The astronauts of Apollo 12-who began their lunar journey yesterday morning-may photograph the moon's surface with a special camera proposed by a Harvard physicist.
Edward M. Purcell, Gerhard Gade University Professor, said he "helped to get the camera designed and aboard so that close-up, color pictures of the undisturbed lunar surface could be taken." Neil A. Armstrong, commander of Apollo 11, used the same camera during his moonwalk.
NASA asked Purcell and other leading scientists in 1967 to decide what specifications the camera should meet. Purcell said he became involved in the camera program because he was "concerned at the absence from the Apollo program of any plans for scientific photography of the lunar surface except from a considerable distance."
The camera-designed and built by Eastman-Kodak-is simple and automatic. To take a picture, the astronaut just presses a button. He carries the camera attached to a cane, so that it is only a few inches above the surface when the pictures are taken.
Two lenses in the camera enable it to take stereoscopic pictures, Seen through a special viewer, these color pictures appear three-dimensional.
In the pictures taken by Armstrong, scientists have found unusual rocks whose surfaces appear glazed, as if they were once melted.
None of the rocks which Apollo 11 brought to the earth, however, have this strange characteristic. Apollo 12 astronauts therefore have been directed to try to collect samples of these rocks during their two moonwalks.