Rhysling Crater

The Apollo XV astronauts named a number of craters in their landing area after favorite science fiction stories. Near "Dune" (after the Frank Herbert novel) and "Earthlight" (Arthur C. Clarke) craters was "Rhysling" crater, named after the blind singer of the spaceways in "The Green Hills of Earth."

Heinlein was clearly a favorite of the astronauts, as they spent more time trying to locate "Rhysling" exactly than any other crater, and quoted from Heinlein's story just before liftoff. They intended to read a bit of "Green Hills of Earth" when they found the crater, but the exigencies of lunar exploration kept it from happening. To squeeze it in, capcom Joe Allen told them it was "come home again to the homes of men, to the cool green hills of Earth."

(For a complete transcript of Apollo 15's lunar communications, as well as more photos and video clips, see the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal.)

Lunar nearside showing Apollo landing sites

This image shows the location of all six Apollo lunar mission landing sites, including Apollo 15 at Hadley Rille (top center).

Detail of Apollo 15 landing site and traverses

This image shows the Apollo 15 landing site, along with the paths of the major traverses (excursions) in the lunar rover. Rhysling crater, which was passed on the first excursion, is at center.

Although the astronauts (David Scott and James Irwin) were unable to locate the crater during their travels, they spent more time trying to locate this feature than any other. Their mentions of Dune and Earthlight craters, both of which they spotted (and the former of which they stopped and took samples from) are much briefer.

Unknown to the astronauts, they actually stopped and made an unauthorized collection of a sample immediately adjacent to Rhysling (at the small circle indicated on the return traverse line).

Detail of Rhysling crater

This image shows details of the three "science fiction" craters named by Apollo 15 Capcom Joe Allen.

  "...your range to Rhysling is about one-seven..."
    Click here to hear Houston capcom Joe Allen directing the lunar astronauts to Rhysling crater.
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