Our last mission to the moon

Apollo 17th was the last of the Apollo missions to land on the moon. It landed on December 11th 1972. Luna 2 was the first spacecraft to reach the moons surface successfully, intentionally impacting the Moon on 13 September 1959. In 1966, Luna 9 was the first spacecraft to achieve a controlled landing, Luna 10 became the first mission to enter orbit.

Between 1968 and 1972, many manned missions to the Moon were conducted by the United States as part of the Apollo program. Apollo 8 was the first manned mission to enter orbit in December 1968, and was followed by Apollo 10 in May 1969. Six missions actually landed men on the Moon, beginning with Apollo 11 in July 1969, this was the mission where Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the Moon. Apollo 13 was intended to land but it was restricted to a flyby due to a malfunction aboard the spacecraft. All nine manned missions returned safely to the Earth.

Other missions to the Moon have been conducted by the Soviet Union, United States, European Space Agency, Japan, India and the People’s Republic of China. The Moon has been visited by five spacecraft not dedicated to studying it, ther have been four spacecraft that have flown past it to gain gravity assists, and a radio telescope, Explorer 49, was placed into selenocentric orbit in order to use the Moon to block interference from terrestrial radio sources.

While the United States in the past focused on the manned Apollo program, the Soviet Union conducted many unmanned missions that deployed rovers and returned samples to the Earth. Three rover missions were launched, two of these were successful, eleven sample return flights were attempted with three successes.

The Moon has only been walked on by 12 people, The first man to set foot on the Moon in 1969 was Neil Armstrong on the Apollo 11 mission. Since 1972 the Moon has only be visited by unmanned vehicles.

Apollo 11th was not only our final Moon landing, but the last time we left low Earth orbit. Gene Cernan was the last man to walk on the moon. Apollo 17’s crew was Commander Eugene A. Cernan, Command Module Pilot Ronald E. Evans and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison P. Schmitt. When it came time to select the final crew, Schmitt was chosen over Joe Engle, who was a backup pilot for Apollo 14 and ordinarily would have been next in the rotation to fly. Crewmates Ron Evans and Eugene Cernan were upset at first that Eagle was not chosen.

As the pilot of NASA’s seventh Gemini Flight which was a three day mission in Earth orbit, the space ship rendezvoused but failed to dock with an unmanned target vehicle, Cernan became only the second American astronaut to go out on an extra-vehicular activity. The two-hour spacewalk nearly cost him his life.

Harrison Schmitt earned his PhD in Geology from Harvard University in 1964, he had worked for the United States Geological Survey and also at Harvard University before going through Astronaut training in 1965. Apollo 17 was Schmitt’s first mission into space, he would be the first scientist to step on the surface of the Moon. Eugene ‘Gene’ Cernan was a veteran astronaut who had first flown into space with the Gemini IX-A mission in 1966, he later served as the Lunar Module Pilot for the Apollo 10 mission in May of 1969, where he came within 90 miles of the Lunar surface.

The astronauts on this mission deployed several scientific experiments, most notably a traverse gravimeter. The astronauts carried this experiment on the rover and took it out at several sites to measure the relative gravity, which gave scientists an idea about the lunar substructure.

The Apollo 17 astronauts left behind a plaque that read: “Here Man completed his first exploration of the Moon, December 1972 A.D. May the spirit of peace in which we came be reflected in the lives of all mankind.”

Evans went out for a quick spacewalk on the way back to Earth, retrieving some film canisters mounted outside America. The crew splashed down Dec. 19 in the South Pacific Ocean.

The 22 hours of lunar exploration Apollo 17 performed pushed Apollo to its limit. The astronauts drove around about 34 kilometers in the lunar rover. They brought back 108 kilograms of lunar rocks.

The Moon gets hit by about 2800 kg of meteor material per day.
The surface area of the Moon is about 37.9 million square kilometers. If we distribute our 100,000 meteorites over that area, we get one meteorite for every 379 square kilometers. That’s an area a little larger than Canton, Ohio or Glasgow, Scotland.

The Apollo 11 crew wandered around the Moon in an area of about 752 square meters. If we divide 379 square km by 752 square meters we get 503,718.

That means that if the Apollo 11 crew had stayed on the Moon 503,718 days (1,380 years), odds are that meteorite would come down somewhere in the area the astronauts roamed.

Below: Commander Gene Cernan

Commander Gene Cernan was a formal Navy pilot. He had faced many a crisis in space. On his first flight, Gemini 9 he did a spacewalk that exhausted him because there weren’t enough handholds to perform his work in microgravity. On his second flight, Apollo 10, the lunar module briefly spun unpredictably as it did a practice descent to the surface.U.S. Gene Cernan, known as the “last man on the moon,” died on Monday 01/16/2017. He was 82.

Below: Commander Eugene A. Cernan, Command Module Pilot Ronald E. Evans and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison P. Schmitt.

“So, you know about that spacewalk from hell,” stated Cernan in a 2007 NASA interview in which he wa referring to his Gemini 9 EVA on June 5, 1966. He found it difficult to bend wearing a pressurized spacesuit, Cernan struggled to maneuver outside the two-seat space capsule and tumbling uncontrollably while trailing an umbilical. Lacking the handrails were to become common on later spacecraft, Cernan climbed to the aft of the Gemini to test the Astronaut Maneuvering Unit, this was a early predecessor to the jetpacks astronauts used in the years to come.

Cernan’s AMU flight was apparently not to be. The cooling system for his spacesuit overheated and this caused his helmet’s faceplate to fog. He had no way to wipe it clear and he could not see. Exhausted and practically blind from the ordeal, Cernan finally managed to find his way back to his seat and with the hep of another crew member he re-entered the spacecraft.

After orbiting the Earth 47 times during the course of three days in space, Cernan and Stafford splashed down safely and they were recovered by the USS Wasp aircraft carrier on June 6, 1966.

The Moon (or Luna) is the Earth’s only natural satellite and was formed 4.6 billion years ago around some 30–50 million years after the formation of the solar system.

The primary scientific objective of Apollo 17 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 transearth coast.” In all our trips to the moon almost 6000 pictures were taken, the actual number was 5771. A total of 4834 minutes were spent on the moon, which means there was one photo taken every 50 seconds that we spent on the moon.

With the latter Apollo missions so focused on science — and with a geologist on board — much consideration went into choosing Taurus-Littrow as Apollo 17’s destination. It was geologic variety that tilted the decision to that location. Points of interest to scientists included Shorty Crater — believed to hold evidence of past volcanic vent — and several large boulders spotted in photographs taken by the Apollo 15 crew.

A minor technical error held up launch of Apollo 17 by almost three hours, but the crew lifted off as planned Dec. 7, 1972. Cernan and Schmitt landed on the surface on lunar module Challenger three days later without major incident, while Evans stayed in the command module, America.

Past Missions to the Moon:

Past missions: Pioneer 0 – Luna 1958A – Pioneer 1 – Luna 1958B – Pioneer 2 – Luna1958C – Pioneer 3 – Luna 1 – Luna 1959A – Pioneer 4 – Luna 2 – Luna 3 – Pioneer P-3 – Ranger 1 – Ranger 2 – Ranger 3 – Ranger 4 – Ranger 5 – Sputnik 25 – Luna 4 – Ranger 6 – Ranger 7 – Ranger 8 – Ranger 9 – Luna 5 – Luna 6 – Zond 3 – Luna 7 – Luna 8 – Luna 9 – Cosmos 111 – Luna 10 – Surveyor 1 – Lunar Orbiter 1 – Luna 11 – Surveyor 2 – Luna 12 – Lunar Orbiter 2 – Luna 13 – Lunar Orbiter 3 – Surveyor 3 – Lunar Orbiter 4 – Surveyor 4 – Lunar Orbiter 5 – Surveyor 5 – Surveyor 6 – Surveyor 7 – Luna 14 – Zond 5 – Zond 6 – Apollo 8 – Zond 1969A – Luna 1969A – Zond L1S-1 – Luna 1969B – Apollo 10 – Luna 1969C – Luna 15 – Apollo 11 – Zond 7 – Cosmos 300 – Cosmos 305 – Apollo 12 – Apollo 13 – Luna 16 – Zond 8 – Luna 17 / Lunokhod 1 – Apollo 14 – Apollo 15 – Luna 18 – Luna 19 – Luna 20 – Apollo 16 – Soyuz L3 – Apollo 17 – Luna 21 / Lunokhod 2 – Luna 22 – Luna 23 – Luna 24 – Hiten (MUSES A) – Clementine – Lunar Prospector – SMART-1 – Kaguya (SELENE) – Chang’e 1 – Chandrayaan-1 – LCROSS – GRAIL – LADEEu

The Moon:

The moon is not a planet, but a satellite of the Earth.

The surface area of the moon is 14,658,000 square miles or 9.4 billion acres

Only 59% of the moon’s surface is visible from earth.

The moon rotates at 10 miles per hour compared to the earth’s rotation of 1000 miles per hour.

When a month has two full moons, the second full moon is called a blue moon. Another definition of a blue moon is the third full moon in any season (quarter of year) containing 4 total full moons.

From Earth, we always see the same side of the moon; the other side is always hidden.

The dark spots we see on the moon that create the image of the man in the moon are actually craters filled with basalt, which is a very dense material.

The moon is the only extraterrestrial body that has ever been visited by humans.

The first space craft to send back pictures from the moon was Luna 3 (built by the Soviet Union) in October 1959.

The moon has no global magnetic field.

The moon’s diameter is about 1/4 the diameter of the Earth. About 49 moons would fit inside the Earth.























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