Collection Item Summary:
This is a reconstructed back-up engineering model of the first astronomical telescope to observe from another planetary body. It represents a telescopic camera that was flown to the moon on Apollo 16. Built by George Carruthers at the Naval Research Laboratory, it was operated by astronaut John Young in a programmed series of studies of the Earth's outermost atmosphere, its "geocorona." It was also used to examine ultraviolet colors of stars and nebulae as well as the earth's upper atmosphere and diffuse gaseous material in the depths of space. The camera operated in dual mode: spectroscopic and direct view.
This artifact is one of two back-up units to the flown camera that were transferred from NASA-Johnson Space Center to the Museum in June 1981. NASA variously called the device the "Lunar Surface Camera" or the "Far Ultraviolet Camera/Spectrograph." Its primary collecting system is an F/1, 3-inch Schmidt camera and it is mounted in an altitude-azimuth frame for access to the visible sky. It employed electronographic amplification of the optical signal, and recording on a roll of nuclear emulsion film that was fed by a film transport mechanism that was returned to earth after the mission. In 1992 this artifact was loaned to NRL so that Carruthers and Project SMART students could restore it prior to putting it on display next to the Lunar Lander in 1993. As part of the restoration, Carruthers attached the flown film transport mechanism at the back end of the electronographic camera and added other components, such as (from his letter of 6 March 1993):
"1. Items which were manufactured as replicas of the missing originals were the
camera mounting plate, corrector plate motor drive motor enclosures and
control electronics box (simulated by solid blocks of aluminum), and
miscellaneous small parts.
2. Items which were replaced by similar, but not identical, hardware on hand as
Apollo 16 prototypes or hardware for other f l i g h t experiments, include the
camera assembly (including magnet) and high voltage power supply,
3. The film transport assembly on the display unit is the actual flight unit
which went to the moon and back on Apollo 16."
The film transport assembly has been given a separate accession file number,
Collection Item Long Description:
National Air and Space Museum
Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum
Naval Research Laboratory
Transferred from the Naval Research Laboratory
Gold plated metal, electronics
3-D: 40.6 x 73.7 x 45.7cm (16 x 29 x 18 in.)
See more items in
National Air and Space Museum Collection
Country of Origin
United States of America