Towards the South Massif

Their destination for EVA-2 was the South Massif and their goal was to sample the light mantle that was so distinctive of the massifs in the valley. Cernan referred to the navigation page of his Cuff Check List, resorting to range and bearing instead of heading. They passed Camelot Crater on their right, one of the largest craters in the valley, and the one clearly seen by the astronauts during their descent to the lunar surface. They stopped the rover briefly for Schmitt to place another Seismic Profiling Experiment explosive package before continuing on what would be the longest traverse of their mission. As they traveled, they were able to identify craters with apparent ease.

"We can definitely see the light mantle as it comes out over the valley here, and we're looking at Hole -in-the-Wall, although it's still too subtle,'' Cernan reported. "We're looking right at Lara, as a matter of fact.''

"Yeah. There's Lara, very clear; and Hole-in-the-Wall, you can see it,'' Schmitt agreed.

"There's Horatio way over there where those blocks are. See it?'' Cernan asked his Lunar Module Pilot.

"Yeah, that's Horatio. We're right on course, sir. There's a little depression we didn't talk about, though, that's between Horatio and Camelot. But it's a depression and not a blocky crater at all. As a matter of fact, the total block population has changed. Once we get away from the rim of Camelot, the block frequency is quite a bit smaller. It's down, maybe to less than one per cent of the surface.''

"Much easier driving with the rover,'' Cernan noted, with very few blocks to deal with. "Boy, am I glad we got that fender on. Very obvious that the rover navigation [was easier] because of the [scarcity of] blocks and because of the smaller craters, and very subtle type craters in this area.''

They drove toward the South Massif and Nansen Crater, parallel to the LeeLincoln Scarp they would soon climb in the rover. The scarp was a plateau that ran between the North and South Massif. Schmitt had an opportunity to use the LRV Sampler, a new sampling tool, for the first time on this traverse. This tool permitted Schmitt to take soil and small rock samples from the lunar surface without leaving his seat on the LRV. The sampler held a stack of cups, which were sealed with a lid. Cernan made several brief stops so that Schmitt could collect samples from intriguing areas on their way to Nansen (named for a Norwegian polar explorer). Cernan was driving the LRV at an average 10 kph, thanks to a favorable Sun angle and the scarcity of blocks, but he still had to watch for small craters to avoid. Like Dave Scott

Harrison Schmitt rounds one of the large boulders at Station 6 with the LRV in the foreground. The LRV helped the astronauts reach challenging locations such as this, which would have been unreachable on foot. (NASA)

and John Young before him, Cernan realized that he could not take his eyes off the terrain ahead of them for an instant or they would quickly find themselves in a crater. Cernan reached the base of the scarp and they began their climb.

"I don't even think the rover knows it's going uphill,'' Cernan told Houston. "I've got about 3.7 or 3.8 amps,'' he reported. "See what's on top here.'' Cernan was impressed with the rover's hill climbing ability. For the benefit of the science Backroom, Schmitt continued his observations.

"Okay. Whatever makes up the light mantle - at least, the instant rock that it forms - is much lighter than anything we see [elsewhere]. Those fragments probably are thirty per cent lighter than any fragments we see out on the dark mantle. And that's around the fresh craters. But it is not blocky.''

As Cernan made for the top of the scarp, he had to drive the rover in a zigzag pattern, both to avoid craters but also to ease traversing the steeper portions of the scarp. They were now driving over the light mantle and Schmitt made his observations. Cernan then pointed the rover directly uphill and continued doing eight to nine kilometers per hour. The rover soon slowed, however, and Cernan had to go back to driving cross-slope. From their position, they could see boulder tracks running down the Massif.

"Let me tell you, this is quite a rover ride,'' Cernan told Houston as they approached the northern side of Nansen Crater.

"It sure sounds like it,'' Parker agreed.

"But it's quite a machine, I tell you! I think it would do a lot more than we let it,'' Cernan added. Schmitt had been taking photographs during the entire traverse. When these photographs were examined back on Earth, they revealed how steep the scarp was that they had been climbing in the LRV. They had been driving for over an hour at this point, were beyond visually sighting the Lunar Module and were approaching the limit of their walk-back constraints. Cernan then turned the rover toward the northeast to ease alignment of the High-Gain Antenna once he stopped for Station 2. When he stopped the rover, he gave Houston the battery and motor readings and was asked to check the fender repair. It was still securely clamped. Cernan aligned the High-Gain Antenna and dusted the TV camera lens and soon Houston had a picture. Fendell panned the camera across an impressive site, with the face of the South Massif rising majestically behind the astronauts. They were surrounded by blocks and boulders and it was clear that this would be a particularly rich sample site. Cernan and Schmitt took soil, rake and chip samples from the nearby boulders, with Cernan describing the area for the scientists and geologists in the Backroom.

"When you look down into the bottom of Nansen, it looks like some of the debris that has rolled off the South Massif covers up the original material there that covers the north wall of Nansen. There is a distinct difference. You've got that very wrinkled texture in the north slopes of Nansen, and you've got the South Massif debris in the south slopes of Nansen. And the debris, of course, overlays the north slope. And all the rock fragments, all the boulders that have come down, are all on the south side of the slope of Nansen.''

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