Lunar and Planetary Institute






Apollo 15 Mission


Landing Site Overview

According to David Scott, Commander,

"We're sure in a fine place here. We can see St. George; it looks like it's right over a little rise. I'm sure it's much farther than that. We can see Bennett Hill. We see somthing off at our -- like -- 1 o'clock that's pretty good elevation -- we're not too sure of that -- but we'll give you some more detail later on."

Landing Site Selection

Apollo 15 was the first of the so-called J missions, which considerably expanded the capabilities for doing science on and near the Moon. For the first time, three 7-hour-long EVAs would be performed, and a lunar rover would significantly extend the distance a crew could travel over the lunar surface. In addition, the restriction on landing near the equator was lifted. Finally, a sophisticated suite of science experiments was also carried in the service module and used to map the Moon from orbit.

The landing site chosen for Apollo 15 was on the eastern margin of the Imbrium Basin in the region known as Palus Putredinis. There were two main objectives for this landing site. First, the rim of the Imbrium Basin could be sampled along the Appenine Mountains. It was expected that this would provide material from deeper in the lunar crust than was sampled in the Fra Mauro Formation by Apollo 14. Second, this site provided an opportunity to explore Hadley Rille, a photogenic channel in the mare surface that was probably formed by volcanic processes.

Several alternative landing site choices were also considered for Apollo 15 that would have sampled other lunar rilles. In particular, a site on the western side of the Moon in the Marius Hills was considered. The Marius Hills are believed to be volcanic structures, but their dome shapes suggested to some scientists that they formed from relatively viscous lava, possibly of a different composition from the mare basalts sampled elsewhere on the Moon. However, it was felt that the Imbrium Basin rim was a more important target than the unusual volcanism in Marius Hills. Moreover, the Marius Hills are nearly on a straight line drawn through the Apollo 12 and 14 landing sites. This is not a favorable configuration for seismic studies using the passive seismometers deployed on each of these missions. The Hadley-Appenines site provided a much more favorable seismometer network geometry.

The landing site selected for Apollo 15 was on the eastern edge of Mare Imbrium, with the objectives of sampling material from the rim of the Imbrium basin and of studying the volcanic processes that produced Hadley Rille.

Orbital Views of the Landing Site

Apollo 15 site: Earth-based telescopic view

The arrow points to the landing site adjacent to the Apennine Mountains, which form a topographic rim of the Imbrium Basin. The landing occurred on a dark mare plain called Palus Putredinis (the Marsh of Decay). Aristillus and Autolycus Craters, north of the landing site, have numerous bright rays associated with them, and some of these rays cross the landing site. (Consolidated Lunar Atlas photograph C13, Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona.)

   
Apollo 15 site: Oblique view

The bright rays from Aristillus (upper) and Autolycus (lower) craters north of the landing site are quite evident in this photograph. Hadley Rille is the sinuous channel that winds along the western margin of the Apennine Mountains. (NASA photograph AS15-1537[M].)

   
Apollo 15 site: Moderate-resolution vertical view

The landing site is located on a mare-filled embayment in the Apennine Mountains. The large Apennine mountain closest to the landing site is Hadley Delta, with St. George Crater on its lower flanks adjacent to the Hadley Rille. The prominent mountain to the upper right of the landing site is Mt. Hadley. (NASA photograph AS15-1135[M].)

   
Apollo 15 site: High-resolution vertical view

The landing site was selected so that, with the aid of the lunar roving vehicle, astronauts Dave Scott and Jim Irwin could examine the Apennine Front at Hadley Delta, the eastern rim of Hadley Rille, and two prominent groups of craters on the mare surface. The southern group of craters, South Cluster, is a concentration of secondary craters, while the northern group, North Complex, is interpreted to be of possible volcanic origin. Unfortunately, time constraints kept the crew from being able to visit the North Complex. (NASA photograph AS15-9377[P].)

   
Apollo 15 site: Enlargement of high-resolution view The lunar module casts a distinct shadow on the mare surface. (NASA photograph AS15-9377[P].)
   
Apollo 15 site: Approach view

This oblique photograph looks west across the landing site. Taken from the Lunar Module one orbit prior to landing, it illustrates the approach to the landing site as viewed by the crew. The landing site was below (east of) Hadley Rille, near the center of the photograph. The long shadows at the bottom of the photo are from the Appenine Mountains. These shadows illustrate the great height of the Appenines, which are just east of the landing site. (NASA photograph AS15-87-11717.)

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

Zoom in on the Landing Site (159KB in avi format)

 

Stereoscopic Views of the Landing Site

Stereoscopic view of the Landing SiteStereoscopic View of the Landing Site

The Apollo 15 landing site (green cross) is located on the relatively smooth Hadley Delta, a smooth plain of basaltic lava east of Hadley Rille (the sinuous channel-like depression). To the east of Hadley Delta are the lunar Montes Apennines, an arc of rugged massifs that forms the rim of the Imbrium impact basin. These views (portions of Mapping Camera frames AS15-585 and 587) measure ~65 kilometers from top to bottom. North is up. This stereo pair has a vertical exaggeration of about 3. Topographic relief of the mountains in this scene is about 4450 meters, similar to that of the highest peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountains in California.

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.

Surface Views of the Landing SIte

Looking North from the Apollo 15 Landing Site
Looking North from the Apollo 15 Landing Site
   
Looking East from the Apollo 15 Landing Site
Looking East from the Apollo 15 Landing Site
   
Looking South from the Apollo 15 Landing Site
Looking South from the Apollo 15 Landing Site
   
Looking West from the Apollo 15 Landing Site
Looking West from the Apollo 15 Landing Site