Apollo 16 50 years later: Remarkable images show historic mission

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Stunning images show the historic apollo 16 mission 50 years after its launch to the moon.

The pictures, created by “Apollo Remastered” author Andy Saunders, show POT Lunar Module “Orion” Pilot charles duke taking in the view across the hilly Descartes Highlands, the Command and Service Module “Casper” above the lunar horizon, Commander John Young’s “giant leap,” the lunar rover and a photo of Duke and his family on the moon’s surface.

Saunders, who have you previously shared remastered images Apollo 15 moon landingregularly posts new images on Twitter and Instagram.


The second of the three “J-missions,” apollo 16’s primary objectives were to inspect, survey and sample materials and surface features at the highlands region of the moon’s southeast quadrant, to position and activate surface experiments and to conduct in-flight experiments and photographic tasks from lunar orbit.

The astronauts lifted off aboard the Saturn-V SA-511 rocket at 12:54 p.m. EST on April 16, 1972, from Launch Complex 39 at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The Lunar Module carrying Young and Duke touched down at Descartes – albeit nearly six hours late – at 9:24 pm EST on April 20, about 276 meters northwest of the planned point.

There were two significant Command Module problems, including one en route to the moon and one in lunar orbit, that contributed to the delay in landing and the subsequent early termination of the mission by one day.

An erroneous signal indicating guidance system gimbal lock during the translunar coast phase was neutralized by real-time programming and backup circuit caused yaw oscillations of service propulsion system, leading to a delay to the circularization burn of the Command Module.

Lunar Module landing was held until engineers determined the oscillations would not seriously impact Command Module steering.

During the more than 71 hours and two minutes of surface stay, astronauts explored the region on three extravehicular activities (EVA), which totaled 20 hours and 14 minutes.

The first EVA included Lunar Roving Vehicle setup and Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP) deployment, and the Heat flow experiment was lost when Young tripped on and broke the electronics cable.

The astronauts collected samples and photographed Flag Crater, took the first measurement with the lunar portable magnetometer at Spook Crater and deployed the solar wind composition experiment at the ALSEP site.


They collected samples of the core, surface and trench in the area of ​​Cinco Craters during the second EVA, and lunar portable magnetometer measurements were taken near Cinco.

A time constraint in meeting the ascent schedule cut the third EVA short, during which the crater rim of “House Rock” and “Shadow Rock” were sampled and lunar portable magnetometer Measurement readings were taken there and at the rover parking site, along with final samples. Finally, they retrieved the solar wind composition and film from far ultraviolet camera/spectroscope.

Command Module Pilot Thomas K. “Ken” Mattingly orbited the moon with cameras and the Scientific Instrument Module (SIM) bay instruments that were operational during Young and Duke’s surface stay and verified Apollo 15 data and information on lunar terrain.

At the conclusion, Young and Duke had collected 209 pounds of samples and driven the rover 16.6 miles.

Lunar liftoff occurred on April 23 at 8:26 pm EST.

The lunar module was jettisoned after normal rendezvous and docking and altitude was lost eliminating the usual deorbit maneuver and planned impact.

Planners elected to return the mission a day early and – after Mattingly’s 83-minute spacewalk to film cassettes from the SIM bay – they splashed down in the pacific ocean just before 3 pm EST on April 27.

The total mission time was 265 hours and 51 minutes, or just over 11 days.

Notably, the Particles and Fields subsatellite was launched on April 24 at 4:56 pm EST to investigate the moon’s mass and gravitational variations, particle composition of space near the moon and interaction of the moon’s magnetic field with that of Earth.

Saunders noted that when Mattingly noticed a problem with the main engine on the Command Module, the three astronauts had to visually station-keep in lunar orbit for the four hours it took for Mission Control to assess the issue.

Saunders said that an image taken by Duke – showing the Command Module above the lunar surface as the blue Earth rises – conveys the enormity of their achievements.


Duke, who left a portrait of his family on the lunar surface after the third EVA told him that it was an emotional moment.

While the photograph had likely quickly faded and curled up, Saunders is sending a copy of the photograph in a small capsule back to the moon this year on the unscrewed Astrobotic Peregrine lander.

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