For the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 17 lunar landing mission, NASA has published a website called “Apollo 17 in Real-time. The Last Mission to the Moon – A real-time journey through the Apollo 17 mission”. You can see the events in real-time either joining at 1 minute before the launch or in progress.

On the website, you can access over 300 hours of audio, over 22 hours of video, and over 4,200 photos, and relive every moment as it occurred in 1972.

Apollo 17: The Last Moon Landing Mission

Apollo 17 Extravehicular Activity
 On December 13, 1972, scientist-astronaut Harrison H. Schmitt (born July 3, 1935) is photographed standing next to a huge, split lunar boulder during the third Apollo 17 extravehicular activity (EVA) at the Taurus-Littrow landing site. The Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), which transported Schmitt and Eugene A. Cernan (March 14, 1934 – January 16, 2017) to this extravehicular station from their Lunar Module (LM), is seen in the background. The mosaic is made from two frames from Apollo 17 Hasselblad magazine 140. The two frames were photographed by Cernan. Photo: NASA
In the image, Schmitt is standing next to “Tracy’s rock”, a large boulder on the Moon named after Cernan’s daughter Tracy, who was nine years old at the time of the mission. It is known as Split Rock or the Station 6 Boulder in the scientific literature.

Apollo 17 was the eleventh and the last crewed space mission in the NASA Apollo program. It was the first night launch of a U.S. human spaceflight and the sixth and final lunar landing mission. The mission was launched at 12:33 a.m. EST on 7 December 1972 and concluded on December 19.

Apollo 17 was also the last time humans traveled beyond low Earth orbit. The mission broke several records: the longest moon landing, longest total extravehicular activities (moonwalks), largest lunar sample, and longest time in lunar orbit.

Scientific objectives of the Apollo 17 mission included geological surveying and sampling of materials and surface features in a preselected area of the Taurus-Littrow region; deploying and activating surface experiments, and conducting in-flight experiments and photographic tasks during lunar orbit and trans-earth coast.

These objectives included deployed experiments, such as the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package, or ALSEP, with a heat flow experiment; lunar seismic profiling, or LSP; the Lunar Surface Gravimeter, or LSG; lunar atmospheric composition experiment, or LACE; and lunar ejecta and meteorites, or LEAM. The mission also included lunar sampling and lunar orbital experiments. Biomedical experiments included the Biostack II experiment and the BIOCORE experiment.

Apollo 17 was the eleventh crewed space mission in the NASA Apollo program. It was the first night launch of a U.S. human spaceflight and the sixth and final lunar landing mission. The mission was launched at 12:33 a.m. EST on 7 December 1972 and concluded on December 19.
One of the last two humans to set foot on the Moon was also the first scientist-astronaut, geologist Harrison (“Jack”) Schmitt. While Evans circled in America, Schmitt and Cernan collected a record 109 lbs (49 kg) of rocks during three Moonwalks. The crew roamed for 34 km (21 mi) through the Taurus-Littrow valley in their rover, discovered orange-colored soil, and left the most comprehensive set of instruments in the ALSEP on the lunar surface. Their mission was the last in the Apollo lunar landing missions. The last 4 Apollo craft were used for the three Skylab missions and the ASTP, mission in 1975.

The Blue Marble

On December 7, 1972, the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft took a photo of Earth from space, at a distance of about 45,000 kilometers (28,000 miles). This image, with the official NASA designation AS17-148-22727, became known as “The Blue Marble“.

In fact, it was not the first clear image of Earth taken from space – similar photos had already been taken as early as 1967. But, the 1970s were the scene of a big surge in environmental activism. For example, on April 22, 1970, the first “Earth Day” was organized by Gaylord Nelson, former senator of Wisconsin, and Denis Hayes, Harvard graduate student. Millions of people gathered in the United States for the event.

So, in today’s terms, image AS17-148-22727 went “viral” and became a symbol of the environmental movement, as a depiction of Earth’s frailty, vulnerability, and isolation amid the vast expanse of space. According to NASA archivist Mike Gentry, it is among the most widely distributed images in human history.

The Blue Marble
 The Blue Marble – Earth as seen by Apollo 17 in 1972. NASA/Apollo 17 crew; taken by either Harrison Schmitt or Ron Evans.
Space race - Moonwalk - Apollo 17 Mission image
 Moonwalk, December 13, 1972 (the last moonwalk eer performed). View of Station Lunar Module, Commander Astronaut Eugene A. Cernan, USA Flag, and Lunar Roving Vehicle. The photo was taken during the third Extravehicular Activity (EVA 3) of the Apollo 17 mission. The original film magazine was labeled E film type was SO-368 Color Exterior, CEX, Ektachrome MS, color reversal 60mm lens with a sun elevation of 36 degrees. Image source: (by NASA)

Apollo 17 Crew

  • Commander: Eugene A. Cernan, Third, and last spaceflight
  • Command Module Pilot: Ronald E. Evans, Only spaceflight
  • Lunar Module Pilot: Harrison H. Schmitt, Only spaceflight
Apollo 17 crew
 The prime crew for the Apollo 17 lunar landing mission is: Commander, Eugene A. Cernan (March 14, 1934 – January 16, 2017) (seated), Command Module pilot Ronald E. Evans (November 10, 1933 – April 7, 1990) (standing on right), and Lunar Module pilot, Harrison H. Schmitt (born July 3, 1935). They have been photographed with a Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) trainer. Cernan and Schmitt will use an LRV during their exploration of the Taurus-Littrow landing site. The Apollo 17 Saturn V Moon rocket is in the background. This picture was taken at Pad A, Launch Complex 39, Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Florida. Image: Wikipedia
Apollo 17 Official Emblem
 The official emblem of the Apollo 17 lunar landing mission. Image: NASA


M. Özgür Nevres
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