The Apollo Missions Science Packages – Astronomy talk

The Apollo Missions Science Packages

25th November 2014

This talk was given by the Keith Wright, who was an engineer working on all the science packages that were included in the Apollo missions.
Keith started by reviewing his career, stating with making model rockets at school, and on through working on “Blue Streak” to Apollo in 1966. He then joined ESA in 1972.
We looked at the various packages that were attacked to the lunar lander, starting with Apollo 11 which had laser ranging reflector, a passive seismometer and a dust analyser. After that we looked at the instruments that were additional to what was brought by earlier landings, though many of the experiments were repeated.
Apollo 12 had a magnetometer, a solar wind detector, an ion detector and an atmospheric pressure meter. All these were connected to a central station. As Keith discussed each bit of equipment, he also told stories about training the astronauts, problems, etc., e.g. tripping over cables on the Moon.
Apollo 14 had an active seismometer with a small mortar and astronaut operated thumper, and a charged particle detector. Apollo 15 included a heat flow detector, but it proved very difficult to drill into the surface to install it, so only one of the two sensors was installed. Apollo 16 had no new items, and Apollo 17 had a gravimeter and an atmospheric composition spectrometer.
Keith concluded by telling us how much our understanding of the Moon has been added to by the information these experiments gave us. For example, the internal structure of the moon is now known to be very different from what we thought it was before all the seismology experiments.
An excellent talk on a subject which the audience found most interesting.