Lunar and Planetary Institute






Apollo 14 Mission


Landing Site Overview

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.

". . . there's a few boulders out my window. They're scattered around falling between here and Doublet. I see at about my 2:30 position, probably 50 yards out, a large boulder that's probably 3 feet across. There -- that's the largest one I have in field of view, or at least, in my near field of view. And there are two or three others perhaps half that size -- or appear to be half that size in the same vicinity, just a little, little beyond, about 2:30 on the clock code and perhaps 50 meters to the largest one and then another 10 to 15 to the other big boulders. They don't seem to form a pattern that I can see. The color that we're looking at is a kind of mouse-brown or mouse-gray. And obviously, it changes with the sun angle. The surface - well, there are numerous craters in my field of view. Some old, very subdued, some overlapped by newer craters. Some that seem to be relatively recent. Most the surface, however, seems to be fine grained. Incidently, I do see some linear features on the surface. Very small, fine linear features. I do not think that they are erosion patterns; they may be. However, I can see a suggestion of them quite a ways away from the LM, kinda running parallel to those that I can see, and we'll have to talk about it later when we get out."

Edgar D. Mitchell, Lunar Module Pilot

Landing Site Selection
The landing site selected for Apollo 14 was in the Fra Mauro Formation near Cone Crater, with the primary objective of sampling material excavated by the Imbrium impact.

After the successful pinpoint landing of Apollo 12, mission planners were willing to consider landings in rougher but geologically more interesting regions. However, landing sites were still restricted to regions near the equator. Also, selected landing sites had to accomplish high-priority science objectives within the confines of two 4-hour-long walking EVAs.

Apollo 13 was targeted to land in the geologic unit known as the Fra Mauro Formation, which was formed as ejecta from the impact that formed the Imbrium Basin. Fra Mauro material had already been mapped through Earth-based telescopes as being widely distributed across the nearside of the Moon. It therefore serves as a convenient stratigraphic marker, dividing features that are older than the Imbrium impact from those that are younger. By returning samples of the Fra Mauro Formation for study on Earth, a precise age could be assigned to this geologic transition. Also, because the Fra Mauro was ejected by the Imbrium impactor, it was hoped that it would provide samples that originated deep in the Moon's crust, perhaps from tens of kilometers below the surface. The specific landing site within the Fra Mauro Formation was chosen to be near Cone Crater, a young, fresh, 370-meter-diameter impact structure. Cone Crater was chosen because it is large enough to penetrate through the lunar regolith that has been deposited since the Fra Mauro Formation was formed. In a sense, Cone Crater served as a natural drill core, exposing the rocks that were the main objective of the landing.

Prior to the abort of Apollo 13, Apollo 14 was targeted to land in the Littrow region of Mare Serenitatis, where the objective was to study young, pyroclastic volcanic deposits. Following the Apollo 13 abort, it was decided to retarget Apollo 14 to the Fra Mauro site, which was regarded as scientifically more important than the Littrow site. Also, landing in Fra Mauro would allow the astronauts to obtain orbital photography of the Descartes region, something that was not possible if Littrow was the landing site. Descartes was regarded as a high-priority target for a later mission (eventually flown by Apollo 16), but could not be certified as a safe landing site based on Lunar Orbiter photography. Although Littrow was rejected as the Apollo 14 landing site, another site in Mare Serenitatis, Taurus-Littrow, was later explored by Apollo 14.

Orbital Views of the Landing Site
   
Apollo 14 site: Earth-based telescopic view Apollo 14 site: Earth-based telescopic view
The arrow points to the landing site in the Fra Mauro Formation, interpreted to be ejecta from the impact that produced the Imbrium Basin (north of this photograph). The subdued and partially filled 80-kilometer-diameter crater below the landing site is Fra Mauro Crater. Bright rays from Copernicus Crater (north of this photograph) extend across the area surrounding the landing site, similar to the situation at the Apollo 12 site. (Consolidated Lunar Atlas photograph E14, Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona.)
   
Apollo 14 site: Oblique view Apollo 14 site: Oblique view
The hummocky terrain covering much of the left portion of the photograph is the Fra Mauro Formation, material interpreted to be ejecta from the Imbrium Basin. The low illumination angle emphasizes the undulating surface texture of the Fra Mauro Formation. The sharp-rimmed crater on the northern rim of Fra Mauro Crater is Fra Mauro D. (NASA photograph AS16-1420[M].)
   
Apollo 14 site: Moderate-resolution oblique view Apollo 14 site: Moderate-resolution oblique view
The landing site is on a planar area within the ridged topography of the Fra Mauro Formation. The sharp-rimmed crater near the center of the photograph is Fra Mauro D. The degraded rim of Fra Mauro Crater makes a broad arc through the center of the photograph, with the crater interior to the lower left. (NASA photograph AS12-52-7596.)
   
Apollo 14 site: High-resolution vertical view Apollo 14 site: High-resolution vertical view
The sharp-rimmed crater in the lower right portion of the photograph is Cone Crater, one of the more recent impacts in this area. Cone Crater is on one of the ridges that compose the distinctive Fra Mauro Formation relief. A prime objective of the Apollo 14 mission was to sample Fra Mauro materials that were excavated by the Cone Crater impact. (NASA Lunar Orbiter photograph III-133-H2.)
   
Apollo 14 site: Enlargement of high-resolution view

Apollo 14 site: Enlargement of high-resolution view
Cone Crater (the sharp-rimmed crater at the upper right portion of the photograph) was visited by astronauts Alan Shepard and Ed Mitchell during the second EVA. The astronauts got to within 20 meters of the rim crest of Cone Crater. The ALSEP station was set up between the landing site and the double craters (left of the landing site) during the first EVA. (NASA Lunar Orbiter photograph III-133-H2.)

   

Zoom in on the Landing Site (93KB) in quick time format

Stereoscopic Views of the Landing Site

Stereoscopic Views of the Landing Site
Stereoscopic View of the Landing Site

Stereo Viewing
Red/Green (Anaglyph) Images
To view anaglyph stereo pairs you need red-green (or red-blue) stereo glasses. These glasses have a red lens over the left eye and green (or blue) lens over the right eye.

Black and White Images
To view side-by-side stereo pairs, use pocket stereo viewers (obtainable from local educational suppliers, bookstores, etc.).

Side-by-side stereo pairs can also be viewed with the unaided eye by focusing on each image separately and allowing the eyes to cross. If you wear glasses, it may be necessary to remove them and view the pairs from 6 to 10 inches away. These techniques may require some practice (the Apollo 15, 16 and 17 stereo pairs are good for this purpose). Another means of assisting this process is to place an index card upright between the two images, forcing each eye to see the different images. Only approximately 10% of the general public cannot view images stereoscopically.

The Apollo 14 landing site (green cross) is located on the rugged Fra Mauro Highlands south of Copernicus Crater. This was the first landing in terrain with significant relief. Topographic relief across the scene is ~500 meters. These views (Hasselblad frames AS14-70-9816 and AS14-70-9814) show an area 24 kilometers across from top to bottom, with north to the top. The vertical exaggeration is about 3.

Surface Views of the Landing Site  
Near the Lunar Mode  
   

Looking North from the Apollo 14 Landing Site

Looking North from the Apollo 14 Landing Site
   
Looking East from the Apollo 14 Landing Site Looking East from the Apollo 14 Landing Site
   
Looking South from the Apollo 14 Landing Site Looking South from the Apollo 14 Landing Site
   
Looking West from the Apollo 14 Landing Site Looking West from the Apollo 14 Landing Site
   

The Traverse to Cone Crater

Traverse Map

Station B2 - Big Rock
Astronaut Alan Shepard examines Big Rock at Station B2. Big Rock is 1.5 meters wide and 0.6 meters high. Despite Big Rock's name, the crew encountered much larger boulders closer to Cone Crater. (Apollo 14 photograph AS14-68-9414.)

Station B2 - Big Rock
   
Station B2 - Old Nameless Crater
This view looking southeast shows Old Nameless Crater on the horizon and illustrates the difficulty of accurately judging distances on the Moon. Although Old Nameless appears to be nearby, it is actually more than 2 kilometers from this location and 1 kilometer in diameter. (Apollo 14 photograph AS14-68-9425.)
Station B2 - Old Nameless Crater
   
Station C1 - Contact Rock
Station C1 was located only about 20 meters from the rim of Cone Crater. The largest boulder in this photo is Contact Rock, which is about 3 meters wide. Numerous other boulders can be seen in the background. All of these boulders were ejected by the meteorite impact that produced Cone Crater. This photo looks to the southwest, and the lunar module can be seen as a faint smudge in the upper right portion of the picture. (Apollo 14 photograph AS14-68-9448.)
Station C1 - Contact Rock
   
Station C1 - Saddle Rock
This photograph shows Saddle Rock, the largest boulder seen on this mission. Named for its shape, Saddle Rock is 4.5 meters across and is about 5 meters northeast of Contact Rock. (Apollo 14 photograph AS14-68-9450.)
Station C1 - Saddle Rock
   
Station H - Turtle Rock
Turtle Rock is about 1.5 meters wide and 0.75 meters high. It is named for the turtle-shaped feature at its top. Although this region is more than 1 kilometer from the rim of Cone Crater, a variety of large boulders are present. (Apollo 14 photograph AS14-68-9475.)
Station H - Turtle Rock
   
Lunar Module and Triplet Crater
The two depressions on the horizon of this photograph are part of Triplet Crater, a distinctive landmark just south of the Apollo 14 landing site. The crew used Triplet as a navigation landmark while landing the lunar module. (Apollo 14 photograph AS14-68-9487.)
Lunar Module and Triplet Crater
   

LPI Slide Set "The Apollo Landing Sites"