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Apollo 16 Particle and Fields Subsatellite
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Apollo 16D
Apollo 16 Particle and Fields Subsatellite Mission to Earth's Moon

Goals: The main objectives of this small satellite were to study the plasma, particle, and magnetic-field environment of the Moon and map the lunar gravity field.

Accomplishments: The satellite orbited the Moon for 34 days, during which it provided data similar to that of the Apollo 15 subsatellite. Its short lifetime (instead of the planned one year) resulted from the low orbit into which the Apollo 16 astronauts were forced to place it because of problems with the main engine of their Command and Service Module.

Key Dates
16 Apr 1972:  Launch
24 Apr 1972:  Deployment by Apollo 16 Crew
29 May 1972:  Lunar Impact
Status: Partial Success
Fast Facts
Apollo 16D Facts The spacecraft was virtually identical to the Apollo 15 subsatellite.

Tracking of both Apollo subsatellites and the Lunar Orbiter 5 showed that lunar mass concentrations (mascons), which perturb the Moon's gravitational field, are caused by lava flooding of basins and not by buried material as previously suspected.

Engine problems forced the release of the satellite at a low altitude, which caused its early demise.
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Last Updated: 29 Sep 2010