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Passive Seismic Experiment, Apollo


Display Status:

This object is on display in the Apollo to the Moon exhibition at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

Collection Item Summary:

A device like this deployed on the lunar surface by the Apollo 11 crew in 1969 contained four seismometers powered by two panels of solar cells, which converted solar energy into electricity. The experiment measured lunar shock waves caused by moonquakes or impacts of meteoroids or of manmade objects on the surface. Data regarding the strength, duration, and approximate direction of the seismic event were relayed to receiving stations on Earth. The seismic instrument package continued sending data for about a month after the Apollo 11 landing. The seismic experiments left on the surface by the crews of Apollo 11 and four later Apollo missions continued to return valuable information even after the end of the Moon landings; the last one was shut off in 1981.

This unit was the Qualification Model for the unit deployed during the Apollo 11 mission. It was donated to the Museum by the Bendix Corporation in 1972.

Collection Item Long Description:


Passive Seismic Experiment, Apollo

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum


Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum

Credit Line

Donated by the Bendix Corp.


  • Aluminum
  • Gold Plating
  • Beryllium
  • Kapton
  • Mylar
  • Electrical wiring
  • Velcro
  • Steel
  • Rubber
  • Paint
  • Photosensitive cells


  • Overall (Pallet): 9 1/16in. x 2ft 1 3/16in. x 2ft 3 9/16in. (23 x 64 x 70cm)
  • Other (PSE Cylinder): 9in. x 11in. (22.86 x 27.94cm)
  • Other (Solar panel extended): 1ft 1in. x 1/2in. x 6ft 1 1/4in. (33.02 x 1.27 x 186.06cm)

Country of Origin

United States of America



Inventory Number