Lunar and Planetary Institute

Apollo 14 Mission

Apollo 14 Mission patch

Mission OverviewNavigation arrow

The Apollo 14 mission, with a crew including Alan Shepard Jr., Stuart A. Roosa, and Edgar D. Mitchell, was launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on January 31, 1971. It was the third mission to achieve lunar landing. The spacecraft landed in the Fra Mauro highlands, the same area that was to have been explored on Apollo 13. Although the primary mission objectives for Apollo 14 were the same as those of Apollo 13, provisions were made for returning a significantly greater quantity of lunar material and scientific data than had been possible previously. An innovation that allowed an increase in the range of lunar surface exploration and the amount of material collected was the provision of a collapsible, two-wheeled cart, the modular equipment transporter (MET), for carrying tools, cameras, a portable magnetometer, and lunar samples. Lunar liftoff occurred on February 6 with mission completion on February 9.

Looking West from the Apollo 14 Landing Site

Landing Site Navigation arrow

The landing site is located in a broad, shallow valley between radial ridges of the Fra Mauro Formation and approximately 500 kilometers from the edge of the Imbrium Basin. The major crater Copernicus lies 360 kilometers to the north, and bright ray material that emanates from Copernicus Crater covers much of the landing site region. In the immediate landing site area, an important feature is the young, very blocky Cone Crater, which is approximately 340 meters in diameter and which penetrates the regolith on the ridge to the east of the landing site.

The Television Camera Setup

Surface Operations Navigation arrow

During their 33.5 hours on the Moon, the Apollo 14 crew performed two extravehicular activities (EVAs) totaling over 9 hours on the lunar surface. These EVAs covered a total traverse distance of 3.5 kilometers and involved collecting at 13 locations, deploying or performing 10 experiments, and examining and photographing the lunar surface. The following map of the landing area shows where these activities took place.

Astronaut Edgar D Mitchell, lunar module pilot, operates the Active Sesimic Experiment's thumper during the first Apollo 14 extravehicular activity (EVA-1) on the Moon.

Mission Photography Navigation arrow

Both the surface and orbital photography of the mission served not only to document the third lunar landing and the extravehicular activities of the astronauts, but also to identify scientific areas and experiments for study on future missions.

Core tube sampling equipment.

Science Experiments Navigation arrow

In addition to their geologic studies, the Apollo 14 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 14 breccia 14321, Big Bertha. This sample has a mass of 9 kilograms and is up to 23 centimeters across. It was collected near the rim of Cone Crater and was probably ejected from a depth of 60 to 80 meters below the lunar surface. NASA/Johnson Space Center photograph S71-29184.

Lunar Samples Navigation arrow

The Apollo 14 landing site was in the Fra Mauro formation, which is material ejected by the impact that produced the Imbrium Basin. As one would expect in a region formed by impact-basin debris, most of the 42 kilograms of rocks and soil collected on Apollo 14 are breccias (rocks that are composed of fragments of other, older rocks). The countless impacts that have sculpted the Moon's surface broke many rocks down into small fragments. The heat and pressure of such impacts can sometimes fuse these fragments into new rocks, called breccias. In some cases, the rock fragments that form a breccia are themselves breccias. Such rocks obviously have experienced complex histories with multiple generations of impact events.