archive: SETI FW: [ASTRO] Re: Apollo 12/Surveyor 3/microbes

SETI FW: [ASTRO] Re: Apollo 12/Surveyor 3/microbes

Larry Klaes ( )
Thu, 3 Sep 1998 12:09:42 -0400

From: Ron Baalke
Sent: Wednesday, September 02, 1998 4:15 PM
Subject: [ASTRO] Re: Apollo 12/Surveyor 3/microbes

>No, it was Apollo 12, which landed in the Ocean of Storms in
>November of 1969, just 600 feet away from Surveyor 3, the lunar
>lander in question, which had arrived back in 1967.

As a sidenote, there is a piece of Surveyor 3 here at
JPL. The scoop of the spacecraft's arm was returned, and is
on display next to a lunar rock.

>[Journal reader Marv Hein called my attention to a discussion in the
>NASA report, "Analysis of Surveyor 3 material and photographs returned
>by Apollo 12". Material in that report indicates that the survival of
>microbes was anticipated at the time Surveyor III was launched. "The
>precautions against the contamination of the Moon, once strict, have now
>been relaxed in view of our developing knowledge of the inhospitable
>environment for terrestrial life that exists on the lunar surface and
>the belief that landed contamination, if it survives, will remain
>localized. For these reasons, lunar landing spacecraft may have on board
>a low level of microbial life, they must be decontaminated but not

Then there is this interesting little tibdit that Jim Oberg sent to me:

>From Jim Oberg:
>A few years ago, in a letter published in the "Planetary Report", the director
>of the microbe recovery experiment (name escapes me) confessed that he doubted
>the strep bacteria had been to the moon and back. During the swabbing process
>after Apollo-12's return, a technician broke quarantine by placing the swab
>down on an unsterilized surface in the lab, then picked it back up. The
>suspicion is that the strep was picked up there thanks to a worker's sneeze.

Ron Baalke