Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

Apollo 16 Mission Objectives

Apollo 16 astronauts explored the Descartes region, the first opportunity to explore the lunar highlands. The site was some 2,2500 meters (7,400 feet) higher than the Apollo 11 site. Preliminary geological analysis of the highlands indicates that the Moon's crust underwent modification early in its history. By studying these modification processes, NASA hoped to achieve a better understanding of the development of this portion of the Moon's surface as well as the development of the Earth's crust, its continents, and ocean basins.

The three basic objectives were:

  1. To explore and sample the materials and surface features
  2. To set up and activate experiments on the lunar surface which would
    continue to relay data back to Earth after the crew returned
  3. To conduct inflight experiments and photographic tasks

The lunar roving vehicle, used for the first time on Apollo 15, extended the range of the exploration and geological investigations that Young and Duke would make during their three seven-hour EVAs. The Apollo lunar surface experiment package (ALSEP) which the crew deployed became the fourth in a network of lunar surface scientific stations (along with the Apollo 12, 14, and 15 ALSEPs).

The scientific instrument module (SIM) bay in the service module was the heart of the inflight experiment effort on Apollo 16. Quite similar to the SIM bay flown on Apollo 15, the bay contained high-resolution and mapping cameras and scientific sensors for photographing and measuring properties of the lunar surface and the environment around the Moon.

Engineering and operational tasks the Apollo 16 crew carried out included further evaluation of the LRV and Skylab crew equipment, and use of the SIM bay subsatellite as a navigation tracking aid. Other medical experiments included a biostack, ALFMED, and the passive bone mineral measurement.

Lunar Orbital Science

Service Module Sector 1 housed the Scientific Instrument Module (SIM) bay for this second Apollo J mission. Eight experiments were carried in the SIM bay and these were similar to the SIM bay on Apollo 15.

From Apollo 16 Press Kit.