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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

Mission Type: Orbiter
Launch Vehicle: Saturn V SA-511
Launch Site: Eastern Test Range / launch complex 39A, Cape Canaveral, Fla., USA
Spacecraft Mass: 42 kg
Spacecraft Instruments: 1) magnetometer; 2) S-band transponder; and 3) charged-particle detectors
Spacecraft Dimensions: hexagonal cylinder 78 cm long and about 36 cm across opposite corners of the hexagon, plus 3 equally spaced booms, each 1.5 m long
Spacecraft Power: 6 solar panels and 11 silver-cadmium batteries
Maximum Power: 24 W
Maximum Data Rate: 128 bits/sec
Deep Space Chronicle: A Chronology of Deep Space and Planetary Probes 1958-2000, Monographs in Aerospace History No. 24, by Asif A. Siddiqi

National Space Science Data Center,

Solar System Log by Andrew Wilson, published 1987 by Jane's Publishing Co. Ltd.

Nearly identical to its predecessor, the Apollo 16 Particle and Fields Subsatellite was ejected from the Apollo 16 Command and Service Module (CSM) about 4 hours prior to the crew's trans-Earth injection burn, which sent them home from the Moon.

Because of problems with the Apollo CSM main engine, the crew was forced to release the subsatellite in a low lunar orbit of 100 x 100 kilometers at 10° inclination. The orbit was rapidly altered by gravitational perturbations, and the probe crashed onto the lunar surface after 34 days in orbit rather than the planned one year. Impact point was at 10.2° north latitude and 112° east longitude at 21:00 UT on 29 May 1972. However, because of its low orbit, the spacecraft did return some valuable low-altitude data.

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