Working on the Moon Banner

Apollo Lens Brush

Copyright © 2007 by the Editors of Working on the Moon.
Last revised 18 July 2012.

Apollo 13 Lens Brush

NASA Image S70-32726 is a pre-flight photo of the Lens Brush flown on Apollo 13.
Scan courtesy NASA Johnson.  (Click on the iamge for a larger version.)

Lens Brush Descprition

Description of the Lens Brush from NASA's Handbook of Pilot Operational Equipment. Scan courtesy Ulli Lotzmann.

The lens brush was first flown on Apollo 13 and first used on Apollo 14.

The following comes from the early stage of Apollo 15 EVA-2:

142:51:19 Scott: There. Get the lens brush out. Try to take care of those lens. (Pause) Hey, that works pretty good.

142:51:31 Irwin: Work good?

142:51:32 Scott: Man, does it ever. Bright and shiny.

The following is from the Apollo 15 Technical Debrief:
[Scott, from the 1971 Technical Debrief - "We used the lens brushes on the cameras, and they were very good."]

[Irwin, from the 1971 Technical Debrief - "On the TV, also."]

[Scott, from the 1971 Technical Debrief - "On the TV also. That lens brush is really a good brush. It cleaned it off very well. The (large) dust brush to clean off the suits seemed to work pretty good. It got the gross dirt off. It didn't get everything. I guess it also worked quite well on the LRV and the LCRU mirrors. (It) cleaned them off pretty well."]

[Scott, from a 1996 letter - "'Lens brush' and 'dust brush' are specific nomenclature to identify the different brushes."]

References to the Lens Brush


Phase or Activity

Time, Image, or Source


Apollo 14
EVA-2 close-out
Al Shepard cleans the TV lens after catching the cable with his foot and toppling the camera.
Apollo 14
EVA-2 MET loading
Al uses the lens brush to clean the traverse map after dropping it.
Apollo 14
EVA-2 MET loading
Al uses the lens brush again, possibly to clean the 16-mm DAC (Data Acquisition Camera)
Apollo 14

Mission Report Page 9-11
"The little dust that accumulated on the modular equipment transporter could easily be removed by brushing. The lunar map collected dust and required brushing or rubbing with a glove to make the map useable."

Apollo 15
Station 1 at Elbow Crater
When Ed Fendell pans the TV camera up-Sun, the view degrades because of light scattered off dust on the lens.  During the 1991 mission review, Dave Scott commented that a lens cap might have been appropriate.  While reviewing the TV at 122:26:09, he commented that Houston should have had them dust the lens.
Apollo 15 Station 2 122:41:58 While he and Jim Irwin are examining the Station 2 boulder, Dave suggests that, "We ought to check the dust on the lens of these (Hasselblad) cameras."  They don't do so at this time.  At 122:46:50 Dave asks Jim, "Is my (Hasselblad) lens too dirty to use?"  Jim replies, "I don't see any dust on it at all."  At 123:16:17, Jim is about to take a second pan and wonders if there is a lot of dust on his lens.  Dave replied, "Didn't look bad, Jim.  I just looked at it."  They are becoming conscious of the need to examine the camera lenses.
Apollo 15 EVA-1 ALSEP deployment 124:32:29 After Dave parks at the ALSEP deployment site and turns on the TV, we see that the lens is dusty.  During the 1991 mission review for the ALSJ, Dave again commented that Houston should have told the crew to dust the lens.  That won't happen until they reach Station 6, their first EVA-2 geology stop.
Apollo 15
EVA-2 traverse preparations
Dave uses the lens brush to clean the Hasselblad lens: "Hey, that works pretty good ... Bright and shiny ... I'll tell you that lens brush really does the trick."  They had not brushed the Hasselblad lenses during EVA-1.  The A16 and A17 crews will check their lenses regularly.
Apollo 15 Station 6 143:55:47 Shortly after Dave and Jim arrive at Station 6, CapCom Joe Allen asks them to dust the TV lens but then defers the request until 144:41:42, at the end of the Station.  Jim will dust both the TV and LCRU a few minutes later, at 144:48:14 just before they leave Station 6.  At that time, he uses the big dust brush to clean the LCRU and then  uses the lens brush on the TV lens.  Fendell gets TV of both.   Jim does the TV lens cleaning at about 144:49:43.  The improvement in picture quality is significant.  Because Jim isn't sure which brush they should use on the TV lens, he asks Dave before doing anything.
Apollo 15 Station 7 at Spur Crater 145:32:05 Since the time Jim cleaned the TV lens at Station 6, they have driven only 400-500 meters at low speed.  There doesn't appear to be much dust on the TV lens.
Apollo 15
LM after EVA-2 Traverse
Joe wants Dave to clean the LCRU and the TV. Dave asks if they want the lens brushed or the mirror on the top.  Joe confirms that they want the lens cleaned.  "All righty. It takes a couple different brushes. I hate to put this big brush on that lens." Joe replies "You read it correctly."
Apollo 15
Technical Debrief extract
Mention of using the lens brush on the Hasselblad cameras and the TV.  Dave said," That lens brush is really a good brush.  It cleaned (the TV) off very well."
Apollo 15 EVA-3 traverse preparations 164:02:07 Dave and Jim clean each other's Hasselblad lens.
Apollo 15
Station 9a at Hadley Rille
Joe requests that they dust the TV lens.  We see Dave in the TV record doing the dusting.  There was considerable dust on the lens at Station 9, as can be seen in the TV record at 165:02:51.
Apollo 15 EVA-3 close-out 167:26:33 Joe tells Dave to take both the large dust brush and the lens brush to the VIP site.  The TV camera is getting hot and they hope that brushing the radiator and lens will help.

Apollo 16
After a fall, Charlie uses the lens brush on the Hasselblad he is using.  John is using the other camera and checks that lens.  "It looks clean."
Apollo 16
Station 4
Charlie notices that the TV lens needs dusting.  He gets the lens bursh from under John's seat and cleans the lens
Apollo 16
Station 8
John uses the lens brush to clean Charlie's Hasselblad lens.
Apollo 16
Final LRV parking place
CapCom Tony England specifically asks John to use the lens brush to clean the TV (aka "Gotcha") lens.  Charlie does the dusting at 170:44:30, after a reminder from Tony
Apollo 16
Station 1

EVA-1 Close-out

Station 6

Station 8

Station 9

Station 10

Station 13






 (All)  John uses the dustbrush - rather than the lens brush - on the TV lens.

Apollo 17
Cabin Prep for EVA-1
LM Lunar Surface Checklist page 2-1
They stow two lens brushes in the Equipment Transfer Bag (ETB).
Apollo 17
LRV deployment 117:43:52 Cernan: "Man, I got so much dust over my visor already, I got to wipe it off.  Get that lens brush; I want you to dust me off a little later, Jack."

Jack is incredulous, thinking that the lens brush is much too small to use on Gene's visor.  Capcom Bob Parker hurriedly jumps in to tell them NOT to use the dustbrush or a glove.
Apollo 17
LRV Loading
Jack stows the two lens brushes under Gene's Rover seat.
Apollo 17
LRV Loading
119:03:39 Gene is about to drive the the ALSEP deployment site and still has a dirty visor.  Jack is already out at the ALSEP site, so Gene tries to clean a small part of his visor and only makes matters worse.  Evidence in the TV record indicates that he went around to his seat, probably to get a lens brush.
Apollo 17
EVA-1 Close-out
While packing the ETB with used film magazines and loose rocks, Jack says, "Let's see.  We better take those dust brushes (probably meaning the lens brushes) up there (to the cabin)."  This is a sensible departure from the cuff checklist, given how dirty everything got after they lost a fender.
Apollo 17
Station 2
Even before they get a TV picture, Houston tells the crew that the TV lens will need to be dusted.  When a picture is received, blobs of dust can clearly be seen on the lens.  Jack gets a lens brush from under Gene's seat and hands it to Gene.  We get a brief glimpse of it in the TV.  Gene cleans Jack's Haselblad lens and then his own.  Gene dusts the TV lens at 142:50:53
Apollo 17 EVA-2 Close-out
Jack puts the lens brushes in the ETB.
Apollo 17
LRV Final parking place
Cernan: "Bob, how's your TV lens?  I don't have a lens brush.  It looks good from here.  I don't want to use this (big dustbrush) unless you think so."

Houston looks at a patch of bright soil to see if the lens is clean enough and decides that it is.

Return to Table of Contents