A physicist has finally found the impact site of the Apollo 16 rocket booster – an incredible 43 years since it crashed into the moon.
As one of the mission’s experiments, the crew of the Apollo 16 crashed their Saturn V stage 3 booster into the moon – after it had safely propelled them into orbit.
The aim was to conduct seismic measurements to learn about the moon’s interior, but a malfunction meant the exact location of the rocket was lost… until now.
Jeff Plescia from John Hopkins University located the site using high-resolution images from the LROC system on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
“I did finally find the Apollo 16 S-IVB crater,” Plescia told Inside Outer Space. “It looks like the others, but its position was much more poorly defined since the tracking was lost prior to impact.”
Apollo 16 was the fifth mission to land men on the moon and return them to Earth and the second flight of the Lunar Roving Vehicle.
Astronauts collected samples, took photographs and conducted experiments including the first use of an ultraviolet camera/spectrograph on the Moon.
One of the mission’s astronauts, Charles Duke Jr, famously left a family portrait on the surface of the moon while exploring the Descartes Highlands.