The largest rock sample ever collected

They completed their Station 1 stop at Plum and their sample collection included the largest rock sample ever collected on any Apollo lunar mission. At the urging of CapCom Tony England, Duke was asked to pick up a rock so big that Duke was incredulous. He knew England was being urged by Bill Muehlberger to collect the rock, which was right on the lip of Plum with its steeply sloped walls. With the stiff suit, Duke had difficulty bending down to pick up the 11.7 kg brute, resorting to trying to roll it up his leg, only to drop it again. Duke let his feelings be known to Mission Control.

"If I fall into Plum Crater getting this rock, Muehlberger has had it,'' Duke fumed.

"We agree,'' England admitted.

The decision to collect that sample was not Muehlberger's alone, but was a consensus of the geologists in the science Backroom. There were more than two dozen scientists actively involved in lunar surface exploration activities as the EVAs were being conducted. It was an impressive array of individuals who formed a scientific and geologic brains trust, participating in the greatest feat of exploration ever conducted. Jim Lovell was the science coordinator who kept the needs and interests of the astronauts on the lunar surface foremost in mind. Muehlberger had Gordon Swann and Dale Jackson working with him while Young and Duke relayed to Houston what they saw and what they were doing and, conversely, what Muehlberger and his team wanted the astronauts to investigate. This is where the LRV's TV camera and audio feed were so vital in conducting the science on the Moon. Robert Sutton would write down on index cards the information on each rock that was being described and kept them cataloged according to type. Tim Hait operated an overhead projector with transparencies that he feverishly wrote on with the information the astronauts were describing, which was projected on the wall so that others could see and refer to it later. Lee Silver sat nearby, taking it all in and seeing how well the astronauts conveyed their observations. Scattered around the room were the other key participants, all of whom had a stake in this extraordinary moment in time. In another room down the hall from the science Backroom, there was a team carefully photo-documenting what was being beamed to Earth.

"As soon as the crew stopped and got off at some point, and adjusted the TV antenna so the TV would work,'' Muehlberger said, "Ed Fendell in Mission Control would do a 360-degree pan with the TV camera on the rover. We had a crew who were taking Polaroid pictures of that and they were sticking them together right there to make a panorama. The geologists on that team would circle features that we wanted to look at when there was time. The panorama was brought up with interesting objects circled within minutes of when the TV camera had relayed the scene to Earth. Then, when the astronauts were doing something that didn't need the

Station 4 from a different angle in this photo taken by Duke. Both astronauts were amazed at the LRV's hill-climbing capability. Caley Plain below was far from being flat. (NASA)

TV camera on them, I would relay up to Ed to pan or zoom up on a particular rock, for example. Then, the geologists would bring up the photos with whatever had caught their eye. Those were brought up and set in front of me within minutes of taking them. I had plenty of time then to look at them, to comment and to send them instructions, via the CapCom, that they might want to add to the information they had on their Cuff Check List.''

This was exactly what happened when the geologists spotted the large rock they wanted Duke to pick up. They thought, with its large crystals of plagioclase, that it was a white-clast breccia with a gray matrix. It was a sample they definitely wanted to examine on Earth. Duke finally succeeding in getting it up to his waist, and after examining it, admitted it had beautiful crystals. This sample would later be nicknamed "Big Muley.'' Duke stored it under his seat on the LRV.

Then they climbed aboard the rover, buckled up and set off for their Station 2 stop. Young turned the rover around and headed for Spook Crater and nearby Buster Crater. After they stopped, Young did some LRV housekeeping by dusting off the LCRU and the TV camera lens, and then realigned the High-Gain Antenna.

England asked Young to proceed with setting up the Lunar Personal Magnetometer (LPM), while Duke took photographs of Stone Mountain and South Ray Crater with the 500 mm lens. Duke then went over to Buster Crater, and commented that it had a pronounced slope up to the rim, with interior walls that dropped off steeply. He took rock and soil samples at Buster. Their tasks at Station 2 completed, Young and Duke then drove back to Orion. Young relied on the LRV navigation system going back, as he had driving out, and it was already proving itself indispensable in the harsh lunar Sun-lit conditions. Both astronauts were pleased with the rover's performance.

''Man, this is a fun ride,'' Duke remarked to Houston. ''Okay, Tony, we're doing ten clicks.''

''Outstanding,'' England responded

''Occasionally, the back end breaks loose, but there's no problem,'' reported Duke. ''This is really some machine.''

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Digital Camera and Digital Photography

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