21 JULY 1969

The NASA Apollo 11 Preliminary Science Report SP-214 was published by October 1969. Chapter 10 is a report "The Modified Dust Detector in the Early Apollo Scientific Package",  J.R.Bates, S.C. Freden and B.J. O'Brien which is incorrect in 3 important details:

1.       It  claims "A preliminary analysis of data .. showed no appreciable degradation caused by dust or debris from the LM ascent;" In fact, there was significant dust degradation, as published by the same three authors in a new report with digital measurements in the Journal of Atmospheric Physics, October, 1970; The dust caused the Passive Seismometer and the EASEP electronics to overheat by over 50 degrees Fahrenheit more than the planned maximum temperature (see Hess and Calio, page 2).

2.       It includes Figures 10-3 and 10-4 labelled as data obtained for the first lunar day, July 1969. In fact these data, marked at intervals of 10 hours with straight lines connecting the dots, were from data obtained on the second lunar day, in August not July; a comparison of the two charts is shown elsewhere in this website in


3.       This SP-214 includes B.J. O'Brien as a co-author. In fact, Professor O'Brien strongly disagreed with Freden in the first few weeks off August 1969, before digital tape of the first data had been shipped to him in Sydney y MSC in Houston.  O'Brien had analog flight data from the science room at Houston Manned Spacecraft Center air mailed  to him  at the University of Sydney. It appears from the two NASA reports below that their authors may have been reading two sets of data tapes, one in July, 1969,  the other in August, 1969. O'Brien did not give permission for his name to be included as co-author of the incorrect report.

The two NASA reports here show that the text of the Preliminary Science report by Bates and Freden deleted the references to significant dust degradation reported by Bates on 8 August, 1969. O'Brien, in Sydney, referred also to another Bendix report showing more sophisticated analyses by Bendix, including a comparison of Cell #3 output versus the output calculated by Bendix preflight of temperature effects on Cell #3 voltage for two hypothetical temperatures of 50 and 100 degrees C.

O'Brien concluded vigorously that there was significant degradation of two out of three solar cells. On 18 September, 1969, O'Brien despairingly wrote and distributed his sardonic ballad about 2 out of 3.

Operationally, he sent his opinions to NASA headquarters. Apollo 12 was deployed 130m  from LM, as contrasted with the 17m for Apollo 11. He included them in the new Apollo 11 report published in Journal of Atmospheric Physics in October 1970.

On the grounds that Dr O'Brien disagreed with the report on Apollo 11 SP-214, O'Brien was invited by Dr Freden and by the NASA Editor of the Apollo 12 Preliminary Science Report to submit a report on the Dust Detector Experiment for that second mission. The short deadline (44 days instead of nominal 90 days) did not enable digital DDE data from the Second Lunar Day to be available. His report included comment on both Apollo 11 and 12 dust data and was submitted on schedule. It was not published. No other report on this dust experiment was published in any NASA Preliminary Science Report of either Apollo 14 or 15. Although Goddard Spaceflight Center published several Posters at AGU and other conferences in 2012 and 2013 about dust experiment data then included in archives, no peer-reviewed publications on such data by GSFC authors are known at this time.  

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Figure 1: Evidence of Measurements (shown in Blue) in NASA MSC Preliminary Mission Report (14 August 1969) omitted in MSC Preliminary Science report (21 August 1969). Note PSR signed only by Freden and Bates. O'Brien strongly expressed his disagreement with both NASA reports which he received in Sydney in one envelope from Freden 23 August 1969 (see O'Brien Progress Report #2, 15 August 1969 below). Attachment of O'Brien's name as co-author to the Apollo 11 Preliminary Science Report NASA SP-214 was without his permission. In October 1970 O'Brien was lead author publishing the correct measurements in the Journal of Applied Physics. However, it remained unclear why the NASA Figures were incorrect. The answer is very elementary, an administrative mistake - the NASA measurements above signed on August 21 were made on August 20, 1969, a month after the Apollo Lunar Module and Armstrong and Aldrin had left the Moon (see below).


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