86194 APOLLO PROGRAM LUNAR SURFACE EXPERIMENT PACKAGE (ALSEP) PASSIVE LUNAR SEISMIC EXPERIMENT

Made prior to the Apollo 11 Moon landing, this issue of the Apollo Digest entitled “Examining the Moon” shows the components of the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Package (ALSEP) being deployed by a technician wearing an Apollo spacesuit in a simulated lunar environment. He carries them on a “barbell” that weighs about 30 pounds on the Moon but 200 on Earth. The Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP) comprised a set of scientific instruments placed by the astronauts at the landing site of each of the five Apollo missions to land on the Moon following Apollo 11 (Apollos 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17). Apollo 11 left a smaller package called the Early Apollo Scientific Experiments Package, or EASEP.

At 2:49 a nuclear generator containing Plutonium 238 is shown, which can provide electricity to power the experiments. Plutonium 238 only emits Alpha Rays so it presents no threat to the astronauts.

The instrumentation and experiments that would comprise ALSEP were decided in February 1966. Specifically, the experiments, institutions responsible, and principal investigators and coinvestigators were:

Passive Lunar Seismic Experiment: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Frank Press; Columbia University, George Sutton; Georgia Tech, Robert Hostetler. This is shown at 3:34.

Lunar Tri-axis Magnetometer: Ames Research Center, C. P. Sonett; Marshall Space Flight Center, Jerry Modisette. This is shown at 4:47.

Medium-Energy Solar Wind: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, C. W. Snyder and M. M. Neugebauer. This is shown at 3:59.

Suprathermal Ion Detection: Rice University, J. W. Freeman, Jr.; Marshall Space Flight Center, Curt Michel. This is shown at 4:45.

Lunar Heat Flow Management: Columbia University, M. Langseth; Yale University, S. Clark.

Low-Energy Solar Wind: Rice University, B. J. O’Brien.

Active Lunar Seismic Experiment: Stanford University, R. L. Kovach; United States Geological Survey, J. S. Watkins.

At 4:30 the Central Data Station is shown being deployed.

The ALSEP was built and tested by Bendix Aerospace in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The instruments were designed to run autonomously after the astronauts left and to make long-term studies of the lunar environment. They were arrayed around a Central Station which supplied power generated by a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) to run the instruments and communications so data collected by the experiments could be relayed to Earth. Thermal control was achieved by passive elements (insulation, reflectors, thermal coatings) as well as power dissipation resistors and heaters. Data collected from the instruments were converted into a telemetry format and transmitted to Earth.

The ALSEP was stored in the Lunar Module’s Scientific Equipment (SEQ) Bay in two separate subpackages. The base of the first subpackage formed the Central Station while the base of the second subpackage was part of the RTG. A subpallet was also attached to the second subpackage which usually carried one or two of the experiments and the antenna gimbal assembly. On Apollo 12, 13, and 14, the second subpackage also stored the Lunar Hand Tool Carrier (HTC). The exact deployment of experiments differed by mission. The following pictures show a typical procedure from Apollo 12.

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