It took 43 years to locate, but NASA has finally confirmed the impact site of Apollo 16’s S-IVB rocket booster – and released a picture to prove it.
Remnants of the booster landed around 250 kilometres southwest of the Copernicus Crater.
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 same technique was used for multiple Apollo missions, beginning with Apollo 13.
The aim was to conduct seismic measurements to learn about the moon’s interior, but a malfunction meant the exact location of the Apollo 16 rocket booster was lost… until now.
The Apollo 16 S-IVB rocket booster crash site
[Image: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University]
"The site was identified in imagery from the high-resolution LROC Narrow Angle Camera aboard NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter," according to a NASA spokesperson.
“Earlier in the LRO mission, the Apollo 13, 14, 15 and 17 impact sites were successfully identified, but Apollo 16's remained elusive.”
“In the case of Apollo 16, radio contact with the booster was lost before the impact, so the location was only poorly known.”
The six Apollo landing sites photographed by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
The location of the Apollo 16 S-IVB site differs from tracking estimates by around 30 kilometres.
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.