Van Serg Crater

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Their next destination on the rover was the small crater identified as Van Serg. Measuring 90 m in diameter, it was far smaller than Henry, Shakespeare and Cochise craters near the North Massif. Those craters measured hundreds of meters in diameter. Van Serg appeared to be sharply defined from orbital photographs and Cernan and Schmitt were to sample its dark mantle and sub-floor material. They drove around the southeast, subdued rim of Cochise Crater and soon spotted Van Serg. They had been traveling at 10 kph or more, and the rover's wheels were taking a pounding over the blocky terrain. Cernan could not take his eyes away from front and center for even a couple of seconds, concerned as he was about hitting a football-sized rock that would jar them and the rover. He was constantly moving the hand controller left and right to avoid the larger rocks and the nearly indistinguishable small craters in front of them. At one point, the rover scraped over

Command Module Pilot Ron Evans photographed Cernan and Schmitt on their return home to Earth from their successful exploration of Taurus-Littrow. They were the last men to explore the Moon in twentieth century. (NASA)

one of the larger rocks passing underneath. They reported seeing dust coming over them and they suspected that the fender repair might have failed, but when Cernan stopped the rover near Van Serg and got off, he noticed that the rear edge of the taped maps had curled under as a result of the Sun warping their clear plastic coating. Cernan reported battery temperatures of 122 degrees and off-scale low, with forward drive motors at 210 and 240 degrees and rear drive motors at 225 and 220. The High-Gain Antenna was aligned once again and the TV camera turned on.

Schmitt got off the rover and walked over to the edge of Van Serg, describing the interior of the crater as being covered with dark, friable polymict breccias, created during the impact that formed the crater. He believed he would discover basalt blocks, but closer inspection revealed them to be breccias. He also thought there would be evidence of volcanism but none of the samples he looked at displayed this characteristic. They took their requisite rock and soil samples and photographs and, while doing a radial sample away from the rim of Van Serg, Schmitt discovered white soil several centimeters below the surface. Like all the small lunar samples, this was carefully bagged and identified by number. Houston at first wanted them to complete their tasks and return to the LM but then decided, at the request of the science Backroom, to take a core tube sample. Cernan assembled the core tube and then drove it into the lunar surface with his hammer. After driving it to the necessary depth, he extracted it, separated the tube sections and capped them. They then changed film magazines and removed the data recorder from the non-functioning

Surface Experiments Package receiver, which had failed from overheating. One of the final tasks was to deploy another seismic charge, and by this time Cernan and Schmitt had spent nearly an hour at Station 9.

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