Although Apollo 11 had made an almost embarassingly imprecise landing well outside the designated target area, Apollo 12 succeeded, on November 19, in making a pin-point landing in the Ocean of Storms, within walking distance of the Surveyor 3 probe, which had landed there in April 1967. The astronauts remained on the moon for thirty-one and a half hours, collecting samples and retrieving parts of the unmanned probe for study.
To improve the quality of television pictures from the moon, a color camera was carried on Apollo 12 (unlike the monochrome camera that was used on Apollo 11). Unfortunately, when Bean carried the camera to the place near the lunar module where it was to be set up, he inadvertently pointed it directly into the Sun, destroying the vidicon tube. Television coverage of this mission was thus terminated almost immediately.
In 2002, a rocket stage from the mission was recaptured by the Earth's gravitational field, after being in a heliocentric orbit since 1971. The rocket stage is projected to leave Earth orbit again in 2003, with a very small chance of hitting either Earth or the Moon.
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|Apollo program||Followed by :