulder. They spent a half-hour at this station, then had to head back to the LM and a final station stop near Station 10, identified by England as Station 10 Prime, roughly 50 m northwest of Station 10.

As they approached the small End Crater northwest of Palmetto, Young drove the rover in a tight circle for Duke to take a 360-degree photographic pan. They proceeded to the ALSEP site and then parked the rover. Duke gave England the rover's Control Display Console readings. A rake sample was first taken by Duke, followed by a double core sample. They finished taking their last samples prior to closing out EVA-3 and Young then drove the rover 100 m east of Orion and parked it for observation of the LM liftoff.

''Okay, Houston. I'm parked on a slope of about 10 degrees - or 5 or 6 or 7 degrees [down-slope] toward the Lunar Module, and it's my guess that this will help your cooling some, because it [the LCRU radiator] is looking towards deep space a little. I'm about 100 yards [90 meters] directly aft of the Lunar Module. Is that where you want this contraption to be?''

''Okay. It's heading 165,'' England reported. As it turned out, Young had actually parked the rover about twenty meters short of the proper location necessary to permit Ed Fendell to elevate the TV camera in sequence with the rise of the ascent stage of Orion during liftoff. This would not become evident until the actual event. The closeout decal on the rover remained obscured by dust even after brushing, so Young asked England to read it off to him. Young performed the necessary tasks to prepare the rover at its final resting place and England asked that the front end of the LRV be dusted. Duke joined Young at the rover to brush off the dust-covered LCRU, the battery covers and the TV lens when he was able, and the LRV radiator dust covers were opened for the last time. Young and Duke had less than an hour left on the lunar surface and worked quickly to complete their necessary tasks and make sure all their samples and film canisters were aboard the spacecraft. There were no momentous words as first Duke then Young climbed Orion's ladder, crawled inside and initiated cabin re-pressurization. England reported that they had conducted a 5 hour 40 minute EVA, with a hearty congratulations from the science Backroom. The astronauts had collected 96 kg of rock and soil samples, England informed them, which was over their limit for liftoff, so Houston was deciding whether some of that weight would have to be ditched. Duke quickly informed Houston that they had thrown out the Constant Wear Garments, the sleep restraints and anything else that could be left on the lunar surface that did not have to go with them that morning. This seemed to convince Houston that they could keep all the samples they had, including ''Big Muley.'' Jim Irwin took over as CapCom. Apollo 16 was about to leave its lunar base.

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