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Back Down the Ridge to Station F Closeout and the Golf Shots


Geology Stations F and G

Corrected Transcript and Commentary Copyright © 1995-2017 by Eric M. Jones.
All rights reserved.
Scan credits in the Image Library.
Video credits in the Video Library.
Except where noted, MP3 audio clips by Thomas Schwagmeier and video clips by Ken Glover.
Last revised 5 November 2017.


[They are at Station F, near CQ.0/73.5 (0.6 Mb). See, also, the E-to-F traverse map.]
RealVideo Clip (11 min 30 sec)

MP3 Audio Clip (Glover) (2 min 34 sec)

MP3 Audio Clip (Schwagmeier) (40 min 24 sec)

[Note that, until Al and Ed get back to the LM, the TV picture shows an unchanging scene - except for very minor changes in shadow length as the Sun rises 0.5 degrees per hour.]
134:06:41 Shepard: Okay, I'll get the pan. I think crater itself, Ed, is right in here, isn't it?

134:06:46 Mitchell: Where are you?

134:06:47 Shepard: Behind you, to your left. Probably right in there.

134:06:54 Mitchell: No, I didn't think so; I think this is it right here.

134:06:58 Shepard: It looks too small, I believe. Well, anyway, we're in the area, Houston.

134:07:03 Mitchell: We've got a minute to find it.

134:07:10 Haise: Okay, Al, I think...

134:07:12 Mitchell: (Garbled under Haise)

134:07:12 Haise: ...the pan will fill us in as to the exact position, there.

134:07:18 Shepard: Okay, pan's underway now. (Long Pause)

[Mitchell - "You know, it is so obvious that, with the number of craters and the variations of patterns, anything we looked at there was an alternative that the other one of us could find and it looked damn near the same way. It indicates how many craters and variations there were, and you could just about see any darn thing you wanted to see."]

[Jones - "And I'm hearing in the voices, anyway, a suggestion of 'Aw, we're not going to find the right place. Some place in here, just grab it'."]

Al's Station F Pan ( frames AS14-64- 9137 to 9157 )

134:07:48 Shepard: Okay, pan's complete.

134:07:51 Haise: Roger, Al.

134:07:53 Shepard: Did you get a grab sample, Ed?

134:07:56 Mitchell: I'll grab some right up here, Al.

134:07:59 Shepard: Okay. (Long Pause)

134:08:32 Haise: And I guess this is going in bag 16. Is that right, Ed?

134:08:40 Mitchell: This is in bag 17, Fred. Sixteen got used some time back.

134:08:46 Haise: Okay.

134:08:50 Shepard: Okay; let's press on.

134:08:52 Mitchell: Okay. This darn rig, it's hard to fold up.

[Mitchell - "Although I haven't mentioned it throughout here, I'm still having trouble with my dexterity because of that right glove. So, even the task of holding the samples - doing anything that requires right hand movement - is a little difficult. So I'm fumbling around here with that right glove. That's part of the problem."]

[Jones - "And 'this darn rig' is one of the sample bags."]

134:08:55 Shepard: We've got a pan and a grab sample. What else do we want from here, Houston?

134:08:58 Haise: Okay, that's it, Al. We would like to proceed on to the North Triplet, and I'll give you the tasks when we get there.

134:09:15 Shepard: Okay, we'll try to get to North Triplet.

[The two-minute traverse to Station G is shown in the F-to-G traverse map.]
134:09:18 Mitchell: You ran out from under me just as I was picking it up.

134:09:20 Shepard: Sorry. (Pause)

134:09:28 Mitchell: Okay. (Pause)

134:09:36 Shepard: Okay. Oh, man. (Long Pause)

134:10:04 Haise: Okay, Al and Ed...

134:10:08 Mitchell: There's some blocks over there (garbled)

134:10:09 Haise: ...for your stop for the G, we'd like that...take an estimated one-crater diameter short of the crater - North (Triplet) Crater.

134:10:24 Mitchell: You want us to stop one-crater diameter short.

134:10:26 Haise: That's affirm; because some of the items coming up are the core and the trench...triple core.

134:10:34 Mitchell: Okay. (Pause) I think we're seeing the rim of the Triplet series right ahead of us, aren't we, Al?

134:10:50 Shepard: I would say so, yes. We can say that's the rim of the North right there.

134:10:53 Mitchell: Yes. It's got boulders on it, and that's the only thing big enough to have boulders. We're probably about one diameter out right now.

134:11:02 Shepard: I'd say we are. Right here.

[They have reached Station G. Post-mission analysis puts them at about CP.6/70.7 (0.6 Mb). See, also, the F-to-G traverse map. They are only about half a diameter from the near rim. One method for estimating distance would be to estimate the angle that the crater subtends. At a distance of 1.5 diameters from the center of the crater - and, therefore, one diameter from the rim - the crater will cover 40 degrees of azimuth. At 2.5 diameters from the center, the crater subtends 23 degrees.]

[Details of the site activities are shown in the shaded relief map.]

134:11:07 Mitchell: The way we've been estimating distances today, that rim has to be at least 6 miles from here.
[Charles Darwin, Voyage of the Beagle, p 347, discussing his experiences traveling in the Andes east of Santiago, Chile, in March 1835. - "Travelers having observed the difficulty of judging heights and distances amidst lofty mountains, have generally attributed it to the absence of objects of comparison. It appears to me, that it is fully as much owing to the transparency of the air confounding objects at different distances, and likewise partly to the novelty of an unusual degree of fatigue arising from a little exertion,—habit being thus opposed to the evidence of the senses. I am sure that this extreme clearness of the air gives a peculiar character to the landscape, all objects appearing to be brought nearly into one plane, as in a drawing or panorama. The transparency is, I presume, owing to the equable and high state of atmospheric dryness."]
134:11:12 Shepard: Okay, Houston; we're about 1 diameter to the east of North Triplets (sic).

134:11:18 Mitchell: To the west of...Yes, east of the Triplets. Excuse me.

134:11:21 Haise: Okay, copied, and...

134:11:23 Shepard: Okay.

134:11:24 Haise: ...the number 1 item is the triple core.

134:11:30 Shepard: Okay.

134:11:32 Mitchell: Where's the third core tube?

134:11:34 Shepard: Well, why don't you use clean ones?

[Jones - "What does Al mean by clean ones?"]

[Mitchell - "Remember, he's tried to make core samples in the past. One, I think, at (Station) A (at 132:18:16) and another one up at Cone (at 133:30:21). And, in both instances...Well, the ones at Cone, they all fell out, so those would be considered contaminated or dirty tubes. So he obviously put those in one bag and he had some clean ones over in another bag. Since that was his task, I didn't know where he had stowed those things."]

134:11:36 Mitchell: I don't have clean ones.

134:11:37 Shepard: Yeah, you do. They're down in this pocket right there with ...

134:11:40 Mitchell: This one?

134:11:41 Shepard: Let me get my camera tightened up.

[Apparently, Al's camera handle has loosened again.]
134:11:43 Mitchell: This one's been used.

134:11:44 Shepard: Nope, nope, nope. Right in here, Ed.

134:11:48 Mitchell: Oh, okay.

134:11:49 Shepard: ItÕs the three tabs (that is, the three core tubes marked with tabs) should be clean.

134:11:51 Mitchell: All right.

134:11:54 Shepard: Get my camera put together here. (Pause)

MP3 Audio Clip (31 min 54 sec)

134:12:06 Shepard: (Garbled; possibly something to do with the thumbscrew). (Long Pause)

134:12:26 Mitchell: Well, they're clear at the bottom of that, I think.

134:12:31 Shepard: Okay; I've got the camera back together. Okay, Fredo, for your info, the CDR's Commander's (means "CDRÕs camera is") reading 117.

134:12:39 Haise: Roger, Al, 117. (Long Pause)

134:12:52 Shepard: Okay, I'll get it.

134:12:57 Mitchell: Start with this one. We've only got two fresh ones in here. You've got four out that are used; or that look like they're used.

134:13:07 Shepard: The three tabbed ones, we haven't used yet. Let me get them, Ed. (Long Pause)

134:13:37 Mitchell: Okay. I'll take the tabbing off of this one.

134:13:43 Shepard: Yeah, I think that's the best way to go. Let's make them 1, 2, 3 for simplicity's sake.

134:13:52 Mitchell: I don't have a (garbled) from that one; where did it go?

134:13:56 Shepard: The bottom one will be number 1 tube with a tab, Fredo. (Garbled).

134:14:02 Haise: Roger.

134:14:06 Mitchell: Here's number 3.

134:14:08 Shepard: Okay. Hold on to that one. Got it? And the other one (possibly "middle one") will be number 2 with a tab. (Long Pause)

134:14:28 Mitchell: (Garbled).

134:14:33 Shepard: And the top one will be number 3 with a tab.

134:14:37 Haise: Roger, Al. And we're going to subtract off 15 minutes from that 30-minute extension due to PLSS oxygen.

134:14:51 Shepard: Okay.

134:14:54 Haise: So that gets us about...

134:14:57 Shepard: You're still planning on a trip (to the ALSEP)...

134:15:03 Haise: Okay. This gives us approximately...

134:15:05 Shepard: Go ahead.

134:15:06 Haise: ...25 minutes at stop G here.

134:15:13 Shepard: 25 minutes until what?

134:15:16 Mitchell: (Garbled). Okay, I got this one. Go ahead; start your trench, if you like. (Long Pause)

134:15:34 Shepard: Okay. (Long Pause) I'll dig the trench in the far wall of this crater here, Ed.

[Al takes a stereopair of "before" photos of the trench site, stepping to his left between frames. They are AS14-64- 9158 and 9159.]
134:15:54 Mitchell: Right. (Long Pause) Fredo, I've tried to push in the core tubes... (correcting himself) triple core tube. I get maybe, oh, 3 to 4 inches pushing in by hand. And it's just surface stuff; a very soft...It will not support the weight of the core tubes. (Pause) Now, I've got it balanced, and I can take a picture of it, perhaps.

134:17:16 Haise: Okay. We're reading you, Ed. (Long Pause)

[Ed's initial picture of the triple core is AS14-68- 9454. The location is marked by the open circle labeled '14220' on the shaded relief map.]
134:17:46 Mitchell: Okay. We'll try to drive it. (Long Pause)

134:18:00 Haise: And do I understand correctly, Ed, (that) you're taking care of the triple core on your own there?

RealVideo Clip (29 min 19 sec)

[Note that, until Al and Ed get back to the LM, the TV picture shows an unchanging scene - except for very minor changes in shadow length as the Sun rises 0.5 degrees per hour.]
134:18:09 Mitchell: That's affirm. Al's digging, busy with his trench.

134:18:16 Haise: Okay; very good. (Pause)

[NASA photo S70-34415 shows Al digging a trench during a geology field trip. Note that the large shovel was flown only on Apollo 14.]
134:18:25 Mitchell: I'll go over and help him photograph it in a while. And it's not going in easy, Fred.

134:18:39 Haise: Roger, Ed. (Long Pause)

134:19:14 Mitchell: I'll try driving a bit more, but I think I'm on solid rock; and I'm about one core tube down.

134:19:23 Haise: Roger, Ed. Solid rock, about one core tube down.

134:19:30 Mitchell: Yeah. (Pause)

134:19:38 Haise: Okay. The recommendation, Ed, is to pull it up and move over a bit and try it again.

134:19:50 Mitchell: The way this one feels, it'll be the same thing. (Pause)

134:20:04 Haise: Okay, Ed; and when you pull it out, they'd like to save the bottom core, and replace it with another one there before you try again.

134:20:19 Mitchell: Okay. (Long Pause)

[Their checklists contain several pages of detailed procedures to be followed when sampling, taking pictures, and trenching. The checklists on later missions did not have this level of detail.]
134:20:34 Haise: How's the trench going, Al? Are you getting down there?

134:20:40 Shepard: I've got a trench here. It's going fairly easily, but I need the extension handle (which Ed is using at the moment) to get it deeper so, we'll wait 'til Ed's through with that. I'm cutting into the rim of a crater which is approximately, oh, say 6 meters in diameter, has a depth of about three-quarters of a meter. And we're back in about one diameter away from the north member Triplet. The trench is going through at least three layers that I can see. The fine-grain surface, dark browns; then, a layer of what appears to be quite a bit of glass; and then, a third layer of some very light material. And, we should be able to sample all three of these.

[The extension handle can be attached to such things as core tubes and the trenching tool so that the astronauts don't have to bend over to do their work. The triple core tube is quite long, but Ed will still need the extension handle to be able to hammer the last section or two into the ground. Likewise, Al needs the handle to get his trench to full depth. Later crews will carry two extension handles.]

[Mitchell - "That's right, I had it. The extension handle was just a tool on the MET. And if you needed it, you got it."]

134:21:33 Haise: Roger, Al.

134:21:34 Mitchell: Core tube cap (he probably means "tip" or "bit") on that sample is in 18 N.

134:21:43 Haise: Roger, Ed. (Long Pause)

[Jones - "Do I have that right, here, that you put the bit from the bottom core tube in a bag? Is that Standard Operating Procedure, as you remember?"]

[Mitchell - "Now, you had to cap the top end, of course. Yeah, and we had a hardened bit on the bottom end of it. You'd take off that bit and you'd put a cap on it. I can't imagine why I'm saying the cap on that sample is in 18-N."]

[Jones - "My supposition is that you put the bit in the bag and mis-spoke."]

[Mitchell - "Why would I have put the bit in. I need the bit to put on the core tube."]

[Jones - "Would you have had several bits?"]

[Mitchell - "We may have had a couple or three. I'm sure we had more than one. You're right, that doesn't make a lot of sense. Let's remember what I'm doing here and let me try to picture it. I've got a stack of three core tubes and I've gone in about one core tube depth. So, what I'm going to do is take off the top two, according to their instructions. I'm going to cap the bottom one. Take off the bit from the bottom one. Presumably put the bit on another, fresh one. And save that core tube sample. Let me read on down here."]

[Jones - "Now, down here at 24:20, I just noticed that you do correct yourself. It was the tip that went in the bag."]

[Mitchell - "Yeah. (Reads transcript from there down) Okay. Maybe our procedure...Let's see, we couldn't leave the tip on (because) we had to put a cap on the end of it. And maybe, indeed, we did save the tip and put it in the bag, and we had enough tips..."]

[Jones - "Maybe the engineers wanted to look at the bit wear."]

[Mitchell - "So we must have had more tips than caps and just put a tip on the bottom of it."]

[In a 1972 technical paper published in the Journal of Geophysical Research - 'Soil Mechanical Properties at the Apollo 14 Site' - authors J.K. Mitchell et al write on page 5649: "In the first attempt for a single (actually a triple) core tube, the astronaut (Ed Mitchell) reported that he had struck rock and had been unable to penetrate deeper than one core tube. Examination of the stainless steel bit from the core tube confirmed this, because it was visibly dented and burred." Clearly, Ed put the bit from this core tube in a sample bag at some point. At 134:34:43, Ed says that, after "driving down to that rock, I couldn't get the core cap (means 'bit') off. I'll get some help from Al, soon as he puts his handful of samples down.", suggesting that he didn't actually bag the bit at 134:21:34.]

[The Flight Surgeon reports that Al's heart rate is about 100 beats per minute, and Ed's is about 110. Figure 10-5 in the Apollo 14 Mission Report shows the crew's heart rates during EVA-2.]

134:22:02 Shepard: And a very interesting looking rock with fairly fine-grain crystals in it. It's a grab sample, Houston, from that same crater in which I'm digging. It's too large for a bag; its dark brown...(its) dark part is fractured. The fracture face is very light gray with very small crystals.

134:22:28 Haise: Roger, Al; and if you can get any - with your samples down in the trench itself - that have any rock fragments, you might include those as part of your sample.

134:22:44 Shepard: Okay, Freddo.

134:22:45 Mitchell: Put it in that side bag if you can; these are all full back here.

[The USGS editors of sample 14310, a 3.4 kg piece of basalt.]
134:22:50 Shepard: Okay.

134:22:52 Mitchell: Let me help you. (Pause)

134:23:01 Shepard or Mitchell: Okay, baby.

134:23:03 Shepard: You about through with the extension handle, or are you going to...

134:23:06 Mitchell: Go ahead and take it. I don't really need it to drive (the first section or two).

134:23:12 Shepard: I'll go over and cut that baby (meaning 'dig the trench'), and we'll be through here. Thank you. (Long Pause)

134:23:40 Shepard: Okay, Houston; I know that we did not mention this white layer down in this area - before - that was so obvious to us just below the surface up near the flank of Cone. But it appears as though it is quite a bit...Well, it's relatively deep, as far as visual observation is concerned. And certainly not any would be kicked up by footprints, or tracks or the like. But there appears to be some of that here in this trench.

134:24:18 Haise: Roger, Al.

[Sizable, high velocity impacts create very light colored ejecta composed of highly fractured bits of rock, much as in a shattered car windshield. A light-colored ejecta blanket will, however, darken over time because of countless impacts by sand-grain-sized objects. These small impactors tend to create patches of glass that are relatively dark because of the iron and titanium they contain. Eventually, these small impacts return the surface layer to its normal color and, as rarer, larger impacts mix the darkened soil downward, only the deepest parts of the light-colored ejecta blanket survive. The depth at which it is found is a measure of the time since the original, high-velocity impact. At the Apollo 12 site, Conrad and Bean discovered light-colored soil just a few centimeters below the surface, perhaps representing ejecta from Copernicus Crater. At the Apollo 16 site, Young and Duke found light-colored ejecta from nearby South Ray Crater.]
134:24:20 Mitchell: Fredo, did you get my report that the core tube cap...(correcting himself) "tip" was in 18-N?

134:24:28 Haise: Roger, Ed. I got that; 18-N.

134:24:34 Mitchell: Okay, and I have taken the bottom core of that one, which was core 1 flagged; and it's now by itself as a single core tube. I'm going to replace that with number 1 unflagged, which is the one Al started to use earlier but didn't get anywhere with it.

134:25:00 Haise: Okay. Number 1, untagged, on the bottom.

134:25:15 Shepard: Damn. You know what's happening in this trench; is the surface fines are so loose that they're just falling down covering the layering that we want to get. (Pause) I'll tell you, we're not going to get a classic vertical wall here, Houston, on this trench. (Long Pause) Damn. (Long Pause)

[Trenches dug at the Apollo 12, 15, 16, and 17 sites maintained nearly vertical walls without difficulty. In each case, the vertical wall was dug facing the Sun so that photographs could be analyzed for such things as variation of reflectivity and roughness with depth.]

[Shepard, from the 1971 Technical Debrief - "It looked as if Ed and I should have changed positions, because it was not soft enough for him and it was too soft for me. We practiced digging the trench in the edge of the crater, because it was mechanically and physically easier to dig the trench on the side of the crater. (However), by the side of the crater the dust just wasn't cohesive enough to get a good sample of soil mechanics. We probably did get a pretty good idea of what the composition (means "cohesion") of the soil was, because it wouldn't hold more than a 60-degree angle on the side of the trench before it all started falling back down in. We did the best we could without (getting) a vertical wall. We were running out of time, again, and it was either do the best we could with that particular trench, or not do it at all."]

134:26:20 Haise: And, Ed. Are you having any better luck on the triple core this time?

134:26:27 Mitchell: I've got it in about half a tube. But I'm getting ready to take a picture of it so you can locate it; and then, we'll go ahead and drive it the rest of the way in.

134:26:36 Haise: Roger, Ed. (Long Pause)

134:27:00 Mitchell: Okay, Fredo. There's three frames here, probably 69, 70, 71 (on the frame counter), that have core tubes. The first one's the aborted one that I couldn't get in. The second picture is this new attempt, a 15-foot shot, then I raised up and took a "locator" shot on the horizon on this. I think it might go.

134:27:29 Haise: Very good, Ed. (Long Pause)

[Ed's two photos of the second triple core site are AS14-68- 9455 and 9456. The location is marked by a half-filled circle labelled '14230' on the shaded relief map.]
134:27:48 Mitchell: Okay, I'm getting down low enough (that) I'm going to have to have an extension handle to finish driving it, I think.
[Mitchell - "I didn't remember that I was able to get that much of a core tube sample."]

[As he tells Houston at 134:30:53, he actually only gets about 1 1/4 tubes in the ground.]

134:27:54 Shepard: Okay, I'll give it (the extension handle) back to you. I'm really kind of through with this trench.

134:28:00 Haise: Roger, Al.

134:28:05 Shepard: Here you are.

134:28:10 Mitchell: Thank You. (Long Pause)

[At some point, Al takes a series of "after" photos of the trench. These are AS14-64- 9160 to 9166.]

[Frame 9161 is the second image in a stereopair. Every other trench that the Apollo astronauts dug on the Moon held vertical walls. For some reason, this one would not, except near the left end.]

[Erik can Meijgaarden has created a red-blue anaglyph from 9161 and 63.

134:29:19 Shepard: Okay, Fred. Bag 19 for the sample of the surface fines. That is, from the surface layer of the trench.

134:29:32 Haise: Roger, Al. Bag 19 is a sample of the surface fines.

134:29:42 Shepard: I am unable to take from the walls of the trench the type of material - the glassy type of material that I could see when I was digging - so, I'll just get a shovel full of that, and it will mix the surface with the second layer.

134:30:05 Haise: Roger, Al. How deep did you finally end up getting down?

134:30:14 Shepard: Well, the trench is about a foot and a half deep. I gave up actually not because it was hard digging, but because the walls kept falling in on it and it was covering all the evidence of stratigraphy.

134:30:26 Haise: Roger, Al.

134:30:31 Mitchell: And, Houston. I'm over 20 feet, no, 50 feet from where Al is; and on the east side of these craters, I have the triple core in about a tube and a quarter and it's tightening up again. I just don't think it's going to go the rest of the way.

134:30:52 Haise: Okay, Ed.

[The actual distance from the second core site to the trench is about 8 meters or about 25 feet.]
134:30:53 Mitchell: I'm maybe driving a millimeter a stroke. I'll hit it a few more licks, and I'll see if we can break through or move it a little more. (Pause) No, that's as far as it is going, Houston; one and a quarter.

134:31:17 Haise: Okay, Ed. We'll just take your judgment on that. When you don't think you can get it in any further, you can stop there.

134:31:33 Mitchell: Okay. I think I could probably beat it for the next 10 minutes, Fred, and not get another inch out of it.

[Jones - "During your first try on that core tube, you said that it felt like you were down to rock. Here, you just said that it felt like it was tightening up again. Was there a different feel, that you remember?"]

[Mitchell - "Yeah, I think on the first one, I probably did hit something. But I think what we're experiencing with both, as I recall, is that, the deeper we drive into, it was like we were driving into tighter and tighter and tighter material. But on the first one, I did hit a rock too, as well as getting into that layer of compacted material. On the second one, I didn't hit a rock, but I was getting into such firmly compacted material that, by the time I was done 1 1/4 tubes, it just wouldn't go in any further. And I was hitting hard. I mean, I used a lot of energy with that hammer, and it just wasn't going anywhere."]

[Jones - "I've seen Gene (Cernan) get the hammer up to helmet height and bring it down sharply."]

[Mitchell - "That's right. And using the hammer on the side. You weren't hitting on the end, you were hitting on the side because you didn't have enough control to really hit it on the head of the hammer."]

[The core tubes on Apollo 11 wouldn't go in very deep because of a poor design. A new design was successful on 12. The Apollo 14 Preliminary Science Report indicates that the first core bit was damaged when it hit a rock which stopped penetration. In this second case, no rock was involved and the investigators suggest that a larger-than-normal average grain size and low bulk density (compared with the 11 and 12 soils) may have been responsible.]

[Mitchell - "I would say that's just the wrong answer. The bulk density's the criterion. I would say it was higher bulk density. If you go onto a wet, sandy beach and you try to drive a stake or something into that wet sand, it compacts on you. After a certain point, you got too much stiction (static friction) and it just won't go in when it's compacted. That's exactly the way it felt. It didn't feel like I was hitting something. It just felt like, the more I was driving it, it was getting tighter and tighter and tighter and tighter and tighter. Just like it was squeezing it down."]

[Jones - "Basically, the grains couldn't move out of the way."]

134:31:39 Haise: Well, I don't think you need the exercise; you may as well extract it now.

134:31:46 Mitchell: I agree. I'll take a picture of it, a final picture of it, to show you how far we got with it. (Long Pause)

[The photos are AS14-68- 9457 and 9458. 9457 is blurred by camera motion.]
134:32:10 Shepard: Okay, Houston; this is Al. And bag 21 is kind of a collection of the - excuse me - a combination of the top two layers. Second layer is a thin layer of small glassy-like pebbles. I was unable to separate that by the trench method, so I gave it to you mixed up in that bag; and the last bag will be (a) sample from the bottom layer.
[Throughout the mission, Al has not been enunciating clearly. His last transmission was originally transcribed as "pebbles from the bottom layer". However, "samples from the bottom layer" not only seems closer to what he said but also makes more sense. He mentioned the pebbles as being from the intermediate layer, not from the bottom. Note, also, that Al pauses briefly before saying the word that I believe is "sample" and, as I have indicated, there may be an "a" that was clipped by the voice activation circuitry. There is no doubt that syllables at the beginning of transmissions are sometimes clipped and, indeed, the frequent use of "okay" by all the astronauts may, in part, be a subconscious attempt to trigger the VOX with an unimportant word.]
134:32:40 Haise: Okay, Al. And about what's the thickness of the intermediate layer there?

134:32:49 Shepard: Well, it's really ephemeral. (Chuckles) It's almost...It's very thin; I would say no more than a quarter of an inch thick, and I just noticed it because of the difference of the grain structure as I was digging the trench.

134:33:05 Haise: Roger, Al.

134:33:13 Shepard: And in bag twenty - two-zero - will go a sample of the bottom material; also, mixed up with some of the surface material that has fallen down in on top of it. And that's about...Call it 18 inches below surface.

134:33:38 Haise: Roger, Al; and when you and Ed can work it in, we need another EMU check.

134:33:49 Shepard: Okay. (Pause) This is Al, at 3.75 (psi) and reading about...

134:34:07 Mitchell: Oh, hell.

[Ed may be trying to remove the damaged bit from his first attempt to drive a triple core.]
134:34:10 Shepard: ...Reading 35; I have no flags; and I'm in Medium flow - now, going to Min flow - and feeling good.

134:34:20 Haise: Okay; and what kind of misery are you having now, Ed?

134:34:26 Mitchell: 3.75; 32 percent. Minimum...Am I at Minimum...Medium...Just a minute. (Pause) I'm in Medium cooling and doing great.

134:34:42 Haise: Okay.

134:34:43 Mitchell: Now, my problem is I can't get the...Driving down to that rock, I couldn't get the core cap (means "bit") off. I'll get some help from Al, soon as he puts his handful of samples down. (Pause) Oops. Okay, that's great.

134:35:05 Shepard: Okay, let me get rid of this trencher.

134:35:09 Haise: Okay. On the agenda, here, we have remaining documented samples, and we need a pan.

134:35:21 Mitchell: Rog. We'll get it for you.

134:35:22 Shepard: Oh, God.

[It is tempting to think that Al is struggling to remove the damaged core bit, but Ed's next statement makes it more likely Al dropped a sample bag. We'll never know. The important fact is that the damaged core bit did make it back to Houston for examination.]
134:35:23 Mitchell: Get another one. Skip it; we've got plenty. (Pause) I'll get it.

134:35:35 Shepard: I got it.

[Mitchell, from the 1971 Technical Debrief - "We had a lot of trouble with sample bags. We threw a lot of them away because the little metal flags that were supposed to help you roll them up were getting entangled with each other. It was almost impossible to sort them out and pull one bag out of the dispenser. Generally, we pulled two or three, and one or two of those would get lost (meaning "dropped"). It was too much effort to bend down and pick them up. It didn't look like we were going to use all of them anyway. That particular piece of equipment is going to have to be smoothed out. It was time-consuming and hard to use."]

[According to Judy Allton's "Catalog of Apollo Lunar Surface Geological Sampling Tools and Containers", the Apollo 12/14 sample bag dispenser was a metal cylinder, such as the one shown at the left side of the rock box pictured in S70-52550. Later crews had a flat-pack dispenser that worked quite well, at least with regard to the dispenser function. The flat-pack dispenser was, however, mounted on the camera bracket and problems were experienced with the mount on both Apollos 16 and 17.]

134:35:37 Haise: Okay. And, Al, one question, did you get the SESC (Special Environmental Sample Container) sample out of the bottom of the trench?

134:35:49 Shepard: Well, I told you the trench was kind of a miserable thing, because the walls kept falling down. And I could get a sample from the bottom, but it wouldn't be the bottom, I'm afraid.

134:36:05 Mitchell: Okay, Fredo, the bottom bit on this (core) string was bit (number) ...What, (bag) 23? Isn't it, Al? That's the one you got.

134:36:15 Shepard: Twenty-three.

134:36:17 Haise: Roger, Ed.

134:36:19 Shepard: Right, 23. (Pause)

134:36:26 Shepard: Okay, we need a pan from here; I can get that.

134:36:29 Mitchell: Okay. (Long Pause)

134:36:42 Shepard: (Probably starting his pan) Okay.

Al's Station G Pan ( frames AS14-64- 9167 to 9187 )

134:36:44 Haise: And, Al, when you get done with the pan, I guess they'd still like the SESC sample from the bottom of the trench, even though it probably isn't the bottom.

134:36:57 Shepard: Well, I'll tell you, I'll go back and whack at it a little bit. See what I can do. (Pause)

134:37:14 Haise: Okay. And, Al and Ed, we have about 8 minutes left here at Triplet.

134:37:26 Shepard: Roger. You're still counting on a quick trip out to the ALSEP antenna?

134:37:35 Haise: That's affirm, Al. That's included in this time; and when you start out, we'd like you to make some grab samples as you pass by North Triplet.

134:37:51 Shepard: Okay. (Pause)

134:38:01 Mitchell: And, Fredo, the triple core tube, the second core didn't have anything in it. As soon as I opened it up, a little bit fell out, and the second core tube is empty.

134:38:15 Haise: Roger, Ed.

134:38:17 Mitchell: Even though it drove in about 3 inches, it didn't get anything.

134:38:26 Haise: Okay, Ed.

134:38:31 Shepard: Okay.

134:38:34 Mitchell: Okay, I'll put a bit back on that one. Save it. (Pause)

134:38:48 Haise: Okay, and when you get done there, Ed, I guess you can proceed with getting some documented samples before we have to depart.

134:38:58 Mitchell: Okay. (Pause)

134:39:08 Shepard: Okay. SESC can; that's over in that pocket (on the MET), right?

134:39:11 Mitchell: Yeah. (Long Pause)

134:39:31 Mitchell: Okay. Documented samples coming up. (Long Pause)

134:39:48 Shepard: See this white stuff on the rim area, Ed?

134:39:51 Mitchell: Beg your pardon?

134:39:52 Shepard: See this white stuff on the rim here?

134:39:54 Mitchell: Yeah.

134:39:56 Shepard: Document some of that. Here's a rock right here.

134:39:58 Mitchell: Yeah.

134:40:01 Haise: Okay, has Al moved over by the rim of North Crater now?

134:40:07 Mitchell: No, no, no. We're still at the same place.

134:40:09 Shepard: Negative.

134:40:11 Mitchell: That's pretty well disturbed, Al; I'll grab it without much documentation.

134:40:15 Shepard: Okay. Still digging the bottom of the trench for you, Fredo.

134:40:21 Haise: Okay, Al.

134:40:28 Shepard: I'm redigging the trench. (Pause)

134:40:40 Mitchell: I'm picking up one of the so-called whiter rocks, Fredo, near the area where Al is digging. Since it's already disturbed, I'm not going to waste time on much (actually, any) documentation. Kind of a (garbled under Haise).

134:40:57 Haise: Roger, Ed.

134:41:01 Mitchell: And it's going into 25 Nancy. (Long Pause)

[This sample is 14307, a 155-gram 'ancient' regolith breccia.]
134:41:53 Haise: Okay. We have about three and a half minutes left at Triplet.

134:42:01 Shepard: Okay, we're packing up now.

134:42:04 Mitchell: One more documented sample.

134:42:06 Haise: Okay, there is a special request. Rather than grab samples at the North (Triplet) Crater rim there, they'd like to get a documented sample of a partially buried rock.

134:42:21 Mitchell: Okay. I was going to try to get you one of those right here, but it looks pretty big. I think maybe I can get it anyhow.

134:42:31 Haise: Okay, Ed. (Long Pause)

[Ed's photos of the Station G documented sample are AS14-68-9459 to 9464 and include a down-Sun "before", a stereopair of cross-Sun "befores", a stereopair of "afters" and a "locator" showing the horizon. On later missions, each of the crew generally will do sampling as a team, one of them taking the down-Sun's, one taking the cross-Sun's, one getting the sample with the tongs or scoop and the other holding the sample bag. Ed and Al will do some team sampling at 134:49:23 but, as is evidenced by the dialog there, are not as well practiced at it as the J-mission crews will be.]
MP3 Audio Clip by Ken Glover (4 min 28 sec)

134:43:12 Shepard: Oh, no!

134:43:13 Mitchell: What's the matter? (Long Pause)

134:43:35 Shepard: I can't believe it!

134:43:36 Mitchell: What's the matter, Al?

134:43:37 Shepard: Oh, that seal came off that thing.

[Comm Break]

[As with the rock boxes, the seal on the Special Environmental Sample Container consists of a knife edge on the body of the can and a strip of soft, indium metal in the lid. During the flight out from Earth, the knife edge and the indium strip are kept apart by Teflon seal protectors which keep the seal clean while the can is being filled. See, pages 62 and 63 in in Judy Allton's Geology Tool Catalog.]

[Shepard, from the 1971 Technical Debrief - "In attempting to fill the container (with soil from the trench), I had a problem. Fortunately, we had two of those containers. I took the cover off. The top and bottom part of the container have protective Teflon seals. When I took the first can apart, both seals came off together. This left the knife edge unprotected. We discarded that one. We went after the other one and, fortunately, that came apart all right. I filled it with material. Even after we put it on the MET, that's the one that bounced out. Fortunately, Ed was behind there and saw it bounce out, so we didn't lose it. I don't know why those two pieces of Teflon came off together. The top came off and there they were. I was looking at the unprotected seal."]

[The trench sample is 14240.]

[Note that the dialog at 134:48:18 and after suggests that, when the can comes off the MET, it is Ed who is pulling and Al who notices the can bounce off. What Al is probably remembering is an incident a few minutes later, at 134:52:27, when a core tube bounced off. In the interim, they had traded places and, when the core tube bounced off, it was Ed who was trailing behind.]

134:44:39 Haise: Okay, Ed and Al, we're going to have to be departing Triplet here. And that one brief stop at the North (Triplet) rim to pick up one documented sample, and get on back to the LM area if we're going to pick up the remaining tasks, there.

134:45:01 Shepard: Okay. (Pause) Okay, you're right.

134:45:14 Mitchell: Fred, this documented sample that I got of the buried rock, it's too big for (our) regular weigh bags. (Pause) See what I can do with it. (I meant it was too big for) "a regular sample bag"...I'm sticking one over it, but it'll never close. Okay, it's going in it. And will probably stay, but it won't close it. (Garbled under Haise).

134:45:53 Haise: Okay, that'll probably be all right, Ed. We're going to have to move out now.

134:46:02 Mitchell: It's bag 26-N.

134:46:04 Haise: Okay, Ed. (Pause)

[This is sample 14306, a half-kilogram breccia. It's original location is indicated on the shaded relief map.]
134:46:16 Mitchell: Okay. I'll grab the gnomon. We're on our way. (Pause)
[The trip back to the LM is shown in the USGS map, in the segment diagram, and in a detail ( 0.3 Mb ) from the November 2009 LROC image.]
134:46:22 Shepard: (Subvocal) The last I see of that son-of-a-bitch.

134:46:31 Mitchell: They're miserable, aren't they? (Pause)

[Jones - "I take it that the SESC was not one of Al's favorite toys."]

[Mitchell - "It wasn't! And digging trenches wasn't his favorite task, either. (Laughing) So the combination had him pretty upset. I think we're seeing here that the equipment we were using was just not optimally designed. With all the money and all the testing and everything we did and you go back and review it here, and you can see we had far too many equipment problems. And too much of the stuff just wasn't suitable for what we were trying to do with it. Now, it's nice, for example, those sample bags - the ("Dixie") cup's about that big (about a 13-cm diameter)...It's nice if you're picking up pebbles; but it turns out (that) that's damn little of what we were picking up. On this particular one I was having trouble getting in, I finally jammed it in because it just barely fit. And the sample bags were plastic. They broke. They cracked, they weren't big enough. And then the ring came off the SESC. You know, as careful as we were with quality control and all of that, it was just darn near criminal that we had to battle those sorts of problems. And battling them with inflated gloves that you couldn't hold on to anything. It was quite an experience. Now, I know we re-designed and corrected a lot of stuff before the J-missions later on, and I didn't get a full debriefing on how those guys fared. But, you know, if they had as much trouble struggling with all of that equipment as we did, it's amazing, really, that we got done even half of what we really got done."]

[Jones - "The thing that puzzles me, a little bit, is that the 12 guys had a lot of the same problems and there was the delay in your flight after the 13 accident to get some of this re-design done. Or was everybody so focused on the recovery from 13...?"]

[Mitchell - "Maybe so. And, you know, those are small details and, if the science investigators didn't pick up on it, probably nobody picked up on it. There were just so many of those details to work with. It was a matter of priorities and money."]

[Jones - "Which was declining at this time."]

[The J-mission crews experienced relatively few problems with the geology tools and containers, but they did have troubles with various of the scientific experiment packages; and also, because of the far greater time they spent out on the surface, had mechanical and thermal problems due to the dust.]

134:46:38 Shepard: Okay.

134:46:42 Mitchell: Oh. Move it up. Let me grab it for you.

134:46:44 Shepard: What? That thing? What do you mean that can?

134:46:48 Mitchell: Yeah.

134:46:49 Shepard: Forget it.

134:46:50 Mitchell: Okay.

134:46:51 Shepard: I'm never going to use it again.

[Evidently, Ed has noticed the SESC that Al had discarded after the seal protectors came off it. It may be under the MET and Ed is asking Al to move the MET so that he can retrieve the can.]


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