Descent Imaging on the Apollo Lunar Missions

Six Apollo missions each landed 2 men on the Moon: Apollo 11 and 12 occurred in 1969, Apollos 14 and 15 were in 1971, and Apollos 16 and 17 took place in 1972. The landing vehicle was called a "Lunar Module".

The Apollo Lunar Module (LM) carried a 16-millimeter Maurer Data Acquisition Camera. The camera was used to record the descent, ascent, and some surface operations. The LM camera was fitted with an 18-mm wide-angle lens. The 18mm lens had a horizontal field of view of 32 degrees and a vertical field of view of 23 degrees. The camera was mounted inside the LM, looking through the right-hand window.

The Maurer camera weighed 2.8 pounds with a 130-foot film magazine attached. It had frame rates of 1, 6, and 12 frames per second (fps) automatic and 24 fps semiautomatic at all lens focal lengths, and shutter speeds of 1/60, 1/125, 1/500 and 1/1000 second, again, at all lens focal lengths. At one fps, a 130-foot 16mm magazine would last about 88 minutes. During the descent of Apollo 11, the camera was activated at 102:31:04 MET and the landing occurred at 102:45:47 MET, for a total duration of 14m43s. From page 3-68 of the Apollo 11 Flight Plan, the camera was set to 6 fps, infinity focus. So the amount of film was just barely sufficient to record the descent.

©1999 Malin Space Science Systems, Inc.