Humanity’s first era of Lunar exploration came to a close on this day in 1972, as the crew of Apollo 17 blasted off from the lunar surface. The crew would return to Earth on December 19.
Spending nearly three days in the Taurus-Littrow valley, Jack Schmitt and Gene Cernan collected 264 pounds of rocks and soil over 22 hours of moonwalking.
Schmitt, as Lunar Module Pilot, was the only professional scientist to walk on the Moon, whereas all other Apollo astronauts were pilots with geology training.
Seen in the third image above, Schmitt photographed the landing site shortly before closing the hatch on the Lunar module prior to takeoff.
Many of the Lunar Rover’s tracks can be clearly identified with the orbital imagery taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter more than 40 years later in 2009.
P/C: NASA. Gifs: Age of Destruction.