4.8.0 - Apollo 16 Introduction

Apollo 16 saw another lunar rover head for the moon, this time in an exploration of the lunar highlands. It again involved several EVAs and the use of a CSM SIM bay to record experimental data in orbit while the LM carried its duties on the surface. UV photography was again employed to take images of Earth on the way to the Moon, and also from the lunar surface.

Even before this mission had begun, news reports were full of the next phase of NASA's space programme: the shuttle, and discussions on what to do with redundant launch towers were already under way. The economic cost of Apollo was freely discussed in these news programmes, and the perceived benefits of LEO satellite programmes became much more prominent in the discussions compared with the less immediately useful scientific data.

The flight was intended to launch in March, but technical problems with an explosive separation bolt between the LM and CSM forced a delay. The crew finally lifted off on April 16th 1972 and entered lunar orbit on the 19th. Landing did not occur until the 21st after more technical problems with the CSM engines caused a day's delay. After eventually landing and carrying out 3 EVAs, the surface crew were re-united with the orbiting CSM on the 24th. TEI occurred the next day, and the astronauts finally splashed down on the 27th. On the way back a televised EVA was carried out to retrieve data from the SIM bay, and an unmanned TV broadcast was also made from the lunar surface.

The mission timeline can be found here: NASA source.

As far as mission photographs go, the AIA records that the Hasselblads took 22 magazines if film, with a total of 2808 photographs exposed. An additional magazine comprises the far right UV spectrum long exposure images taken from the surface.

A mixture of sources will be used, choosing the best resolution image available

In terms of availability of satellite images, only ESSA 9 photographs have a full catalogue online, available here. ATS-3 images were still being transmitted, and one can be found here in the MWL for April 18th. An ESSA 8 image for launch day can be found here, in an interesting article about the ARIA (Apollo Range Instrumented Aircraft) that collected meteorological data in support of Apollo missions. ARIA is mentioned several times in the early part of the mission in Earth orbit (see the Mission Transcript here), acting as a relay between receiving stations on the ground.

The ESSA image in the article was taken on launch day, but unfortunately the area of the south Pacific shown is not covered by any of the photographs from that day. Understandably, the crew will have been a little busy at TEI and would not have had the time to photograph it.

We also have this pair of contemporary ESSA images (figure published by the UK’s The Guardian, published on this site (and reproduced with the kind permission of the owner). Hopefully they’ll be of use, but they are again an indication of how freely available these images were. The Guardian obtained their photographs from Ambassador College, an offshoot of an American religious University that set up in the UK, not from ESSA or NASA.

It’s not ideal, given how much of the image is covered by breakfast paraphernalia, but it would seem to be a reasonable guess.

Now for the main meal. Click the links below or at the top of this page to see the analyses.

CATM Home OBM Home
Intro Day 1 - 16/04/72 Day 2 - 17/04/72 Day 3 - 18/04/72 Day 4 - 19/04/72 Day 5 - 20/04/72 Day 6 - 21/04/72 Day 7 - 22/04/72 Day 9 - 24/04/72 Day 10 - 25/04/72 Day 12 - 27/04/72 Synoptic
CATM Home OBM Home

Figure ESSA satellite images printed in The Guardian, with comparisons to pdf versions of the compiled weather data. Source.

Intro Day 1 - 16/04/72 Day 2 - 17/04/72 Day 3 - 18/04/72 Day 4 - 19/04/72 Day 5 - 20/04/72 Day 6 - 21/04/72 Day 7 - 22/04/72 Day 9 - 24/04/72 Day 10 - 25/04/72 Day 12 - 27/04/72 Synoptic

As with other missions, the pre-launch breakfast features a satellite image on the table as the crew are briefed before suiting up. Figure shows a photograph of the breakfast scene.

Figure Pre-launch breakfast and close-up of the satellite photo. Source.

It’s difficult to be certain, but compared with other breakfast photos it appears that it is laid lengthways along the table, at right angles to the photographer. We also can be certain that it isn’t from the launch day itself, given the schedule for ESSA’s image collection. The odds are that it is from the previous day, April 15th.

Assuming they are, as usual, interested in the weather over launch, the best estimate for what the photo is showing is given in figure

Figure Estimate of satellite photo coverage from the breakfast photograph