Lunar and Planetary Institute

Apollo 12 Mission

Apollo 12 Mission patch

Mission OverviewNavigation arrow

Apollo 12 was launched at 11:22:00 a.m. EST on November 14, 1969. The mission plan called for a landing in the Oceanus Procellarum (Ocean of Storms) area. The launch took place from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The spacecraft was boosted into space atop a Saturn 5 rocket. After confirming that there was no damage from lightning strikes during the launch, the crew proceeded with the mission as planned. The post-flight evaluation of the mission was that all mission goals had been successfully completed.

Looking North from the Apollo 12 Landing Site.

Landing Site Navigation arrow

The Apollo 12 lunar module made a precision landing on the lunar surface on November 19, 1969, in Oceanus Procellarum at 3°11'51" south latitude and 23°23'8" west longitude. The touchdown point was on the northwest rim of Surveyor Crater only 600 feet from the target point, the Surveyor III spacecraft, which landed on April 20, 1967. This precision landing was of great significance to the future exploration program because landing points in rough terrain of great scientific interest could then be targeted.

The Apollo 12 lunar module (LM) in the surface of the moon.

Surface Operations Navigation arrow

The Apollo 12 mission provided the first opportunity to study the Moon extensively within a radius of 0.5 kilometers of the landing site. Lunar surface activities were performed essentially as planned within the allotted time periods. Three hours after landing, the crew began preparations for egress and the first traverse of the lunar surface. During the two extravehicular activity periods, a total duration of 7.5 hours, the astronauts were given very specific tasks to complete. Among these were to collect lunar samples, to deploy several experiments, and to examine and photograph the lunar surface. The following map of the landing area shows where these activities took place.

Tongs were used to pick up rock samples. Apollo 12 photograph AS12-47-6932.

Mission Photography Navigation arrow

Apollo 12 represented man's second opportunity to directly observe scientific phenomena on the lunar surface. Both the surface and orbital photography of the mission served not only to document man's second lunar landing and extravehicular activities of the astronauts, but also to identify scientifc areas and experiments for study in future missions.

Astronaut performing the cold cathode gauge experiment to measure the total pressure of the lunar atmosphere

Science Experiments Navigation arrow

In addition to their geologic studies, the Apollo 12 crew performed several experiments on the lunar surface. The results of some of these experiments were either radioed to Earth by the crew or returned to Earth for laboratory analysis.

Apollo 12 KREEP sample 12013. This sample has a mass of 82 grams and is up to 5 centimeters across. NASA/Johnson Space Center photograph S70-43176.

Lunar Samples Navigation arrow

When viewed through a telescope, the Apollo 12 landing site has fewer craters and a slightly redder color than the Apollo 11 landing site. It was thought that these characteristics indicated that the rocks at the Apollo 12 landing site were both younger and different in chemical composition than the rocks at the Apollo 11 landing site. Apollo 12 returned 34 kilograms of samples, including 45 rocks, samples of lunar "soil," and several core tubes that included material from as much as 40 centimeters below the lunar surface. This material both confirmed the pre-mission expectations and also posed some new questions.