Bill Muehlberger and the Apollo Field Geology Investigation Team in the Backroom had been looking forward to the Station 1 stop, southeast of Emory Crater as originally planned. The valley at Taurus-Littrow was heavily cratered, and Emory was one of the larger craters, measuring 650 m in diameter. This had to be eliminated as a station stop, however, and the two astronauts would stop near Steno Crater instead, which was just as big. Cernan shut down the TV camera, aligned the navigation system, and the two astronauts set off on their first traverse on the rover. This would be the shortest traverse of their three EVAs. As with the two previous Apollo missions, when the astronauts were driving the rover, communications were transmitted from the astronauts' PLSS through the Low-Gain Antenna mounted on the LRV to the LM and then from the LM to Earth. The reverse path was followed during communications from Earth to the Moon. After traveling some distance from the ALSEP site and about 150 m from the LM, the crew deployed the transmitter for the Surface Electrical Properties (SEP) experiment. This had been conceived by Gene Simmons of MIT and an experiment team, in conjunction with Marshall Space Flight Center, to measure the dielectric properties of the lunar surface and subsurface. Cernan and Schmitt would return to the SEP site later to lay out the dipole antenna grid which would transmit the data being collected. The receiver and recorder for this data was kept on the LRV and would be returned to Earth at the end of the lunar mission.
Since they were running behind in their EVA timeline, they made a stop about 150 m from Steno Crater to place the first seismic charge. They would take their samples from a small crater with a considerable amount of blocks and small boulders at that location. Cernan read off the rover's coordinates, temperature and remaining amp/ hours on the batteries, and the motor temperatures. When he got off the rover he found the taped fender still in place.
"Okay, the fenders are still on, thank goodness,'' Cernan exclaimed after he got off the rover.
"Beautiful. We'll give you the Taper of the Year award,'' Parker replied.
"Bob, you're going to want a core at this site?'' Schmitt asked Parker.
"Roger. Number 1 priority will be some block samples, including any dirt that was on the blocks, if there is such. And then the second priority is a rake soil sample; the third priority is a double core. Then, also in there, the pans, of course, and other
documented samples. But the double core is there, although it is third priority,'' was the detailed response from Houston. This would be a thirty-minute stop as they took rock, soil and rake samples, chipped small rocks from the small boulder, and took photographs, but Houston then advised them that the core samples were deleted. Cernan had aligned the High-Gain Antenna and turned on the TV camera. While they were there, they described their observations for the benefit of the scientists in the Backroom. They placed their samples in the bags and then the sample collection boxes. All too soon, they had to stow their tools, get aboard the rover and head back to the LM. Along the way, Schmitt gave detailed descriptions of their lunar surroundings.
"Okay, Houston. There's the classic raindrop pattern over this fine debris. I'd say that the surface definitely is sorted: the fine regolithic material forming one fraction and then the blocks another. Those blocks greater than 2 cm in diameter, in general, make up (that is, cover) less than ten per cent of the surface, but there are some big ones, fairly uniformly distributed. There are blocks a meter in diameter.'' Cernan had to concentrate on driving the rover and avoiding blocks and craters, but Schmitt had the opportunity to take pictures with his Hasselblad from the rover.
"It responded as you might expect in /6 gravity,'' Cernan said of the LRV. "You hit a bump, you hit a crater, [and] you're going to go up on three wheels half the time. We had a limited horizontal velocity of about twelve to fourteen kilometers per hour. It handled very well. I didn't have any problems with it.''
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