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Published November 15, 1968 | Published
Journal Article Open

Lunar surface mechanical properties


The surface material at the Surveyor 5 site is granular and slightly cohesive. Spacecraft footpads plowed trenches in this material as the spacecraft slid during landing. For a compressible soil model, a static bearing capacity of 2.7 newtons/cm^2 gave best agreement with the observations. Static firing of the vernier engines against the surface moved surface particles; a crater 20 cm in diameter and about 1 cm deep was produced, apparently at engine shutdown. The permeability of the soil to gases, to a depth of about 25 cm, is 1 × 10^(−8) cm^2, corresponding to soil particles mostly 2 to 60 μ in diameter.

Additional Information

Copyright 1969 by the American Geophysical Union. (Received March 28, 1968; revised July 15, 1968.) We thank Frank Sperling, JPL, for his major contributions to the section on spacecraft landing analysis and dynamic simulations; Charles Goldsmith, William Peer, Alex Irving, Albert Plescia, and Lloyd Starkes, JPL, for their work on spacecraft shadow predictions and assembly of photographic mosaics; Robert Breshears, John Stocky, and Charles Dodge, for their vernier engine performance analyses; and Dave Conaway, Margaret Dove, and John Hinchey, Hughes Aircraft Company, for assisting in the landing dynamic simulations.

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