The commander of the twelve and one half day, apollo 17 mission is 38 year old eugene cernan from chicago illinois is trying to put together. The cernan has already flown twice before on germany, 9 and apollo 10. time to come to be written of all of our lunar exploration. We hope that geologically speaking we’ll be able to uncover rock types and different types of geologic finds that date back from the very beginning of the moon, the moon’s history. To the to the present time, and, of course, the major objective here scientifically is to be better, better able to understand our own earth, our own evolution of of life as our earth knows it our own environment and maybe better predict what has happened and what might Happen in the future concerning civilization here on earth 37 year old, scientist astronaut dr harrison schmidt. A geologist schmidt is a native of santa rita new mexico, as in any major exploration program, whether it was the expiration of the american west or the exploration of antarctica are now the exploration of the moon and the planets in general. Now it’s searching and expecting to find the unexpected, and that is really almost invariably. What turns out to be the major payoff we won’t know it for 1500 years, but some of the things that we are finding and will find that were completely unexpected, that we didn’t plan to find will will almost certainly be the most important things in the eyes Of the history of science, and very probably in the eyes of history of man, maybe a distinction.

Forty year old ronald evans was born in saint francis kansas. It is evans who will carry out the orbital science experiments in the command module, while his two companions explore the lunar surface, in other words, uh. Almost all of the geologic interpretation that goes on on the moon has been done from photographs and each person that does this mapping or interpretation uh. They do it from the photograph. The photographs uh are not as good as they really. You know they’re not as good as the eye. Let’S put it that way, so each person that does it generally asks himself a lot more questions than he can really answer from what he can see down there. Hopefully, i will be able to answer those questions. Five times the united states has landed astronauts on the moon. Apollo 17 will land here, an area known as taurus littrow. This is an artist concept of the taurus littrow landing site, just topographically speaking it’s sort of a box canyon surrounded by mountains on three sides. In a a cliff that was either formed by an earthquake or by lava flows or by some other across means front of this canyon, we have a landslide that comes off one of the mountains on the left that at least we think it’s a landslide, and it Has some rubble that is true and across our landing site across some of the craters just in front of where we’re going to land so it’s very, very challenging from a pilot point of view and it’s very interesting from a geologic point of view, because we hope That there may be up to four uh different uh types of materials, geologic fines, you might call them uh from four different uh uh periods of the moon’s history from the very beginning to possibly the what we call the present time, the view out astronaut cernan’s window.

As he makes, the final descent for landing should look like this practice, landing recorded from a simulator at the kennedy space center. The first thing, i’m gon na see, of course, as soon as we pitch over is a there’s, a seven thousand foot mountain that stands right out in front of me on the almost dead ahead and another seven thousand foot mountain that’s off to the right out of Jack’S window, then we will not see the mountains we just came over because we will just have passed them, but across between these two mountains in front of us they’ll be about a 300 foot cliff and then several craters, a landslide uh in front of this uh Cliff that i’m describing and uh i’m going to be particularly looking for one large crater it’s, almost 2000 feet across, and so you get a feel how big that really is – and i want to land just short just in front of that particular crater. Cernan and schmidt will spend some three days on the moon. This includes three seven hour evas during the first near the lunar module they will unpack and deploy the scientific instruments and unfold the lunar rover their moon transportation. Later they will drive out about two miles in the first field: geology excursion as part of the next seven hour exploration. They will travel to the farthest point, almost five miles from the lunar module and up a 300 foot cliff. The third and final exploration will take them on a strictly geology field trip in the opposite direction.

All of the traverses will be televised from the moon in color jack schmidt. The first scientist to travel to the moon feels that his assignment is a logical, next step and so uh. I don’t feel myself very unusual uh in the respective of being a scientist, because we’ve had specialists before and i’m i’m really a geologist going to the moon and we’ve got other types of scientists going on the skylab program, a physicist, solar physicist, a doctor, a medical Doctor and we’re just gradually evolving a phase of the exploration of space, where we’re now trying to apply specialties to the particular problems we have to deal with and in the case of exploring the far frontiers of of space or or of any geographic environment. If you will, a geologist has an advantage because that’s what he does that’s his livelihood and that’s what he’s he’s been doing most of his life and hopefully uh. We open up with this the possibilities of applying other specialists to other problems and which we are doing jack schmidt will have an opportunity to examine the effects of the sun on a wide cross section of lunar soil and rocks ranging in age from very recent to Samples billions of years old, uh, obviously i’m enthusiastic about the total potential of the site to look into the two major questions. That is understanding the earth better through the moon and its early history and understanding the sun better through the exposure of its soils to the sun and then, of course, there’s.

This other thing of the unexpected and who knows what that’s going to be and that’s really what makes it exciting one of the new experiments ron evans will carry out. As he circles the moon is with a radar like device called the lunar sounder. So what do you get out of that lunar? Sounder? You know other than the fact it zaps a wave down and comes back how it comes back and with what frequency shifts and phase angle shifts and whatever happens in the you know in the radar people are able to determine what kind of rocks are down there. What kind of material is down there? Is there any water? Is there subterranean water below the lunar surface? We don’t know if it’s down there, the lunar sander will find it coming back from the moon. Astronaut evans will go outside the spacecraft to prepare himself for this job. He practices for short periods of zero gravity in an airplane and for extended times neutrally buoyant underwater. The eva is primarily designed, first of all, to retrieve the film that’s back in the uh simba. The two cameras, the pan camera and the map and camera of course, have film cassettes. The lunar sounder, its basic information, is uh recorded on film. These cassettes are in the sim bay and, of course, the only piece of the whole booster that comes back into the earth’s atmosphere at lands is only that little command module up on the top.

So somehow we’ve got to get the film cassettes back into the command, module and that’s the purpose of the epa. We asked dr william finney chief of the mann spacecraft center’s geology branch to describe some of the things we’re learning as a result of the moon landings. Well, one can say that the early history of the earth is pretty well obscured by erosion and various atmospheric and effects of water that we know exists on earth, but on the moon. We do not have these problems to contend with. Therefore, we are seeing the the surface features and the rocks in a state which probably has been similar since the time of the formation of the moon. Therefore, we can probably infer that the early history of the earth was somewhat similar. However, it’s been modified by the effects of water and atmosphere and the erosion and weathering effects that we know take place. So what we probably are able to work with in the sampling and study of the moon is a similar picture to what the early history of the earth was like. If we can ferret out the various things that the moon is trying to tell us, it may well tell us how the planetary bodies in the solar system formed at the beginning and and help us in the the whole problem of planetary development mission. 17. Is the last in the apollo series of lunar landings, we asked the crew how they look upon this final flight assignment and what apollo means to them.

What apollo has done has taken men from the environment in which they evolved and put them in an environment. That is, is orders of magnitude different than any environment. That life is ever that we know of has ever existed, and this has to be considered an evolutionary step. I think it’s it’s that mankind will continue that evolution will continue to explore and challenge himself on this earth frontier. At the present time we put that frontier on the moon. We are retrenching a little bit now. I do not think it’s it’s for any significant amount of time and we’re going to start to do what was done in the days of the west. After the mountain men and after the army explorers we’re, starting to put the farmers and the miners. The practical utilizers of space into space. What is the one thing? The one thing in the last decade that has increased the esteem of our nation, the united states in the eyes of the rest of the world. The one thing has been our participation in the space program. The whole world looks to the united states to lead to go their accomplishments in the space program and to me that’s, a very, very important thing. We felt certainly at apollo 17, in spite of the fact that it will it’s the last flight in the apollo program is really not the end, but rather the beginning, it’s it’s sort of a conclusion of the culmination of what we consider man’s greatest achievement.

Certainly in our lifetime and looking in the future, these achievements and the potentials of them have literally no bombs.