A comment by @Hobbes on the question How did Apollo-12 manage to land next to Surveyor-3? First “Space-Tourists”? points out that the "souvenirs" removed and retrieved from the Surveyor-3 lander by the astronauts and returned to Earth were studied for "the effects of long-term exposure to space" on moon exploration equipment.

This was important not only for basic science, but for planning for equipment to be left on the moon by subsequent Apollo missions and further space exploration as well. The components had been exposed to the lunar space environment and solar radiation for 31 and 16 months, respectively.

Is there any discussion or reports of "What was learned from study of Surveyor-3's components, retrieved and returned to Earth by Apollo-12?"

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It's often fruitful to web-search for "Apollo xyz mission report" to get answers to these sorts of questions. $\endgroup$ Feb 27, 2017 at 2:09

1 Answer 1


The Apollo 12 Preliminary Science Report contains a section on Surveyor 3.

Among other findings:

  • no evidence of "cold welding" of the parts.
  • dust kicked up during the landing of the Apollo 12 LM pitted and "sandblasted" one side of Surveyor
  • micrometeoroid pitting was light and confirmed the estimates used in designing the Apollo spacecraft to withstand same

There's also a more detailed Analysis of Surveyor 3 material and photographs, which among other things:

  • Mentions that a streptococcus bacterium was isolated from a piece of foam in the interior of the camera, presumably a stowaway, but later analysis suggests the possibility that it was contamination occurring after the return from Apollo 12.
  • No living microbes appeared to have survived in a bundle of wiring, but that's inconclusive because they have no way of knowing if there were any living microbes in there when Surveyor was launched.

From the report's preface:

Engineering studies of the television camera show that the complex electromechanical components, optics, and solid state electronics were remarkably resistant to the severe lunar surface environment over 32 lunar day/night cycles with their extremes of temperature and long exposure to solar and cosmic radiation. These results indicate that the state of technology, even as it existed some years ago, is capable of producing reliable hardware that makes feasible long-life lunar and planetary installations.

  • $\begingroup$ I've taken the liberty to add a quote from the report you've found as an example of "What was learned..." does this look OK? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Feb 27, 2017 at 16:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.