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Soil Mechanics Experiment

NSSDC ID: 1969-059C-06
Mission Name: Apollo 11 Lunar Module / EASEP
Principal Investigator: Prof. James K. Mitchell


The soil mechanics experiment had two primary objectives: to enhance the scientific understanding of the nature and origin of the materialsand the mechanisms and processes responsible for the present morphology and consistency of the lunar surface and to provide engineering data on the interaction of manned systems and manned operations with the lunar surface. The specific scientific objectives were: 1) to verify lunar soil models previously formulated from Earth-based observations and laboratory investigations and from lunar orbiting and unmanned lunar landing missions; 2) to determine the extent of variability in lunar soil properties with depth and lateral position; and 3) to aid in the interpretation of geological observations, sampling, and general documentation of maria features. The engineering objectives included: 1) obtaining information relating ot the interaction of the LM with the lunar surface during landing and to lunar soil erosioncaused by the spacecraft engine exhaust; 2) providing a basis for altering mission plans because of unexpected conditions; 3) assessing the effect of lunar soil properties on astronaut and surface vehicle mobility; and 4) obtaining information needed for the deployment, installation, operation, and maintenance of scientific and engineering stations and equipment to be used in extended lunar exploration. Much of the information necessary to meet these objectives was obtained during the Apollo 11 EVA by photographs and crew observations of the material properties.


  • Planetary Science: Geology and Geophysics

Additional Information

Questions or comments about this experiment can be directed to: Dr. David R. Williams.



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Prof. James K. MitchellPrincipal InvestigatorUniversity of California, Berkeley 

Selected References

Costes, N. C., et al., Apollo 11 soil mechanics investigation, In -- Apollo 11 Prelim. Sci. Rept., NASA SP-214, Wash., DC, 1969.

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