Lunar and Planetary Institute






Apollo 15 Mission


Apollo 15 Mission Patch

Mission OverviewNavigation arrow
Apollo 15 was the first of the three "J" missions designed to conduct exploration of the Moon over longer periods, over greater ranges, and with more instruments for scientific data acquisition than on previous Apollo missions. Major modifications and augmentations to the basic Apollo hardware were made. The most significant change was the installation of a scientific instrument module in one of the service module bays for scientific investigations from lunar orbit. Other hardware changes consisted of lunar module modifications to accommodate a greater payload and a longer stay on the lunar surface, and the provision of a lunar roving vehicle. The landing site chosen for the mission was an area near the foot of the Montes Apenniuns and adjacent to Hadley Rille.


South view of landing site

Landing Site Navigation arrow
The Apollo 15 lunar module landed in the Hadley-Apennine region site located at 26.1°N, 3.7°E. The site is on a dark mare plain near the sinuous Hadley Rille and the frontal scarp of the Apennine Mountains. This scarp is the main boundary of the Imbrium Basin, which is centered approximately 650 kilometers to the northwest.


Lunar Rover
Surface Operations Navigation arrow
Because of the variety of surface features, the Hadley-Apennine landing site permitted extensive geological exploration. During the approximately 67 hours on the Moon, the crew conducted a 33-minute stand-up extravehicular activity (EVA) in the upper hatch of the lunar module as well as three EVAs totaling about 18.5 hours on the lunar surface.


Apollo 15 astronaut

Mission Photography Navigation arrow
The photographic objectives of the Apollo 15 mission were designed to support a wide variety of scientific and operational experiments, to provide high-resolution panoramic photographs and precisely oriented metric photographs of the lunar surface, and to document operational tasks on the lunar surface and in flight. Detailed pre-mission planning integrated the photographic tasks with the other mission objectives to produce a balanced mission that returned more data than any previous space voyage. The return of photographic data was enhanced by new equipment, the high latitude of the landing site, and greater time in lunar orbit. New camera systems that were mounted in the scientific instrument module (SIM) bay of the service module provided a major photographic capability that was not available on any previous mission. Additional camera equipment available for use within the command module (CM) and on the lunar surface also increased the photographic potential of the Apollo 15 mission over previous manned flights.


Apollo 15 Scientific Instrument Module (SIM)

Science Experiments Navigation arrow
In addition to their studies on the lunar surface, the Apollo 15 crew performed intensive studies of the Moon from lunar orbit. In addition to photography performed with hand-held cameras in the Command Module, a series of experiments were carried in the Scientific Instrument Module on the Service Module. The same suite of SIM bay instruments was also flown on Apollo 16.

In addition to their geologic studies, the Apollo 15 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 15 sample 15445

Lunar Samples Navigation arrow
Apollo 15 landed in Mare Imbrium at the base of the Apennine Mountains, which form part of the rim of the Imbrium impact basin. There were two main geology objectives for this site: to collect rocks from the Apennine mountains and to study Hadley Rille, a volcanic channel near the landing site. The Apollo 15 crew collected 370 individual rock and soil samples, including a deep drill core with material from 2.4 meters below the lunar surface, with a total mass of 77 kilograms.