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What Science Was Actually Done on the Moon? | Apollo

Apollo 14 conducted more scientific exploration of the Moon than any mission before it, and discoveries from the trip would eventually shape a new understanding of our celestial neighbor.

About nine months after Apollo 13, NASA was headed back to the Moon. Apollo 14 was en route to the Fra Mauro formation - a ridged region that was believed to be made up of an ejecta blanket from a collision between a huge mass and the Moon. This made it an ideal landing location for science.

Once on the surface, Shepard and Mitchell attempted a trek to the rim of the Cone Crater, collecting lunar rocks in their space wagon along the way. They also measured the strength of the Moon’s magnetic field, collected samples of the solar wind and studied the properties of lunar soil. Additional experiments were deployed that enabled scientists to monitor activity from Earth. Some of these experiments would go on to detect lunar "moonquakes", providing information about the internal structure of the Moon. And others would study the lunar ionosphere and measure the precise distance between Earth and the Moon. Back on the CSM, Roosa conducted orbital science activities that measured regional variations in the Moon's gravitational acceleration and the scattering of radar waves from the lunar surface.

Apollo 14 packed in more science than any mission before it, pushing the astronauts to new extremes. They collected over 40 kilograms of rocks and soil from the lunar surface including one nicknamed "Big Bertha.” And Astronaut Alan Shepard, the oldest man to get to the moon, set a new distance-traveled record on the lunar surface equivalent to about 55 laps in an Olympic-sized pool. But aside from the extensive experiments and massive terrain covered, Apollo 14 is best remembered for a moment when Alan Shepard broke out a modified six iron and hit two golf balls into the cosmic distance. The astronauts then headed back to the CSM to begin their return to Earth.

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