LROC system on the NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter captures crash spot of Apollo 16's SIVB rocket stage - dead center in image. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

LROC system on the NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter captures crash spot of
Apollo 16’s SIVB rocket stage – dead center in image.
Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

Update from Jeff Plescia: The coordinates of the newly found impact site are 1.922N, 334.38E, and the elevation is about –1100 m with respect to the datum.
The position is about 31 km from the position determined by the seismic experiments and about 10 km from where the extrapolated tracking data suggested.
Understanding the actual location of both the impact and seismometers in the same coordinate frame allows a better derivation of the seismic velocity models.

The crash site of Apollo 16’s S-IVB stage has been pinpointed after a dedicated search for its impact location on the Moon.

As the third stage on the Saturn V booster, the S-IVB stages were purposely smashed into the Moon to perform seismic measurements used for characterizing the lunar interior.

However, on the Apollo 16 flight, a malfunction resulted in premature loss of tracking data for that mission’s SIVB. There was uncertainty in the stage’s impact location.

Position poorly defined

“I did finally find the Apollo 16 SIVB crater,” reports Jeff Plescia of The Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.

Leader in lunar lost and found hardware: Jeff Plescia of The Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.

Leader in lunar lost and found hardware: Jeff Plescia of The Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.

“It looks like the others, but its position was much more poorly defined since the tracking was lost prior to impact,” Plescia told Inside Outer Space.

The Apollo 16’s SIVB struck the Moon on April 19, 1972.

Plescia made use of super-powerful images produced by the LROC system on the NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to identify the crash site.

Fifth human mission

Lifting off from Earth on April 16, 1972, Apollo 16 was the fifth mission to land humans on the Moon and return them to Earth.

April 16, 1972 liftoff of Apollo 16. Credit: NASA

April 16, 1972 liftoff of Apollo 16.
Credit: NASA

The crew members for this expedition were John Young, Commander, Thomas Mattingly II, Command Module Pilot, and Charles Duke, Jr., Lunar Module Pilot,

Onboard their lunar lander – Orion — Young and Duke touched down in the Descartes Highlands of the Moon.

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