c. Section 3

(Continued from Chapter 12, Section 2):


Traverse to Station 9

“Okay, Bob. 240,” Cernan confirmed the heading. This meant that Station 9 at Van Serg Crater lay a little south and west of Station 8 (see §2, Fig. 12.160↑).

“Bob, I think your rake sample here at the Sculptured Hills is going to have to tell the tale [about this unit], combined with the observation that most of the blocks we saw were, like (the one) Gene sampled, [or] looked like subfloor gabbro. It’s conceivable that the Sculptured Hills could be the same kind of material. I think it’s fairly clear that the boulder population does not resemble the [North or South] Massif [boulder] population at all.” Here, I was comparing the combination of the plagioclase-orthopyroxene boulder and the basalt fragments we sampled with the probable impact breccias of Stations 2, 6 and 7.

[As noted above in connection with samples 78235, 78236 and 78238 of the norite boulder, the probable real story of the Sculptured Hills as remnants of an Mg-suite pluton ejected from Imbrium would await the accumulated data and thinking stimulated by recent image and remote sensing missions around the Moon (Chapter 13).]

A few seconds later, I burst out with a laugh. Finally, Cernan had to experience being on the downhill side of the Rover as we headed back west across the regolith apron of the Sculptured Hills.

“You been riding on this down-slope all the time!?!” he exclaimed, to my continued laughter.

“Yes, but…”

“And you hadn’t said anything, huh?”

“Scary, isn’t it?” I noted.

“Man, I’m glad I’m driving!” he said and joined in the laughter.

“And Jack,” Parker called, “when you’re not holding on with two hands, we’d like the frame count from you.”

“Wait a minute. Yeah. …[Gene,] is that Van Serg over there?”


“[Van Serg] Should have a bearing of 234 and a range of 2.1,” Parker noted, helpfully.

“I think it’s [over there],” Cernan said, pointing toward the east rim of Cochise as he headed southeast to get around SWP Crater.

“I don’t know. …No…it’s [to the left of that].”

“We got to get around SWP  here and then [maybe we can see it]. Well, that’s [in the way], and then head on more westerly.”

“LMP frame is at 80.”

“SWP…or Bowen, I mean. …Bowen, I guess that is.”

“Well…that’s SWP over there,” I noted, pointing to the right. “Bowen is out here ahead of us.”

“Yeah. …Guess he (Parker) said…225? What did you say, Bob? 225 what?

Bowen isn’t much of a crater on the map,” I observed, meaning it looks more formidable close-up than it had been mapped.

“234 / 2.1,” came up from Parker, but we were not reading him well through the Challenger communications system.

“234 …,” I repeated, hesitantly.

“Heading ought to be about 240; 240 for a heading for there…”

“Did you hear him?” Cernan asked. “I didn’t hear him.”

“240 [heading]. Are you not reading him?” I asked.

“But what did he say for bearing and range? That’s what I’m interested in.” Cernan wanted to “fly” an arc to a point rather than try to follow a heading to that point.

“2…3…4…2 point 1,” Parker said again, slowly.

“240. State bearing and range, Bob,” I asked on top of his call.

“Okay. I got that,” Cernan said.

“And we think you’re even farther north than I was saying,” Parker added, trying to clarify. “Maybe it’s about 215 would be your heading for there.”

“Okay, Bob. I’ll find it. 234/2.1.” Trying to stay on a heading, with all these large craters between us and Van Serg, would be more difficult than just working our way to a point defined by bearing and range from the SEP transmitter site.

“And all the big blocks still look like subfloor from the Rover,” I told Parker. “But ‘big blocks’ in here are only about a third of a meter in diameter. And they’re sub-rounded to sub-angular. Okay. We’re out on the plains again now, just off the break in slope [from the Sculptured Hills].”

Fig. 12.181a. Because there has been some confusion over the location of Bowen Crater in various later maps, including editorial statements in the ALSJ, possibly because we showed some confusion between SWP and Bowen craters coming down from Station 8, this figure illustrates where the crater I named for the noted petrologist Norman Bowen is actually located. As I noted a few lines above, “Bowen isn’t much of a crater on the map”.  Although it is ~200 m in diameter, it has roughly only a very shallow 10 m depth; and it is difficult to see from ground level. It was correctly marked on our cuff checklist map between SWP and Smith craters (Fig. 12.181b, below). However, the notation “Bowen-Apollo” underneath “SWP” in the LROC Featured Sites traverse map above was not named or used by me. For a larger view in a separate window, click here. (Base map from Apollo 17 LROC Featured Sites traverse).

Fig. 12.181b. The sketch map on our cuff checklist. We, of course, did not go to Smith; but rather from Station 8 at the lower right of SWP (marked by the red ‘x’), weaving in and out around small craters passing SWP towards and around Cochise to Station 9 at Van Serg, the small oval right of Gatsby. North is to the right. (LMP/CDR-20, in the ALSJ).

Fig. 12.182a. Coming down off the slope from the Sculptured Hills, there are only a few moderately-sized boulders such as the two angular ones seen here. The East Massif (left) and Bear Mountain (right) are in the background. (NASA photo AS17-142-21750).

Fig. 12.182b. Further down, the regolith surface lacks these larger boulders until we get closer to the ejecta blankets of Cochise and Van Serg, in particular. (NASA photo AS17-142-21754).

[My traverse photos AS17-142-21746-51, in addition to having the South Massif and Bear Mountain as a backdrop, show a very mature regolith surface that is almost devoid of rocks larger than a few centimeters in average diameter. This would be a surface developed on the ejecta blanket around SWP and Cochise Craters.

From Cochise, we could drive directly to Station 9 and Van Serg Crater (AS17-142-21783-90), the latter being also situated on the ejecta blanket of Shakespeare. Although we could visually identify the relatively dark rim of Van Serg, the traverse photos primarily show the concentration of rock and breccia fragments around the crater.]

“That stuff sure looks like outcrop down in the East Massif on the lower slopes,” observed Cernan as he steered south around SWP, “where the high (low) albedo is. Doesn’t it? See it over there?” (This outcrop area is shown in AS17-146-22367, (Fig. 12.147↑, §2), just over the SEP antenna; and also in Fig. 12.182a↑ above, just left of the central reseau cross.)

Yeah. Yeah; it does. …It (the outcrop area) was one of my guidelines for the geophone deployment…[I mean] guide points…There’s some more of that blue-gray rock there on the east end of the South Massif, down low.”

“Yep.” Cernan headed more to the southwest as we passed SWP Crater.

Fig. 12.183. In this turn to avoid craters, the outcrops along the East Massif have been brought into stark focus as has some of the layering at the left and middle parts of the massif. Later LROC photos show these outcrops to be collections of very large boulders like the examples given in the next two figures. (NASA photo AS17-142-21752).

Fig. 12.184. A vertical view of the top of the East Massif foothill seen in the previous figure, right of middle, on a line directly above the TV camera. The largest boulder in the image measures ~56 m across the diagonal, upper left to lower right. This LROC photo resolution is 1.23 m/px, and the reader can access it at: https://bit.ly/3oFBNPM. (NASA LROC QuickMap photo).

Fig. 12.185. Another view of the boulders in the outcrop at the top of the East Massif above the second foothill to the left in Fig. 12.183. The largest boulder here is only ~25 m across. The LROC photo resolution is 1.3 m/px and the reader can access it at https://bit.ly/2LqKtLr. (NASA LROC QuickMap photo).

[Because of the need to drive southeast around SWP Crater, photographs AS17-142-21751-56 include the apparent large rock outcrops on a hill near the south end of the East Massif as well as the East Massif itself. The smooth slopes of Bear Mountain are visible in several of these images.]

“It (the east end of the South Massif) looks like it might have been a slump block or something,” I noted, looking to the southwest (AS17-142-21755).

Fig. 12.186. The east end of the South Massif with Bear Mountain to the left (above the TV camera). Note the bright line on the east slope near the horizon of the South Massif as it intersects the darker west slope of Bear Mountain marked by the black arrow. This may be the southernmost end of a possible slump block off the eastern slope. On the other hand, this hill may be a feature similar to Bear Mountain. The area can be inspected by enlarging the unmarked view available here. (NASA photo AS17-142-21755).

“Yep,” agreed Cernan. “You can see it’s blue-gray because of it’s contrast with the light mantle.”

“Yep. It might be a slump block,” I said, reinforcing my earlier thought, “or something like that.

“Jack, I’m going to go to the left.”

“You going to go through [Cochise) Crater]?” I asked with a laugh.

“Need 234 (bearing)…”.

“[Should we go east, more?]

“No, No. I’m going over here. This is closer. It’s a shorter cut.”

“That’s probably Bowen there, don’t you think?” I suggested.

“I think [so]…”

“Ahhh, well (not sure)…”

“Well, see, we never got too far [east]…”

“How about a range and bearing, guys,” requested Parker.

“[We] aren’t very far from SWP,” I added to the mix of possibilities.

“Maybe we got too far east…[Bob,] It’s 228/3.4,” Cernan reported. And we’re moving along at 10 to 12 clicks. That’s all it’ll hack.”

“How about an amps reading? We haven’t had one of those for a couple of [hours].” Distractions caused us to ignore this request from Parker.

“Starting to rain again,” I said, as one of the clamps on the replacement fender loosened and regolith particles began to fall on us… “Got a crater ahead of you,” I warned, suddenly.

“Oooh, boy,” Cernan said as we bounced through a depression without slowing down.

“Down-Sun [driving] isn’t much easier than up-Sun,” I commented.

“It’s just easier on the eyes,” he replied with a chuckle. “You [still] just can’t see any more, that’s all. …You don’t have that static [in the comm.], huh?”

“Nope. …Hope you’ve still got an [OPS] antenna; I haven’t looked recently.” I should have noticed, however, when I helped him get off his back when he became wedged against the wheel at Station 8.

“Well, there’s no holes in the high-gain.” A hole in the big antenna might indicate that Cernan had poked his antenna through the antenna net and broken it off.”

“[You] Might have hit it on a rock [when you fell].”

“Oh, boy!” Cernan bounced through another small crater.

“We’re back into the [dark] mantle area [and the] population of fragments is still one percent or so. The crater out off to our left, which is at 227 and three point…” I tried to read the range readout from a bad angle. “What is that? Three point what? Three?

“3.3; 227/3.3,” confirmed Cernan.

“It is a fairly good-sized depression, but it’s completely mantled. There’s no blocks showing in the wall at all. …How do you read, Bob?” With the static Cernan hears and the undulating terrain that might block our line-of-sight to Challenger, I wanted to be sure that we were being heard. These transmissions constituted my only field notes for the mission. It is a fine line between too many interruptions from Parker and being sure that the communications are going through.

“Loud and clear. We’re listening.”

“Now, there’s a crater in the wall of that depression or the small one near it. And it has one big block in the side, as if it penetrated the mantle and exposed some of the wall of the depression. Just about a 30-meter crater.”

Valley of Taurus-Littrow is not planar!” asserted the driver.

“No, it isn’t,” I agreed. “I’m glad we changed it to a ‘subfloor’ instead of the ‘plains’ unit.” This brought a laugh from Cernan, knowing that geologists worry a lot about terminology. We emphasize terminology for the same reasons pilots do, that is, to make as sure as possible that communications between professionals are clear. In fact, the use of the term “plains materials” to designate the valley floor map unit remained in use well into the mission year of 1972.

[Pre-mission photo-geological interpretation that the valley floor might be mantled by young, dark volcanic ash (pyroclastics) led to the more objective, albeit somewhat tortured use of “subfloor” rather than “plains material” for the rocks known to lie below this “dark mantle”. Even the low-resolution photographs available at the time showed that the subfloor unit is coherent enough to form visible blocks in and around some impact craters. Prevailing hypotheses about the nature of the subfloor unit consisted of (1) basalt, (2) the down-faulted top of the rim of the Serenitatis basin, and (3) blocky debris thrown in from the bounding Massifs. The down-faulted rim of Serenitatis of option (2) clearly existed at some depth, but the question was had it been covered subsequently by basaltic lavas or massif debris. The answer turned out to be both, i.e., massif debris followed by basaltic lava followed by massif debris (Chapter 13).

Early in EVA-1 it became clear that the subfloor rocks, at least to a depth of ~120 m or so (the original depth of Camelot Crater), consisted of basalt, but its total thickness remained unknown until later analysis of the active seismic and gravity data established the basalt to be up to 1200 m thick in the vicinity of Challenger (see discussion after Van Serg Crater, below). Later, it became clear that the surface beneath the subfloor basalt was extremely irregular, probably similar to the knobby topography characteristic of the Sculptured Hills. The nature of the apparent dark mantle stayed in doubt until post-mission microscopic examination of the orange and black “soil” samples from Station 4 identified them as consisting of volcanic ash.]

We’re in the inner wall of the depression here,” I reported and the rocks still look like subfloor gabbro. Boy, there’s certainly not much variety. …In general, there are few exotics…” Before I could elaborate, Cernan interrupted.

“Ooh, now that’s got to be Cochise.

“Ah, look at Cochise,” I agreed, impressed by the size and depth of this crater.

“That’s Cochise!”

“Roger. We think you’re coming up on Cochise.” Parker added.

“Get yourself a couple pictures while you’re looking right at it.”

“Could you swing right. Swing right.” I wanted to get a partial panorama of the crater interior.

[Once around SWP, we drove more or less south (AS17-142-21757-64, generally toward the South Massif, until we passed the north and east rims of Cochise (AS17-142-21765-68, AS17-146-22404-08), still traveling over a very mature regolith surface. As we approached Cochise, the frequency of larger blocks increased; however, there were no concentrations of blocks at the rim as are present at Camelot Crater (EVA-2, Station 5), indicating that Cochise is significantly older than Camelot. Although fewer in number, like Horatio and Henry Craters, there are patchy concentrations of boulders on the inner walls of Cochise. Before going to the south rim of Cochise, we steered roughly east and south with good views of the East Massif, Bear Mountain, and the South Massif (AS17-142-21769-77).]

“Bob, we are on the northeastern rim of Cochise. I’m going to work my way around the other side.”

Fig. 12.187. Two of my traverse photos taken on the northeastern rim of Cochise and combined to show the extent of the crater. Because of the motion between frames, parts of the LRV cannot be combined by the computer software. However, decreasing the brightness and increasing the contrast brings out the changes in albedo on the western wall of the crater. A larger view in a separate window is available here. (Combination of NASA photos AS17-142-21767, -768).

Fig. 12.188. Two of Cernan’s traverse photos taken at almost the same positions as mine in the previous figure. The larger scale version is available here. (Combination of NASA photos AS17-146-22407, -408).

“And Bob,” I said, “looking at the western (southwestern) wall of Cochise, I can see a contact within the subfloor between albedo units, one of which is a light tan-gray and the other is a light blue-gray (AS17-142-21767 and 146-22408). [This contact] may reflect the two kinds of subfloor gabbro we’ve already sampled – vesicular and non-vesicular. And that contact looked like it was (is) dipping…apparent dip in the wall was (is) to the north…in the west wall dipping to the north about 20 degrees.”

[The contact I mention is not as distinct in the traverse photos as I described how it appeared to me at the time. Adjusting the contrast on the image may clarify what I described. A similar albedo contact will be observed at Station 9 in the wall of Van Serg Crater and may indicate a near-surface contact between the subfloor unit and the pre-subfloor surface of the valley. Alternatively, the upper portion of a thick basalt flow may be significantly more vesicular than the lower portion, giving an apparent albedo difference.]

“Which one’s (unit) on top?” Parker asked. “Can you tell?”

“Yeah. The blue-gray’s on top. I’m sorry.” Not like me to leave that out of the description.

“Thank you. And you got a bearing and range there at the rim of Cochise?”

“I took a picture of it,” I added, “and…” Cernan interrupts me again. Why he has stopped paying attention to my transmissions is not clear.

“We’re at 228 (bearing) [and] 3.0 (range), and we’re headed south and not quite on the east rim [of Cochise]. …I’ll give you a hack at the east rim.”

“Bob,” I called, “I got a picture of that contact, so…” Again, Cernan cuts in. He may have decided that he has not been talking enough.

“I took some pictures right into Cochise, too, when we were coming up.”

“Good,” I said, choosing to ignore the interruptions. It’ll (the contact) show on yours, too, probably. I hope. …Okay. We’re sort of on the inner [slope of the east rim].”

“MARK.” Cernan notes. “230/2.9. We’re on the east rim.”

“Well, we’re sort of inside the east rim a little bit,” I clarified.

“Well, don’t get too far inside,” joked Parker.

“We’re halfway between the rim and where the blocky wall starts,” I assured him.

“All right. Copy that.”

Cochise is much like Horatio – actually, more like Camelot, although not as blocky in the walls, in general – in that it has blocky walls but a mantled rim. …Again, all the blocks I see in here – big ones and blocks down to about 20 centimeters – are sub-angular, in general, and appear to have the appearance of the subfloor gabbro; although most of the smaller rocks do not appear to be highly vesicular.”

“We’re at 232 and 2.7.

“Watch it,” I said as Cernan lost his concentration on driving and drove through a larger crater than he should have.

“You know what happened there?’


“I was just about to take a picture (AS17-146-22409),” Cernan explained, “and the minute you take your eye off anything…” This was a small example of his tendency to let something distract him from the job at hand.

Fig. 12.189. Ejecta on the southeast rim of Cochise. The tilt resulted from Cernan driving the wheels on my side of the Rover through a moderately-sized crater. (NASA photo AS17-146-22409).

[Cernan’s photo shows Cochise to be a crater with large blocks scattered around it and other large blocks and boulders in the distance. Although other evidence suggests that Cochise is older than Camelot, the presence of these visible blocks in the ejecta blanket is in sharp contrast to their absence around Camelot. The explanation for this disconnect is not immediately apparent, unless the basalts impacted here are more resistant to meteor erosion than at Camelot, or there was less volcanic ash erupted in this portion of the valley.] 

“Yeh. …I got another view of that contact, and let’s put that on the northwest wall of Cochise and dipping to the southeast. [Is] that right?” Momentarily disoriented for some reason, I questioned my last statement, as “southeast” did not sound right relative to what I had said before about a north dip.

“South and east is to our left.”

“No, no, no, no, no,” I said, trying unsuccessfully to erase what I had just said. “Put it (the contact) on the northwest wall [apparently] dipping to the northeast (Figs. 12.190, 12.191).” There is no eraser in radio communications.

Fig. 12.190. At the southeast rim of Cochise, Cernan made this photo and the next showing its northwest wall and the dipping contacts (brighter en echelon areas), possibly representing two separate flow units in the subfloor basalts. In the background are West Family and Family Mountains (left of the HGA) and the North Massif (right of the HGA). Note the unusual shadow of the wired transmit array (WTA) at the top of the HGA antenna feed shadow inside the antenna dish net at the top of the photo. (NASA photo AS17-146-22412).

Fig. 12.191. To the left of and behind the HGA mast, the view towards the North Massif shows the light albedo contacts on the northwest wall of Cochise. The Station 6 boulder is indicated by the arrow and the enlarged inset at left behind the reseau mark. The trek from Station 6 to the right along the base of the North Massif to the present position at the SE end of Cochise can be followed by enlarging the view in the separate window given here. (NASA photo AS17-146-22411).

“Yeah, that’s right,” confirmed Cernan.

“See that, Geno, can you see that over there?” I asked, referring to the contact.

“Oh, yeah! I can see it now between the gray and blue-gray?”


“Oh, yeah! Yes, I sure do.”

“Can you swing in there,” I asked, “and let me get another shot of it?”

“You betcha,” Cernan’s Evans-like Midwestern idiom bringing a laugh from me. “Now, there’s a good view right here (AS17-142-21778-82 and AS17-146-22410-12).

Fig. 12.192. My version of Fig. 12.191, although the light albedo contacts are easier to see in the former. The Sta. 6 boulder is also indicated by the arrow and enlarged inset at left. There are also a number of other boulders on the lower slopes of the North Massif near the contact line with the valley floor. Note also the rough nature of the foreground right of the TV camera, not conducive to wheeled traffic. These also can be seen in the enlarged version linked here. (NASA photo AS17-142-21780).

Okay now, I need to have you go left…”

“Okay. I got two of them in there, too.”

“Great,” I commented. The combination of color and black and white photographs will help in future analysis of differences between the units exposed in Cochise. The present orientation of the contact in the two walls of the crater may relate to the uplift of the contact during the crater-forming impact.

“Look at that rock right in front of us,” Cernan said. “It looks like a contact between a blue and a gray.”

“Oh, yeah, there it is. Yeah, you’re right.”

“We can’t get down to it, but take a picture (AS17-142-21777).”

Fig. 12.193. The large boulder Cernan noticed is immediately to the left of the HGA pointing handle. (NASA photo AS17-142-21777).

“Well, I think we’ve done [what we can],” I suggested. “I think we’ve got that [contact] relationship [between vesicular and non-vesicular]. I think we got it at Station 1, as a matter of fact.”

“But that’s a big beautiful boulder on the inner rim…inner south rim of Cochise.”

“Yeah, that’s quite a block,” I said, facetiously, as Cernan headed toward a smaller rock with the Rover. “Oooh…” He hit it.

“It’s a single block,” Cernan continued, talking about the large boulder and ignoring the impact of the boulder he just hit on a Rover wheel.

“That’s how you bend your tires.”

“Well, that’s what it’s (the wire wheel) for. …Boy, that’s a nice [rock]. …Oh, man, would that be…” It is not clear what question Cernan was about to ask at this point.

“Well, now, that might be glass covered. That might be a glass coating; the way it sort of hangs on the outside there. Hard to say.”

“We’re at 234 – can’t see it – 2.5.

“Starting to sling dust,” I reported. “I wonder if we’ve lost our fender.”

“No, they’re on they’re (clamps) tight – [maybe there is a] warp.” Cernan said he had tightened the inner clamp before we left Station 8.

“You think that’s Van Serg?” I speculated, looking at a fresh looking crater in the distance. “Right over there,” I said, pointing ahead.

“Well, let’s see…”

“There it is. Bet you.”

“Yeah,” Cernan agreed. “I think you’re right, because that’s just about the right place. Let’s see, 234 and 2.1 is where I want to go, and I’m at 230/2.5. …Pretty close.

“Our block population in here now – on the south rim of Cochise and out ahead of us – looks like it’s up to 5 percent. …And it all looks like light, tan subfloor gabbro …or tan-gray. You don’t see much blue-gray; not out on here. …There’s a recent hit,” I added, observing a very fresh impact crater off to the side of our route.

“This Rover is getting tested for what it was built for now.”


“I tell you it (the Rover) handles just the way as advertised, maybe even better.”

Parker broke into Cernan’s observations of how the Rover performed with, “We think you guys are getting to the point we ought to swing a little bit west to make that 234/2.1.”

“Yeah, I am, Bob.”

“I think we’ve got it. Tally-ho…,” I called as if Van Serg were a fox.

“Bob, that’s my fix. I’m just navigating to it. …I know where [it is]. I’ll get there,” Cernan said with a little irritation.” Parker never quite understood how we were actually navigating the Rover like we would an airplane using TACAN (Tactical Air Navigation System) bearing and range information to get to a point.

“We have a Tally-ho on Shorty. …I mean of Van Serg,” correcting myself as quickly as possible. “How about through there, Geno?” I suggested as two craters presented themselves as obstacles.


“Let’s not pre-judge the crater too much,” Parker said, referring to my initial use of “Shorty” rather than Van Serg.

“You want 234/2.1. Okay.”

“And remember we talked about parking on the southeast rim,” Parker reminded us.

“It wanders like… Our wander-factor in here has got to be 50 percent.” Cernan was picking his way through the block field surrounding Van Serg.

“Bob, you’re being cut out.” I informed Parker. “I can’t tell what you’re saying. …[Gene,] isn’t that where we want to go, over there?” I said, pointing to the southwest.

“Let me wander over that way. That’s where I want to get, but I couldn’t go there because of that [mess of rocks].”

“There’s a different looking rock there.”

“And remember, we’re talking about parking on the southeast rim,” repeated Parker.

Yeah,” I agreed. “I think you’re going to have to bear right.”

“Yep. That’s why… I’ve got to get through this [rock] field, though.” Arrival photos AS17-142-21789-90 show an abundance of rocks most of which will turn out to be relatively small, friable regolith breccia fragments; however there also are a few very large boulders as well (Fig. 12.194).

Fig. 12.194. The ejecta blanket of Van Serg Crater (Station 9) showing an abundance of fragments of regolith breccia as well as a few larger, much more coherent boulders. (NASA Photo AS17-142-21789).

“Yeah, I know,” I sympathized with a laugh. “Okay, Bob. We’re still primarily in an extreme block field here now. It’s up to a 20 percent cover, and…, (20 percent cover) of fragments, mostly the subfloor. Some of it looks quite highly shattered. I just saw one piece that looked like a white anorthositic rock.” Most of the rocks we navigated around are very dark and, based on subsequent observations, they are probably regolith breccias rather than subfloor basalt.

“How’s this [spot] look to you? We can go farther up there, I guess. Let me go farther up.”

“Well, okay, if you can get up [there].”

“Get a little farther on the southeast. A little higher…”

“[No need] to overdo it. …There is (are) some grayish rocks that are… Oops! High centered.” Vibrations through the seats indicated that a rock had scraped the bottom of the Rover.

“Right, coming up here. I turn to the right and park right here.”

Finishing my observation on the grayish rocks, I add, “…that have somewhat of a swirl texture.”

“Okay, Bob, we’re at 230/2.2. …What did I say? 230? I meant…yeah, bearing is 230/2.2, and I’m parked on a heading of 320, which gives you a better view.” Cernan had expected a 234 bearing back to the SEP transmitter and this amount of error was unexpected.

Station 9 – Van Serg Crater

Fig. 12.195. Site map of Station 9 (Van Serg Crater). The location of the LRV with respect to Pans 27, 28, and 29 as well as the locations of the various samples are shown (Modified from Wolfe et al.[1]).

“Oh, boy,” I complain. “This [seatbelt] is getting harder and harder [to release]. …Well, what’s wrong with it, now. I might have got it twisted.”

“Here, let me look at it,” Cernan offered, having had no problem with his seatbelt.

“Got it hooked [at Station 8], but not so I can get it undone.”

“Here, let me look at it. I’d say ‘stay put’, but I don’t think you have any choice. That fender just curled under, that’s where we’re getting the dust. …Starting to warp. Look at those other fenders, talk about warping.” Not only has heat warped the replacement fender but the other fenders had twisted as well.

“Did I get it (the seatbelt) twisted or something?” I asked.

“Yeah, you did twist it when you put it on. Okay, scrunch down.”

“I’m scrunched.”

“Okay. …You had one twist in it,” Cernan told me as he released the latch.

“Boy, that [little shortening] makes a difference.” I am surprised I could latch the seatbelt.

“Sure does. Here, …your foot pan’s down, too.”

“I’ll get it [back up]. …It’s lost it’s stiffness in there. Okay, I guess nominal plan for Shorty, huh? Or Van Serg.” I was pulling Parker’s leg a little here, by saying “Shorty”, again.

“Okay, LCRU Power’s ON,” reported Cernan from the front of the Rover.

Van Serg looks like a blocky-rim, fresh impact crater right now,” I noted, as I began my site reconnaissance.

“We copy that. How about scuffing your feet and seeing if it looks orange underneath?

“Slight difference [from Shorty]. …Don’t worry,” I said in response to Parker’s gratuitous comment about “scuffing”. Van Serg actually looked very different than Shorty, having a high density of relatively small rock fragments all across its ejecta blanket surface. Shorty, in contrast, had very few small fragments on its ejecta blanket, but had a small number of large boulders on its rim. Here at Van Serg, only a few large boulders were nearby, and it was not clear whether they had been ejected or were there before the impact.

“And, Gene,” Parker continued, “before you go away, we’d like the rest of the Rover readouts, like batteries. And how about a SEP temp readout before one of you guys leaves there?”

“Can you get that (SEP) on that side, Jack?”

“I will.”

“[Bob, you] Should have TV.”

“Rog. We have it, and I’m sure that Ed (Fendell) would like a good dusting job up front.”

Standing at the SEP receiver box, I report, “Well, there’s so much dust…”

“I’ll dust it if you can’t read it.”

“I’ve got it…[I’ve] wiped the dust off [the SEP] just over the gauge. It’s about 125 [degrees] on the SEP. …Boy, everything is really bad now. The [replacement] fender warped!”

“Yeah, the fender dug (curved) under,” Cernan replied, referring to the back end of the four, tapped together photomaps having rolled over underneath. “See if you can straighten it out.”

Referring to the SEP, Parker said, “Okay, and leave the covers…” He stopped himself and may have just realized that I had told him we could not close the SEP covers any more. The Velcro had died.

“Amp hours, 82 and 80. Battery, 122 and off-scale low. Forwards (motors) are 210, 240; Rears are 225 and 220. …That’s just a sample of the kind of dust we would have got, Jack, if we hadn’t of had that fender yesterday. Fender’s almost worn out.” Regolith particles had sandblasted the down-facing side of the replacement fender and, along with heat, had reduced the stiffness the laminated photomaps had when we clamped them on to the broken fender.

“Can you get a (lens) dustbrush,” I asked, “and let’s check our cameras.”

“Stay where you are, and I’ll give you a zap-a-reen-o, wherever you are…” Concentrating on his dusting, Cernan had not looked up to see me at the back of the Rover.

“Okay. …Got it?”


“Okay, how many [sample] bags do I have?” I asked myself.

“I don’t know,” Cernan answered, unnecessarily, “but I’ve got a lot of dusting to do here.”

“Do you have a lot of bags?” I pursued the issue.

“Yeah. I must have. …I’ve got four of them is all.

“I’d better change my bag [pack],” I concluded.

“Can’t even read the Rover [displays],” said Cernan, continuing his dust theme.

“Yeah. I have an empty [SCB] bag on me now, right? Collection bag?”

“Empty…,” he confirmed.

“Don’t know how much time do we have here,” I stated, looking for an update from Parker.

“Okay, 17. We’re looking at a nominal Station 9 here. You’ve got about 25 minutes remaining.”

“No such thing as a nominal station any more,” I mused as Cernan headed to dust the LCRU, and I went to his seat to get a new pack of sample bags.

“This may be the first and only one of the traverse,” Parker allowed.

“The geology won’t let it be nominal,” I predicted. “Okay, I’ve got some new [sample] bags, Bob. …And I guess I’m pretty good on film.”

“And you’re going to get a radial sample here,” noted Parker.

“Well, maybe I’m not [‘good on film’],” noting that my frame number was 123.

“…and so you might check your Rover Sampler bag supply,” added Parker.

“That’s right,” I agreed. “I want to take that.”

“And you might give me frame count or check it to make sure you’re okay.”

“I just did [check], and it’s 123.”

“Okay, good enough.”

“How do you want the SEP blankets?” Cernan asked Parker.

“Open, I think,” I quickly answered having had to leave them open.

“Leave them closed, please,” Parker contradicted, “Gene…as closed as they’ll get.”

“We been riding with this thing (SEP) OFF?” Cernan asked.


“SEP,” he clarified.

“Yeah, it should be OFF,” I told him.

“Yeah, it is. Doesn’t seem like it’d get much data that way. Even if it’s hot.” Clearly, he had not paid attention to other discussions about the SEP thermal cutoff at 108 degrees.

“Yes, but it’s automatic,” Parker breaks in. “…It shuts itself off when it gets above 108, so it’s no good anyway.”

“I guess they’re worried about getting it so hot it [destroys data],” I speculate.

“Are you kidding?” The Commander finally gets it. “Oh, boy.”

“We’ve been hoping all day,” Parker began but then elaborated on the Science Back Room’s strategy that had bothered me most of the EVA. “It’s been off all day, since Station 6. We’ve been hoping that it would cool down so that we could get some more data, but it’s not [doing that], obviously.”

“It’s not going to make it, Bob.”

“That’s obvious by now.”

“That’s a shame!” exclaimed Cernan. The Flight Director missed this call. With all the thermal and thermal cover problems the SEP receiver had, we should have been told to remove the recorder, stow it in a more protected position under a Rover seat, and quit worrying about it. We would have saved many minutes of EVA time for productive activities. The fact that the Principle Investigator on the SEP was also the Science Director for the Manned Spacecraft Center might have had something to do with the delay in admitting it was over for the experiment.

[My comment about the SEP at this point in Eric Jones’ Apollo Lunar Surface Journal was as follows: “I think that I was getting so that I didn’t quite trust Houston. They kept having us fool around with the SEP and my feeling was that it was probably gone. So I’m trying to prod them a little bit, having just told them that it was 120 [degrees] and my memory, at the time, was probably that that was way outside the limits. Literally, the science room was leading us down the garden path on the SEP, because all this SEP stuff we were doing was wasting time. It had quit working – when? Sometime in the first EVA, didn’t it? As with the (long-period) gravimeter (ALSEP LSG), they should have bit the bullet far sooner than they did. They knew what the limits were, but they kept having us dust it and tape it!”

Jones added the following: At 167:59:07, Parker will tell the crew that the SEP receiver turns itself off at 108 degrees. The temperature was 103 degrees at 163:43:51 at the start of the EVA [3] but was 110 degrees by the time they got to Station 6. According to the Preliminary Science Report,[2] the receiver switch was – unfortunately – in the STANDBY position, and no data was obtained during that drive. We note that Jack had reported putting the switch in the ON position at the start of the traverse at 164:19:32. According to the Preliminary Science Report, some data had been recorded during EVA-2 on the outbound drive to Station 2 and on the inbound drive from Station 4. The crew reported a SEP temperature of 105 degrees when they got to Station 2. We note that the SEP temperature was 112 degrees throughout the inbound EVA-2 traverse, higher than the supposed cutoff, and yet data was supposedly obtained.” There is no means of determining if I inadvertently moved the switch from ON to STANDBY or if the SEP switch failed to connect to ON in response to its thermal control problems.]

“This is starting to look like a Geological Survey expedition,” I joked, wanting to be rid of the SEP issue. “The vehicles are all covered with dust.”

“Oh, look what’s in there. …I don’t think I can read that unless I dust it with a lens brush.” I have no idea what Cernan referred to with this comment unless someone wrote a message on his Station 9 page in the Cuff Checklist.

“Get my [scoop]…” I am at the Rover Gate, getting ready to go to work.

“Okay, can I get by you here?” Cernan asked, moving from the SEP location to his seat. [Does] my bag (SCB) look all right to you?”

“Yeah, it’s still closed. …What are we going to do here?” I asked myself as I turned to Station 9 in the Cuff Checklist. “We’re going to go up there and sample on the rim; look at the walls and the floor, and miscellaneous, and then you’re going to take 500 millimeters when you get back to the Rover while I do a radial sample.”

“Well, we are on the rim.” We actually had parked on the ejecta blanket, about 60 m from the actual rim crest (Fig. 12.195↑).

“But the first thing we do is go up to the crater. Bob, I think the mantle objective here really is immaterial, because the blocky ejecta around the crater covers, …Oh, boy…” I finally stepped away from the Rover and scanned the area. “Well, it looks like it (the ejecta blanket) extends several hundred meters out from the rim, …say a couple of hundred meters. …We’re pretty close to the rim.

“Yeah, we can see that,” Parker commented, now that the MOCR had a TV picture. Cernan, in the meantime, dusted the gnomon to try to clean off the color chart and gray scale. Tapping it with the brush seemed to do more good than actually brushing.

“I’ll go up on the rim, Gene, and see what we’ve got,” As I picked my way through the field of fragments, I began to sing an old 1929, Joe Burke and Al Dubin tune. “Tiptoe through the tulips. Du-de-du-du, Du-de…” (For an authentic 1929 rendition of this golden oldie by Annette Hanshaw click here.[3] The memorable refrain is between 35 and 45 sec.) My choice of “tulips” is interesting in retrospect as many of the regolith breccia fragments I observed are split open at the top, somewhat like tulips.

“Let’s get Grav[imeter] (TGE) before you guys leave [the Rover],” Parker requested

“I’m getting it right now! Let me see; anything else you want me to do while I’m here [at the Rover]?”

“Negative.” But Cernan did remember to grab the tongs from his seat.

“Sure looks like shocked rocks to me,” I reported.

“Lot of glass splattered on some of these, Jack,” Cernan added.

“Yep. …We might even find some shatter cones. But don’t tell anybody. …Well, I’ll say one thing for old Van Serg: it’s blocky. Whoo!!”

“MARK – Gravimeter.” Cernan leaves for the crater rim.

“Bob. This is about…I think this is the only clearly [large fresh crater we have seen]. …Well, I won’t even say that. This is at least a large, blocky-rim crater. But even it has the mantle [of] dust material covering the rim, partially burying the rocks. And it’s (the dust mantle) down on the floor, as near as I can tell, and on the walls. The crater itself has a central mound of blocks that’s probably 50 meters in diameter – that’s a little high – [lets say] 30 meters in diameter. …Many of the blocks are intensely shattered in that area, as [are] the ones that are on the walls…”

“Holy Smoley!” interrupts Cernan, getting his first view of the large, blocky mess in front of us.

“I don’t see any sign of organization (layering or large scale texture) to the blocks in the walls, right now,” I continued. “There’s a possibility that, on the west wall, there’s an indication that there’s slightly darker gray rocks starting about halfway down the crater. And that level is coincident with what appears to be a bench on the northwest wall. And hints of that bench – it’s not continuous – but hints of it are around on the north wall and, I think, right below us, …yeah, on the southeast wall. …The rocks [on the rim] are pretty badly broken in many cases. Well, I haven’t seen any real [impact] glass yet. Yet… We’ll start looking at them a little more carefully. Some of them… That looks like a breccia right there in front of us.”

Yeah,” agrees Cernan. “There’s some interesting patterns on the surface…” Cernan took the before color stereo photographs (AS17-146-22413-14) while I took the down-Sun photograph (AS17-142-21791) of the area in which we would sample. These images (Fig. 12.196, 12.197) illustrate the flaky nature of the regolith breccias we sampled. In the down-Sun photograph, some of the small white clasts are visible. 21791 also shows how dusty our suits had become by this point in our activities.

Fig. 12.196. My down-sun ‘before’ photo of the block group (right of the gnomon; left piece) from which samples 79115, 79135 will be taken. The west wall of Van Serg Crater spans the top of the photo. The dust on Cernan’s suit shows how severe the problem will be for astronauts returning to a lunar module, or more permanent habitat after a day’s work in the field. (NASA photo AS17-142-21791).

Fig. 12.197. One of Cernan’s cross-sun stereo photos of the regolith breccia from which samples 79115, 79135 were obtained (red dashed curves). The stereo anaglyph in a separate window is available here. The highly friable structure of the block itself is best seen in the two convergent stereo 3D anaglyphs of the samples in separate windows, by clicking 79115 and 79135. (NASA Photo AS17-146-22413; anaglyphs derived from 146-22413, -414; sample anaglyphs derived from S73-23939, S3-23939a (79115); and S73-20391, S73-20391b (79135)).

“Stand by. Wait, wait, wait. I keep…Aw!” He moved into my picture before I took it. “Sorry, Geno, but…” Then I turned toward the Rover, saying “Locator,” afraid I haven’t been doing my duty on locators, occasionally…” These locator images (AS17-142-21792-94) also show the distribution of large, flat sided boulders within a field of small, irregular blocks on the Van Serg ejecta blanket (Fig. 12.197). There is an impression gained from these photos that the large boulders are oriented with their flat tops dipping away from the crater. They further highlight the high albedo of the knob of probable Sculptured Hills material, lying at the base of the northern portion of the East Massif.

Fig. 12.198. View of the Rover, ~60 m away (also see Fig. 12.195↑ for location), within the ejecta blanket that surrounds Van Serg Crater, showing the apparent dichotomy of large, flat sided boulders within a field of small, irregular blocks. (My Editor has painstakingly removed by hand all of the reseau crosses in this photo and the attached anaglyph to provide an uncluttered view of our working area). For the 3D anaglyph of this view, which the reader can also enlarge, click here. (Derived from NASA Photo AS17-142-21793; anaglyph derived from NASA photos AS17-142-21793, -794).

“[Did you get] that?” asked Cernan as he temporarily went down inside the crater, below the rim crest, to sample a block.

“Yup. I got it. .…Okay, Gene’s tearing apart one of the…very intensely fractured rocks. And it comes off in small flakes.” This should have been my first clue that there were at least two major rock types to sample – relatively small regolith breccia fragments and large boulders.

“Here. There you go.”

“Let’s [also] get this one,” I said, pointing, “because this will be the best oriented one for documentation. Plus, why don’t you get that one you’ve got inside there?

“Yeah, I am.”

“Got a bag?”

“Bag 568 (79115, Fig. 12.197↑) is a fragment from the surface,” reported Cernan.

“Yeah, that’s a corner, I think, off the block that Gene documented here [with his before photos].”

“Yeah; it is,” he agreed.

“We’ll get another sample that’ll be from inside the block,” I added…”

“[I can] get it with this (the tongs) real easy,” Cernan declares. “…Here’s a whole big [piece]. …We ought to take that just as [it] is. …Well, put a bag around one end if we can. Here, the other end is smaller. …Let me hold this end. Let me hold it, and you put the bag on.” As he manipulates the orientation of the sample, I finally get a bag to fit over most of it. “That’s breccia, too. That’s… Well, see that? See the white fragments in there? ….It’s got a lot of very small [white clasts]…” I kept trying to break in, but he kept talking over me.

“It looks like this big one over here,” I finally said. “You know, it might be that these [white clasts] might be pieces of the projectile. I don’t know. ‘Cause it doesn’t look like [subfloor basalt]. …It’s not subfloor. Okay. Pin it down…” He put the sample in my SCB, and I am telling him to settle it firmly in the bottom.

“Well, that’s wrapped in [a bag]…”

“If you put it [bagged] end down, it may stay in the [sample] bag.” I meant that, as we would not re-bag the SCBs, the bag probably would stay on for identification in the Lunar Receiving Laboratory.

“I doubt it,” said a skeptical Cernan.

“What’s the [bag] number?” I ask.

“It’s 480 (79135), and it’s a relatively tabular shape, and it’s about 10 inches long.”

“And it’s going to [break, easily],” I added. “…And it’s highly friable. It breaks apart.”

“Oh, not so much,” disagreed Cernan.

“[It breaks] In small chips. Well, you did it with your hands there. I call that ‘being friable’; compared to what we’ve seen, anyway.”

“Okay,” conceded the Commander, “and let me get an after or two.” (AS17-146-22415, ‑416).

Fig. 12.199. Cernan’s second ‘after’ photo of the boulder with 79115 and 79135 removed– smaller and larger ovals, respectively. (NASA photo AS17-146-22416).

[Post-mission examination of 79115 and its companion sample 79135 (Fig. 12.197↑, anaglyphs) showed that the boulder they came from is a regolith breccia containing a wide variety of clasts, including light-colored metaclastic breccias, basalt, orange glass fragments, shocked plagioclase (maskelynite), and various mineral fragments in a devitrified black glass matrix. The boulder has two sets of fractures, resembling impact shatter cones to some degree, which result in the samples breaking in to rough rhombohedra. A modal (particle) analysis of 79135 disclosed that it contains about 59% fine-grained or glassy matrix, 11% orange (?) glass, and 6.6% plagioclase and pyroxene.

Chemical analysis of 79135 closely resembles that of the light-gray regolith (79261) from the trench discussed below. The 21Ne exposure age of 79135 has been measured as 0.810 ± 60 million years, consistent with my estimate of about one million years, based on the lack of regolith breccia around the three million year old Shorty Crater (Chapter 13). ]

“Let me get a soil right over here,” I stated, continuing to have difficulty adjusting the scoop head as dust continued to work its way into the adjustment joint. “Okay. The soil next to the boulder, down to about 3 centimeters, is in bag 569 (79120-25, Fig. 12.197↑),” the bag being held open by Cernan. “And the soil and chips about two-thirds of a meter from the boulder. …Get another one (sample bag)?”


“(The next soil and chips) are in bag 570 (79510-37, Fig. 12.197↑). …Let me get over here [with my SCB]. …You’re going to step on your gnomon there.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t step on my gnomon,” Cernan assured me as if he could never lose sight of the gnomon even with the helmet’s limited visibility. “I’m going to get this one crimped.” For some reason, he twists the sample bag tabs to close rather than our normal procedure of flipping the bag around the tabs.

[Post-mission examination of these two regolith samples, 79120 and 79510, taken in close proximity to rock samples 79115 and 79135 indicate that they are fine-grained versions of the sampled boulder. Some of the chips in 79510 are vesicular and fine-grained olivine basalt while others are light-colored breccias. Derivation of 79120 from the adjacent boulder is indicated by nearly identical Is/FeO maturity indexes of 57 and 56, respectively.

The chemical analysis of regolith 79511 is very similar to that of regolith breccia 79135 except for slightly lower aluminum and calcium, probably reflecting lower plagioclase content. The analyses showed no indication of the volatiles found associated with the pyroclastic ash sampled at Shorty Crater (Station 4).

A number of additional regolith samples came from debris in sample bags for the regolith breccias from the rim of Van Serg. These are samples 79010, 110, 130, 150, 170 and 190.]

“There, very clearly, is a central mound. And now that we’ve looked at this one, the mound looks like it’s composed of gray fragment breccias much like what we’ve just sampled…”

“Stay still,” Cernan ordered, but I didn’t hear him through my description of the Van Serg central mound.

“…[make that] dark gray. And again it might be related…”

“Jack,” he insisted.

“Oh, excuse me. I didn’t hear you,” I said, as I moved out of Cernan’s photographic field of view, and continued my description of the crater floor boulders. “…related to the projectile. Now, we’ve got to see if there is subfloor [basalt] up here, or whether we’re dealing with another unit somewhere,” speaking as much to Cernan as to Houston. …Got your after?” I asked. (AS17-146-22417-18)

“Okay,” Cernan answered, adding, “I don’t see any [subfloor]…

“Well, the more coherent rocks [might be]. …This looks like subfloor.”

“I don’t see any orange material either.”

“Not yet,” I agreed.

“This particular rock we’ve sampled has tabular (parallel) fractures, and in one-half of the rock, they are definitely oriented…” continued Cernan.

“Boy, I’ll tell you, I don’t [see either subfloor or orange or black soil]. There’s more dust on these rocks. It’s harder to see a fresh surface. They’re not as clean [as we are use to].” Moving southwest along the rim, I report, “That’s subfloor,” but it is not clear what I was referring to as almost all the rocks looked like regolith breccias.

“Lookit. And even the floor of the crater is mantled down there,” repeated Cernan.

“You know, that seems [to be the case]. …Yeah. That seems like a [good observation]. …What you got? A piece of glass?

“Yeah, I think it is glass,” Cernan said. “At least it’s glass covered. Just glass covered. Houston, I’ve got an undocumented sample. It’s about 2 meters west of where we just sampled. It’s a glass-covered, oh, baseball-size rock in 571 (79155).

Fig. 12.200. Sample 79155 which Cernan picked up closer to the rim of Van Serg (Fig. 12.195↑, upper center). This view from the Lunar Sample Laboratory shows the glass-coated protected bottom and the upper surface eroded by micro-meteoritic bombarment. Of interest is the transition zone between the two which shows the thickness of the glass coat. A convergent stereo anaglyph is given here for further examination. (NASA photo S73-24181b; anaglyph derived from NASA photos S73-24181, -282b).

[Post-mission examination of 79155 found that it is a broken and impact glass impregnated olivine basalt of the high-titanium variety. It is the only example of subfloor basalt specifically obtained from the Van Serg ejecta, although fragments of basalt, as well as orange and black ash, are present in the regolith breccia and regolith samples.

A 40-39Argon age on 79155 measured 3.80 ± 0.04 billion years and its Ar exposure age is 575 ± 60 million years. This exposure age is unusually long for any rock to have survived even multiple exposures to the lunar macro- and micro-meteor impact environment. If correct, this age may include a large number of repeated exposures at the lunar surface. ]

“A lot of these blocks up here, Houston,” I reported, “– particularly the more fractured ones, but even some that aren’t [fractured] – are a gray-matrix, fragment breccia. And it looks like, really, the fragments (clasts) are quite fine. On the rim anyway, we haven’t seen any large fragments (clasts). The largest I’ve seen is about 2 centimeters [across]. But down in the [central] mound you can see some fragments (clasts) that are probably half a meter in diameter.” It may have been tiredness that caused me to refer suddenly to clasts as “fragments”.

“Jack, are you going around that rim of the crater up there?” Cernan called, as he caught up with me.

“I was just looking at rocks,” making my understatement of the day.

“I want to get a pan before I leave back there.”

“Oh, yeah. We [also] need to see if we can get some of the subfloor. I’m not sure I understand what’s happened here, yet. This [impact] should have brought up subfloor according to the theory, and it hasn’t.”

[Post-mission examination of samples and photographs clarified what was causing my confusion. The smaller rocks on the Van Serg ejecta blanket are regolith breccias produced by an impact into a very thick sequence of overlapping ejecta blankets and not directly into subfloor bedrock as suggested by the pre-mission mapping. These blankets consist of regolith ejecta primarily from Shakespeare, Cochise, Gatsby and Henry, in likely order of decreasing contribution. The pre-mission mapping also extended the dark mantle unit into the Van Serg-Cochise area. Nothing I observed, or in reported sample studies, however, indicates a significant contribution of subfloor basaltic material or black pyroclastic ash to the pre-Van Serg regolith.

Detailed consideration of all the samples, images and observations at Van Serg Crater suggest that the impact penetrated not only the ejecta blankets mentioned above, but into ancient regolith below them that had enveloped on a pre-mare basalt hill of Sculptured Hills material (see Chapter 13). The ~575 Myr exposure age on 79155, the glass impregnated olivine basalt discussed above, may reflect exposures related to an ancient regolith formed on a lava flow that covered or partially covered the hill of Sculptured Hills material. ]

“That looks like some of the…,” Cernan began to reply but couldn’t form his thought. “Look at some of the breccias, the blue breccias with the big old slabby white [clasts?]. …[Look at] the fracture face with the white inclusions.” He may have been thinking that the dark grey matrixes with white clasts resembled what we had seen at Stations 6 and 7. The differences, however, are considerable, including hardness, fractures and lack of obvious mineral crystals in the clasts.

“[You mean] Down there,” I stated, pointing into the crater.

“Yeah, down in the floor itself.”

“Yeah, it has that appearance all right.” From a distance, the large blocks on the floor of Van Serg did resemble the impact melt-breccias at the base of the North Massif. “Hey, Gene…”

Interrupting, Cernan asked, “Do you see that rock…”


Ignoring me, he continued, “…that rock that’s fractured in sort of a pyramid shape down there? Out here on the right? The right end of the floor down there. That big one?


“It’s sort of pointing west…”


“…Pointing east. That’s a unique fracture, isn’t it? …And there’s another one that’s fractured almost in a…”

Now Parker breaks in. “Seventeen, And we’d like to be moving from here in about 10 minutes, so we probably better be trending back toward the Rover, unless you’re seeing something really great out there.

“Well…,” I said, trying to control my impatience. “Hey, Bob, we ought to find out whether or not… [We] ought to find out what the rock is here, if you’ve got a little time.”

“Jack, let me to put this in your bag (SCB) and start…I’m sorry.” Cernan wanted to get rid of the undocumented sample he picked up a few minutes ago.

“Rog,” Parker answered me. “You got 10 minutes. I’m just telling you to start thinking about getting back.

“Yeah. We’re always thinking that way,” I replied with some irritation.

“Okay, Bob. One thing I noticed we do uncover,” Gene noted. “There’s a lot of, oh, 2-, 3-, 4-millimeter-size fragments of glass we’re kicking up all over the place.”

“Yeah,” I agreed.

“Little glass balls.”

“Hey, Gene?”

“Almost like Pele’s [Tears],” he continued, referring to the small, tear-shaped lava drops that are well-known at some Hawaiian volcanoes.

“Gene?” I tried again to get his attention.


“Can you come over here? I think there’s some subfloor here. We ought to…try to document it. But I tell you, most of the rocks are the fine-fragment breccias.

“Let me see if I can’t get one of those little [glass fragments].” Cernan was stuck on his glass beads and not on the larger issue of determining what the Van Serg event had excavated.

“There’s some glass. Hey…,” I said, continuing to try to get him back on track.

“You see, if they’re like Pele’s Eyeballs (Tears) or whatever they are.” Part of Cernan’s experience training in Hawaii seems to have been remembered.

[As noted above, Pele’s Tears refer to the teardrop-shaped volcanic glass particles found in Hawaii. Aboriginal Hawaiians attributed their origin to their goddess of the volcanos, Pele.]

“I think we can get some over here,” I tried to persuade him to join me in sampling. “If you’re careful coming over here, we can get glass that looks like it may have crystallized (cooled] in place here.”

“Okay. I’m talking about those little balls, too.”

“See that. …Whoo, take it easy. …Take it easy.” Cernan succeeded in disturbing the area I wanted to work in.

“Where are you? Right there?”

“Yeah, but put your gnomon right over here,” I said, pointing with the scoop, “and we can get that for glass and that for subfloor.”

“Okay. Let me…” Cernan began to take before photographs.

“But I’m not sure that is [subfloor],” I added, as I took the down-sun black and white photograph that was more cross-sun than down-sun. “It may be breccia. Everything is covered with dust here, and it’s hard to tell the [rock] types. Most of the rocks we’re seeing are breccias. …Make sure that glass is in your stereo…” (AS17-146-22419-20) My down-Sun photograph of the rock is AS17-142-21795 (Fig. 12.203↓).


Fig. 12.201. The in situ location of the glass agglutinate sample 79175 in Cernan’s cross-sun photo of the sample site. The laboratory photo at left has the approximate orientation and illumination of the in situ location. For a 3D anaglyph of the sample in a different orientation, click here. (NASA photos S73-19594 (left), AS17-146-22420 (right); anaglyph derived from NASA photos 73-24834, -834b).

“Be careful with it (the area),” I requested, taking locator photographs back to the Rover. “Oh, shoot!” I said as I tried to adjust the scoop.

Fig. 12.202. My second locator photo of the Rover taken from the sample 79175 site (see Fig. 12.195↑; and compare the above view with that in  Fig. 12.198↑. (NASA photo AS17-142-21796).

[Comparison of illumination and shadows of large, flat sided blocks shown in my locaters from this location (AS17-142-21796-97 with those from the earlier location (AS17-142-21792-93) tend to confirm that their sides are probably sloping away from the crater rim. ]

“I don’t have any bags so [we’ll have to use yours],” declared Cernan.

“Okay. …The glass looks like a glass agglutinate.” I took the sample from Cernan’s tongs, but drop it. “Oh no!

“It break?”

“[No]. Good. I think that will survive going back [to Earth] now…” Cernan picked the sample up again and we succeeded in bagging it.

“Okay. It’s a frothy glass agglutinate,” I reported. “It’s going to be in bag 481 (79175). …And it looks almost like a cow pie-type of bomb, Bob, if you’ll pardon the expression.”

“I will,” replied Parker. “I don’t know about anybody else.”

“Although it’s not flattened [like a cow pie]. It’s an aggregate of glass in… or, it’s [from] a pile of about four fragments, much like the one we’re sampling.”

[Post-mission examination of 79175 (Fig. 12.201↑, anaglyph) disclosed that it is a breccia made up of many different rock and mineral clasts (polymict) in a glass matrix. The clasts include fine-grained polymict breccias, basalt, plagioclase-rich metaclastic breccia, orange glass, and mineral fragments. ]

“Jack, we want to get a good scoop sample here. Maybe can we get some of those little fine pieces of glass around.”

“And it (the agglutinate),” I continued, “looks like it’s in place from the day it was born.

“Oh, God, ding dumb!” Cernan had dropped the sample bag.

“I’m having a hard time with this one,” I sympathized.

“[I’ll get] a piece of that rock right behind it…”

“Want a bag?” I asked.

“Yup. Let me turn around.” He handed me the rock and the bag, and I tried to make the sample fit in the SCB.

“Just not going to be able to get that one in the bag, I don’t think…”

“Okay, Houston,” Cernan reported while I fiddled with the bag and sample. “My sample’s in 482 (79195). It’s a rock, but it doesn’t look like subfloor. It looks like the blue-gray material we’ve been seeing… – the [regolith] breccia-type material.”


“I don’t think there’s any difference. …Got it in! [You] might just as well throw them in my bag (SCB). …You want a scoop out of here, though, Jack.”

Fig. 12.203. My roughly cross-sun (the gnomon was misplaced) ‘before’ photo of the location of samples 79175 and 79195. It is an opposite view to Fig. 12.201↑. The down-sun direction is indicated by the shadows. The arrow marks the direction to north. For a 3D anaglyph view of sample 79195, click here. (NASA photo AS17-142-21795; anaglyph derived from NASA photos S73-24241, -241b).

[Post-mission examination of 79195 showed it to be very similar to 79175 with the exception of the absence of glass in the friable, fine-grained matrix. Like 79115, 79135 (Fig. 12.197↑), and 79175 this sample indicates that the Van Serg impact target rocks were extremely varied in rock type and previous impact history. Of this group of samples, the breccia 79135 is one of several Van Serg samples that have very anomalous nitrogen isotopic ratios that suggest portions of it may have originated before the existence of a global lunar magnetic field (Chapter 13).]

“Seventeen, why don’t we get thaOf this group of samples, the breccia 79135 is one of several Van Serg samples that have very anomalous nitrogen isotopic ratios that suggest portions of it may have originated before the existence of a global lunar magnetic field (Chapter 13).t scoop sample as the first sample of Jack’s radial sample, Seventeen?”

“That’s right,” Cernan remembered. “You’re getting a radial sample. That’s fine. I forgot you were doing that.”

“Oh, man,” I mumbled as I found Cernan’s SCB almost too full for any more samples.

“That’s all right, Jack. That [bag] won’t come out. Just put it in there.”

“Oh, boy. Okay. Let’s let that one be the last [in there].”

“Here’s [another] one.”

“Well, okay. …Those are the last ones that you can take [in your SCB],” I repeated.

“Gonna lock?”

“No, I don’t [know]. …Stand by. I’m working on that.” Cernan moved so he was a little lower, finally enabling me to lock his SCB. “Okay. …Okay, before you go back [let me check it again].”

“I got to get an after a picture here,” Cernan said. “And I want to get a pan of this thing (Van Serg). We can get a stereo pan as you start your radial sample.

“Yeah. You take the after from there,” I suggested, “and I’ll go over here and [take my pan].”

“Okay. You need the gnomon?” he asked.


“Okay. I’m going to go over behind me and take part of the stereo.”

“Where are you going to take your pan? Let me see.” I wanted to be sure that his pan was well separated from mine to give good stereo.

“From behind me, …where we were [sampling].”

I moved about five meters northeast along the crater rim and said, “Well, I think I’ll just take my radial [sample line] right from here to the Rover.”

“That’s great. That’s great. Just do that, and then you’ll be right back at the Rover.”

Planting the scoop in the ground, I announced, “…I’ll take my pan from here, so you [can head back].” Cernan did so, heading northeast along the rim, but using more of a lope than he usually did. Part way there, he switched to a skipping motion.

Fig. 12.204. Cernan’s Pan 27 section looking from west (left) to north (right). Van Serg Crater dominates the view with a portion of the South Massif (left), West Family and Family Mts. (next left), and the North Massif (right) in the background. Note boulders and tracks on the North Massif, especially the Station 6 boulder in the larger scale view available here. (Derived from NASA photos AS17-146-22427, -24, -31, -33 in that order).

Fig. 12.205. In this two-image combination, the northwest wall of Van Serg Crater shows a bench about half-way down the wall (dashed line) with a sharp contrast between the upper and lower walls of the bench in size-frequency distribution of boulders and in their near-zero phase angle albedo. The image has been darkened to bring out the wall details. It is easier to see the contact by comparing this view with the enlargement given here without the dashed line. (Combination of NASA photos AS17-146-22427, -428).

Fig. 12.206. My amazing Editor used overlaps of six of the Pan 27 frames to make this 3D anaglyph[4] of almost the whole of Van Serg Crater. In the separate window view, the bench and the distribution of dark and lighter albedo patches on the northern and western walls stand out noticeably. The larger image is available by clicking here. (Derived from NASA photos AS17-146-22426, -27, -28, -29, and -31, -32. Copyright © 2018 Ronald A. Wells/Apogee Books. Courtesy of the author/publisher.)

Fig. 12.207. Pan 27 section from north (left) to east (right). At left are the North Massif, the Wessex Cleft, a lobe of the Sculptured Hills, and the “hump” over which we flew as we landed. Note the sharply defined impact craters all along the base of the lobe of the Sculptured Hills across the center of the image, which can be seen in the larger scale view available here. (Derived from NASA photos AS17-146-22434, -35, -36, -37, -38, -39, -40).

Fig. 12.208. Pan 27 section from east (left, middle) to south (right). The East Massif with its outcrops and boulders dominates the right half of the scene. The Rover, easier to see in the enlargement, is located right of center on a line below the major outcrop of the East Massif left of its first foothill. This is the last section of Cernan’s Pan 27 because he ran out of film at this point and the last few images were sun struck. The larger scale view is available here. (Derived from NASA photos AS17-146-22442, -43, -45, 46, 47, -48).

Fig. 12.209. My Pan 28 from the northwest (left) to northeast (right). In the background are (left to right): The North Massif, Wessex Cleft, a lobe of the Sculptured Hills, and the “hump” plateau. At left is Van Serg Crater with its bench on the east, north and west walls. On the west rim, Cernan is in the act of taking Pan 27. His stance with bended knee to level the RCU and Hasselblad camera shows that he has taken a picture and is preparing to hop up while making a short turn to his right to repeat the process of leap-turns to complete a panorama (except in this case he runs out of film while facing south). The larger scale view is available here. (Derived from NASA photos AS17-142-21804, through -815).

Fig. 12.210. Pan 28 from east (left) to south (right). The Rover, left of center is parked near the rim of a shallow, unnamed crater (see Fig. 12.211, below, for a dashed oval outline of it), which dominates the right half of the pan. The larger scale view is available here. (Combination of NASA photos AS17-142-21816, -17, -18, -19, -21).

Fig. 12.211. The right half of Fig. 12.210 showing the shallow, unnamed crater marked by the dashed oval. A larger scale view is available here. (NASA photos AS17-142-21819-20-21 form the base).

Fig. 12.212. The last part of my Pan 28 from southwest (left) to northwest (right). All of the South Massif is in the left background, followed to the right by West Family and Family Mts., and part of the North Massif at the right edge. Part of the south and west walls of Van Serg Crater are in the foreground, center to right. At left is a small part of the unnamed crater rim seen in the previous two figures. A larger scale view is available here. (Combination of NASA photos AS17-142-21822, -823,-800, -803.)

[The panoramas that Cernan and I took of the 90 m diameter Van Serg Crater and its surroundings (Pan 27, AS17-146-22424-45 and Pan 28, AS17-142-21798-824, respectively; see Fig. 12.195↑ for locations) add significant detail to what I was able to discuss in the time we had at Station 9. The distance between us also provides stereo for much of the crater interior.

Photos AS17-146-22424-33 (Fig. 12.204↑) and AS17-142-21805 (Fig. 12.209↑) provide a comprehensive view of the south to west to north walls and floor of the crater. Of particular note in these images are (1) the continuous bench about one-half the way down the crater wall (Fig. 12.205↑, Fig. 12.206↑), (2) the upper wall of the wall bench appears to have significantly fewer boulders and to be a darker matrix than the lower bench and floor of the crater, (3) the broken but coherent boulders that constitute the irregular mound on the floor of the crater in contrast to the predominance of regolith breccia fragments at the rim and in the ejecta blanket, and (4) several patches of wall blocks that appear to have a matrix of dark material.

Photo AS17-146-22431 (Fig. 12.204↑) also includes clear images of the boulder tracks leading to the boulders at Stations 6 and 7. The track to the boulder at Station 7 was not noticed until relatively recently after it was studied in images from LROC.

The absence of boulders on the Sculptured Hills relative to their frequency on the North Massif is clearly shown by comparison of AS17-146-22435-36 (Fig. 12.207↑) with AS17-146-22431 (Fig. 12.204↑). This contrast is also illustrated in frames AS17-142-21805-16 of the black and white panorama (Fig. 12.209↑).

Images AS17-146-22434-44 (Fig. 12.207↑) give a new perspective on the variability of surface texture and potential outcrops on the various knobs of the Sculptured Hills. The paint splatter feature on one of the near valley eastern peak of these hills, however, is not visible, although there is a clear view of the number of impact craters along its base.

The north end of the East Massif is imaged in AS17-146-22445 (Fig. 12.208↑), the last photo in this partial pan, and shows strong hints of the cliff and slope structure more obvious in the enlargement of the middle section of this massif.

Black and white panorama frames AS17-142-21799-800 (Fig. 12.213↓, below) show a large, stratified boulder, whose dark albedo and stratified structure is in sharp contrast with other large boulders in the frames and other photos. This boulder may be slab of the top of a subfloor lava flow that is a composite of thin, overlapping pahoehoe breakouts from a larger flow.

With enlargement, some of the pervasive light gray boulders on the mound in the crater floor appear fluted (As17-142-21803-4; Fig. 12.209↑), features that may be either portions of shatter cones or a surface lineation reflecting internal layering. On the other hand, the mound boulders appear to be of uniform (massive) texture and appear to have fractured irregularly, that is, without reflecting significant internal structural influence. Exceptions to this general character are a number of boulders with exceptionally flat surfaces (AS17-142-21807; Fig. 12.209↑, north part). These boulders appear to be largely non-vesicular; however, a few seem to have a few large holes in their exposed surfaces. Also, a few boulders have white spots that may be clasts or were caused by post-cratering micro-meteor impacts.

Black and white panorama frame AS17-142-21811 (Fig. 12.209↑) shows Cernan’s color panorama stance on the rim of Van Serg as well as apparent surface lineation on the Sculptured Hills exposure on the right slope of Wessex Cleft.

Photo AS17-142-21817 (Fig. 12.210↑) gives the location of the Rover relative to the panorama site. It also illustrates the general rocky nature of the Van Serg ejecta blanket and includes a large, basalt flow-like boulder (slightly left of pan center on rim of the unnamed shallow crater) that resembles that described above in AS17-142-21800. Next to this apparently layered boulder is a massive white block (arrow in Fig. 12.227↓; enlargement shows both boulders) possibly similar to troctolite sample 79215 (see below).

Based on the review of the photographs we obtained at Van Serg Crater, it appears that, with the exception of fragments within the regolith breccias and sample 79215, we did not sample material from the large boulders visible in various images. Although we were pressed for time at this stage of EVA-3, I should have at least visited one of these large boulders for a sample. It might have answered a number of questions about the material in the bottom of the crater. I am chagrined at this oversight on my part.]

Fig. 12.213. Dark, thinly stratified boulder on the upper inner south wall of Van Serg Crater, marked by black arrow right of center, and possibly originally the top of a thin basaltic lava flow covering Sculptured Hills-like materials beneath the impact point. Note that the surrounding boulders are much lighter in albedo and do not show the same obvious stratified structure. The enlargement can be viewed by clicking here. (Combination of NASA photos AS17-142-21799-800).

“Man, there’s about four or five different modes of travel out here.” Cernan said and then stopped in the middle of his color panorama…”I don’t believe it.”


“I think I’m out of film.”

“You’re out of film?” I queried, surprised. The crew in the MOCR normally would have advised him if he needed a new magazine before leaving the Rover.

“150 (frame count). And it stopped clicking. Jack, I didn’t get the rest of that crater down there.”


“I only got it [from] 12 o’clock (down-Sun) and around [through north]. Well, shucks.”

“I can get it,” I assured him.

“Well, here’s where I [am standing]”

“Well, I’m going to be out of film, too, here before long.”

“Okay. Just don’t worry about it then. Just press on with your radial samples.”

“I got a good pan over here. Did you get the crater at all?”

“I got the right (north) half of it and probably two-thirds of it [from there, left], so I’m just going to have to let that do. …Okay. I’m going to see if I can get some 500’s while you’re doing that [radial sample].”

“Hey, this isn’t going to be an ideal radial sample; but it will have to do.” The idea behind a radial sample came from the general tendency for ejecta to be overturned relative to its pre-impact distribution at depth. Sampling from the rim outward should give an indication of the distribution of pre-impact material from upwards from the bottom of the crater.

Heading back to the Rover, Cernan switched to his preferred bunny hop, singing, “Hippity-hopping over hill and dale. Dadadadada. Dada. Dada. Dadadada, Dada (Cernan has actually mixed lyrics from “Mule train” combined with the opening of the U.S. Army’s unofficial “The Caisson Song” [5]).

…Bob, would you tell me what your primary desires are again on the 500, based upon what we have?”

“The primary desire will be the North Massif: the blocks, and the (boulder) trails.”


“And while you’re at the Rover,” Parker added, “they want you to take the gravimeter off again, and we’ll get another Rover… Well, another surface measurement here, as well, to check against the Rover [measurement].

“Okay! …Here’s a [TGE] reading. I think I owe you one of those, don’t I? …670, 037, 801; 670, 037, 801.”

Meanwhile, I am still up at the rim of Van Serg with the Rover Sampler (Dixie Cups) at my waist, attached to the yo-yo. This would be the only use I made of the yo-yo, although it was important to have the potential flexibility of having it available if I had ever wanted to use the Tongs. To do the radial sample, I would stick the scoop in the regolith at each sample site, collect the sample in a Dixie Cup, stow the sample in my shin pocket, and take a locator towards the Rover.

“I didn’t know we were going to do both of these things,” continued Cernan, talking to himself but complaining a little. “I thought we were going to do one or the other. But, if we’re going to do it, we might as well do it right!. …MARK it. It’s flashing…”. Normally, Cernan would not have complained about this change, but it may have been a sign of being tired.

“Okay, bag…Standby. 52 Yankee (79165) is at the rim crest.” I documented the general location of the sample with AS17-142-21825-26, put it in a Dixie Cup, and dropped it into a shin pocket on my suit. For a reason that is not clear, sample 79165 is not referenced in the Lunar Sample Compendium, Wolfe’s USGS Professional Paper 1980, or the USGS Intra-agency Report: Astrogeology 70, a preliminary catalog of Apollo 17 pictures taken on the lunar surface.

“Well, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to use the Rover to steady the 500, and see what happens…”

[The 500 mm frames of the slope of the eastern-most portion of the North Massif, AS17-139-21212-48, show both the local distribution of blocks around the source crops from which boulders near the base of the massif have originated. A particularly large concentration of boulders is present in frames 21219-21. This series also documents the elongate streaks of varying shades of gray that characterize the surface of the regolith on its slope. These downward trending, impact-induced streaks illustrate the migration of regolith of varying degrees of maturation darkening.]

Fig. 12.214. A combination of three of the 500 mm frames showing several groups of boulders. Some of the individual boulders have elongated streaks associated with them; but also there are a number of very light-colored regolith patches not associated with boulders, e.g., about halfway down the right edge of the pan. This particular patch has an interesting S-shaped darker path cutting through it between the two arrows suggestive of the passage of a very large boulder. These details are better seen by enlarging the pan in the separate window given here. Clicking in the patch between the arrows in the separate view shows the S-path. (Combination of NASA photos AS17-139-21219, -21, -29).

[An area of concentrated very light-colored regolith is shown in AS17-139-21229 (see Fig. 12.214, right edge enlarged).

The forms of impact craters are largely apparent only below the break in slope near the base of the North Massif. On the other hand, the concentration of boulders higher on the slope appears to be generally along the down-slope rim of relatively large but degraded impact features that have penetrated below the slope regolith. A detailed topographic analysis of the slope of the North Massif, using a combination of LROC and Apollo 17 500 mm images probably would quantify these relationships.]

Fig. 12.215. Six of the 500 mm frames combined to show a wider field of boulders and albedo tracks. The images have been darkened to bring out the lighter albedo tracks and patches. The boulders seen at the bottom of the pan are those along the inner northwest wall of Van Serg Crater. The large, elongated boulder at lower left is the Dark Boulder (DB) seen in the initial traverse from Challenger to Station 6 (Fig. 12.26↑ in §1; also see Fig. 12.14↑, Fig. 12.15↑). The larger scale pan is available here. (Combination of NASA photos AS17-139-21255, -54, -53, -52, -51, -50).

[Photographs AS17-139-21249-69 specifically concentrate on boulder tracks. It may be possible to date the tracks by their differing albedos relative to the ages, 17-21 and 25-32 Myr, respectively, of tracks leading to the boulders investigated at Stations 6 and 7.

The location of some of the boulders in the first two frames of Fig. 12.215 can be compared with the 500 mm photo of the dark boulder and track that I made from my LM window after EVA-1 (Fig. 12.216). ]

Fig. 12.216. (Left): The 500 mm photo I took from inside the LM at the end of EVA-1 (Fig. 12.16↑, §1; also see Fig. 12.14↑, Fig. 12.15↑) of the Dark Boulder (DB) and its pronounced track. (Right): Two of the 500 mm frames from Station 9. The boulder identifications are numbered starting from #1 at the lower left of DB in a clockwise direction to #8 at the right of DB. Two of the numbers, 2 and 7, refer to craters. The larger scale version available here will be easier to follow. (left, NASA photo AS17-144-21991; right, Combination of NASA photos AS17-21255, -54).

With the first sample of the radial sequence in my pocket, I headed northeast along the rim to check on a rock I wanted to look at, but ran into a problem. “Oh, I should have let you take this scoop back. Oh, no!” The scoop head came off the extension handle. “Oh, me! Well, shoot! This [radial sample] isn’t working out too well, Dr. Parker.” Now I was frustrated as well as tired.

“Say again there, Jack.” Parker had not been listening.

Without talking about it, I leaned on the extension handle, connection end up, and grabbed the scoop head; but in rising, I lost my balance and had to run forward a few steps. “This isn’t working out too well. I’ve got to get rid of this scoop.” I went quickly back to the Rover.

“Just set it there [next to the Rover] and take your sample,” Cernan suggested. “We’ll get it (the scoop) [later].”

“I’ll take the samples going back. …Just like in training, the scoop doesn’t stay locked to the extension [handle]…”

The Flight Director apparently had become concerned about the time we had left, because we had been using more PLSS consumables than planned. All the EVA-3 stations required higher physical activity than we expected, and we had less rest time on the Rover than previous EVAs. So Parker said, “Okay, Seventeen. We’d like you to press on. We’ll abort the radial sample. We’d like to leave here immediately, if not sooner, to head for Station 10. Enough of the 500 millimeters, Gene. And we’ll give you some information here on [film] mags. We need the gravimeter put back on the Rover, if you haven’t already. If it’s on the ground, we didn’t get the mark (Somebody wasn’t listening!), but it’s probably done by now. And we’re going to take the DSEA (the SEP data storage unit) out of the tape recorder here (Finally!), and we’d like to get that all done pronto.” It was disappointing to abort the radial sample, as this was one of my inputs into sampling strategies; but, as will be seen, the time will be better spent, unexpectedly, by digging a trench and getting a core.

“Okay. 85 is the mag count on the 500,” reported Cernan.

“I think that’s a smart move, Bob,” I commented. “I don’t think the radial sample’s going to tell you much here.” Even though I invented the concept of the radial sample, thinking of an impact crater as a type of natural drill hole, the Van Serg ejecta blanket appeared to be a uniform distribution of regolith breccia, now that I had integrated everything I had observed.

“Jack, you ought to get a scoop of that dirt, though,” suggested Cernan. “One scoop… We don’t have a scoop of it, do we?”

Already, taking a dig into the regolith near the Rover, I said, with some surprise, “Look what’s underneath it.”

“Well, I don’t know what’s underneath it.” Standing on the other side of the Rover, he wasn’t watching me.

“It’s white.”

“Well, I wanted to make sure we got some of those small glass balls.” Cernan surely had a fixation on these “glass balls.” We almost certainly had sampled them already.

“Yeah, we’ll get a scoop of it (the white material).”

“Up on the top,” Cernan said as he put the TGE back on the Rover.”

“Seventeen, we’re anxious for you guys to get going.” The MOCR was not big on flexibility when it comes to exploration.

“Here’s your gravimeter reading from the surface; 670, 057, 101; 670, 057, 101.” Cernan read this after he attached the TGE back on the Rover. “You want me to change my mag at the next station?”

“Come here, Gene, quickly. We can’t leave this.” I had taken less than a minute to dig a half wall trench through the surface zone of the ejecta blanket.

“What do you got?

“This may be the youngest mantle over whatever was…was thrown out of the crater.” At this point, I still considered it probable that the dark mantle was relatively young and that we might have stratigraphic evidence of this and could provide samples that could give some absolute dates.

“Take pictures of it. I don’t have any film. …Take pictures of it.” (AS17-142-21827-28) …Bob, we’ve got to take 5 more minutes. We’ll be right with you. What Jack’s done is, he dug a trench in a southwest-northeast direction, and he discovered – about 3 inches below, 4 inches below the surface – a very light-gray material (Fig. 12.217).

Fig. 12.217. The trench at Van Serg Crater, Station 9, which penetrated the dark ejecta blanket regolith into light gray regolith beneath. The brightness has been decreased to enhance the light gray. Arrows indicate the contact between the two regolith units. Double drive tube core 79001/2 also contains this contact. A 3D anaglyph of the trench is available here. (NASA Photo AS17-142-21827; anaglyph derived from AS17-142-21827, -828).

“Possibility here. …Careful, Geno,” I warned Cernan as he came too close to my trench. Geological adrenalin had hit me again just as it did at Station 4 when I found the orange ash. The tone of my voice had changed, significantly.

“Yup. …Take that crust.”

“Well, I’m trying to get the upper portion there. There we go. …The first 2 centimeters [in] bag 483 (79220-28)…The next 5 [centimeters] …Ahhh…in 484 (79240-45). Augh! Get some?” About half the material in the scoop missed going in the bag.

“I got quite a bit,” Cernan said.

“That’s enough.”

“I got quite a bit,” he repeated.

“Here, you got to put that (the sample bags) away, don’t you?” I turned my SCB toward him.


“And the next 10 centimeters of the light-gray material, will be, probably, in 486… …If we’re lucky, [I can] get it (the sample bag) off.”


“I think it is 486, right?” In my excitement, I lost track of the numbers.

“Yup…[No.] 485!,” corrected Cernan.

“485 (79260-65). Okay. What did I say [before]? …483, 484? Okay.” The after sampling photo is AS17-142-21829. As Cernan had not yet traded his used film magazine for a new one, there are no color before and after sampling images.

Fig. 12.218. The collapsed trench after removing the samples (cf. Fig. 12.217↑, above). The image has been darkened and the contrast stretched to enhance the light gray material left on the surface. Note also the very faint light gray boot treads near the center of the photo. (NASA photo AS17-142-21829).

[Complex geological relationships appear to exist between my observations and crater rim samples, the absence of basalt samples, and the samples from the ejecta blanket trench and drive tube core form a complex group. A probable explanation of these relationships and other aspects of Taurus-Littrow geology will be discussed in detail in Chapter 13.

Note here that the presence of abundant friable regolith breccia samples on the rim and ejecta blanket, in contrast with the absence of such breccias at Shorty Crater (Station 4, EVA-2), indicates that the Van Serg impact occurred on the order of 1 Myr ago, versus the measured age of ~3 Myr for Shorty Crater (Chapter 13).]

“You with us, Bob?”

“Roger. We’re with you.”

“He’s mad at us now.” I could tell by his voice he would have rather we had left than made another discovery.

“How’d you guess?” Back in the MOCR, Flight Director Griffin had finally taken charge and was leading a discussion of extending the time at this station and dropping Station 10.

“Okay. The third sample is in 485.”

“Okay. Whoops, sorry.” I continued to have a problem getting all the sample material in the bag Cernan held. Then, I finished the thought I had started, earlier. “Bob, a possibility here is that this upper 6 inches of gray material, in here, is the latest mantling in the area and the light-colored debris may be what’s left over from the [Van Serg] impact.”

[This statement does not make much sense, even in the context of what was known at the time, and may reflect my growing mental tiredness. My faulty reasoning may have been cluttered up with still looking for evidence of what constituted the “young” dark mantle material thought to cover the regolith in the valley floor as a whole.

As discussed in Chapter 13, the dark gray regolith breccias and ejecta cover around the crater were deposited as a consequence of that Van Serg impact. The pre-impact history of the underlying light gray regolith, on the other hand, is unknown, although that material may be derived from the ejecta blanket of Cochise or Henry Craters. The Van Serg impact even may have penetrated the Henry and Cochise ejecta and reached into that from the older Shakespeare Crater. Future estimates of the depth of Van Serg versus the thickness of Cochise ejecta might help make this determination. The bench on the wall of Van Serg Crater (Fig. 12.205↑) may be the contact between Cochise ejecta and the underlying Shakespeare ejecta blanket.]

“Okay, I copy. I understand. But we’d like to get you going…in case you didn’t get the clue.”

“I know.”

“We’re going,” added Cernan. “Okay…”

“All right,” I agreed. “What else? Magazines.”

“No, we’ll change them at the next station. Isn’t that right, Bob?” asked Cernan.

“No,” I quickly disagreed. “I’ve got to have some [more film]. I got to get some, or I can’t take [traverse photos].”

“Okay, Seventeen. We need Jack to put on magazine Nancy (AS 143). And we’d like, Gene, for you to pull out the DSEA tape recorder at this station.”

“Okay, I need a magazine too, Bob,” Cernan added. “I don’t have any film at all.”

“Roger. That’ll be Bravo (AS 134, also used during EVA-1), if you change yours here, or you could change it at Station 10.”

“I’ll change it here. It’s just as easy while we’re in there [under the CDR seat].”

Now, with the CDR seat raised, I asked Cernan, “You want [mag] Bravo, huh?”

“Bravo. And I’ll get the DSEA. …Bravo was outside there; I saw it.”

“There you go.”

“Let me get this. …Hold it (the film magazine) long enough for me to get this [dark slide out]. Then I can get rid of this [other mag] all at one time.


“Oh!” Cernan dropped the dark slide.

“Well, that’s all right,” I said, thinking that we could use other dark slides.

“I can’t put that back in.”

“Got it [on the camera]?”

“I got Bravo [on the camera].”

“Okay. I got that one,” I said as I took his used magazine.

“[Bob,] We lost the dark slide out of Bravo, and it’s in the dirt. I’m not going to pick it up.”

“All right. Copy that. There’s no point in putting it back in. It probably wouldn’t go in anyway.”

“No, not [if it is] dirty. Okay. I’m changed,” reported Cernan as he headed for the Rover gate to retrieve the DSEA. “And I don’t know what the mag [film] count is, but let me get the DSEA. If this thing is true to form, I’m going to have to get in there. …I got to… The bow is tripped!,” he said with surprise, finding that the locking bolt, with its butterfly or “bow”-shaped nut, had shaken loose. “Well, now what’s… Hey, we got some rocks in that big bag. …Okay. …We’re done with the SEP. DSEA is coming out. I hope there’s something on it …Oh, Jiminy Christmas. I can’t even pick up that big bag to close the gate! …I’ve got to trip that latch with tongs or something to lock it.” Cernan then takes the DSEA to my seat.

“And, Jack; Houston. Over.”

“Go ahead.

“Okay, we’ve had a change of heart here again, as usual. And we’re going to drop Station 10, now that we’ve hurried you so much, and we’re going to get a double core here. And we’d like to get some football-size rocks while you’re doing that. But double core here, and then we’re going to leave here and go back to the LM.” With the discovery of the layering in the ejecta blanket, the Science Back Room apparently had recommended this course of action. Station 10 is well out on the subfloor with a good chance that it would be similar to Station 1. Here, at Van Serg, we had something new and different to explore. This was a great decision, with many ramifications not realized until almost 50 years later, as I dug ever more deeply into the regolith geology of Taurus-Littrow (Chapter 13).

“You don’t want a double core here,” I offered. “I don’t think we can do it, Bob. It’s too rocky.”

“You don’t think we’ll get through that stuff you just trenched?” asked Cernan.

“Well, I’m afraid there are rocks all through it, Gene. We can try, but…”

“Let’s try it.”

“Well, I don’t like to try things that there’s a probability of failure on, if you can… You’re just going to lose some time.” Cernan was right to try it and because the rocks are so friable, the core would probably break through. Also, I had not exposed any large rocks in the trench I just dug and sampled. “Okay, mag Nancy is on the LMP’s camera.”

“Well, you can see the rock population here, Houston,” I said.

“But we can try it (the double core),” Cernan countered.

“It’s all right.,” I finally thought things through. “If we get a single, we get a single out of it.”

“Oh, you’re doing it, huh?” I noted as I went around to my seat where Cernan had assembled a double core to the extension handle.

“I’ve got it started.”

“Well, you’re not even… Okay. Not even going to debate the issue?” My comments here don’t make a lot of sense. I must have been showing some mental fatigue – embarrassing to say the least.

“Nope. It takes too much time debating it.”

“Well, let’s see how much time it takes. I hope you’re right.”

“Okay, and we need a lower [core section] out of my bag,” Cernan declared.”

“Let me get the core.”

“A lower [section] out of my bag is all we need.”

“Watch it,” I warned.” You’re in a crater almost.”

“Yeah I want to get [lower] for you.” Cernan obviously was thinking more clearly at this point than I. I took the lower core out of his SCB and handed it to him to attach to the upper he had taken from beneath my seat.

“We have to have you guys moving in 10 minutes,” Parker called. “And we’d like to also deploy EP number 5 here.”

“I’ll start on the [double core while you get the charge].”

“[You need] the lower? …This is a lower, right?”


“You got an upper?” I asked as I held the lower section for him to screw the upper section in.

“Yeah. …Why don’t you get [EP] 5 out, and I’ll start on the core.”

“I’ll get that. And I’ll put that right there.”

“Okay. The lower is 50 (79001); the upper is 37 (79002)…Is that [EP] 5, Jack?”



“Why don’t you put it (the core) up [by the trench],” I suggested. “Well, …you put the gnomon away. Put it (the core) fairly near that trench. At least there is some documentation there.”


“I’ll try to have the pan going while you’re doing it,” I added. “Okay, Houston,” I began, starting think about placement of the seismic charge. “[Gene,] Which way you going to drive out of here?”

“I’m driving out of here…”

“Left or right?”

“I’ve got to go right,” he concluded. “I got to go right.”

“Okay.” I went to the left of his projected Rover path and began to activate EP 5. “Pin 1 is pulled and safe. Pin 2 is pulled [and] safe. Pin 3 is pulled and safe.”

“Okay, Jack,” Parker acknowledged, “and we’ll document it back to the Rover, I guess is the best way, …That [core penetration] doesn’t look too hard, Gene.” At just that point, Cernan’s fairly rapid progress with the core stopped. “Until just now.”

“Try to…,” I started to suggest working the core back and forth when, after two more hammer blows, penetration began again. “Oops, looks like you proved me wrong!”

“The first core was easy,” Cernan said, “the second one a little tougher; and then it got tough down at the end.”

“Stay there, I’m getting a picture of you. Okay?”

“Okay.” Cernan slowly pulled the core out, examined the outside, and then touched the open end with his finger.

[Photos AS17-143-21836-58 constitute my second panorama at Van Serg, Pan 29. This series documents Cernan’s collection of the drive tube core and his activities around the Rover. The configuration and status of the Rover also is well recorded, particularly the condition of the replacement fender. The location of the seismic charge EP-5 is shown in 21838 (Fig. 12.219, below).]

Fig. 12.219. Part of my second pan at Van Serg from west to north-northeast (see Fig. 12.195↑ for location of Pan 29 south of the LRV). Cernan is working with the double core tube, and seismic charge EP-5 has been deployed in the middle of the photo (also see single photo in Fig. 12.225↓ for the locations of the trench and a sample). The larger scale version of this partial pan is available here. (Combination of NASA photos AS17-143-21836, -37, -39, -40).

Fig. 12.220. Pan 29 from north-northeast to east-southeast. A knob of the Sculptured Hills and the long eastern plateau dominate the background. The ejecta from Van Serg comprises the foreground. The larger scale version is available here. (Combination of NASA photos AS17-143-21841, -42, -43, -44).

Fig. 12.221. Pan 29 from east to southeast. The East massif dominates the right half background; but it is the Rover tire tracks in the immediate foreground below the East Massif that is of interest because the treads on my side of the LRV (driving toward the viewer) pass through two close and relatively deep craterlets that caused a memorable double-bounce. The large scale version of this part of the pan is available here. But also see Fig. 12.222 for a 3D anaglyph of the same view. (Combination of NASA photos AS17-143-21843, -44, -45, -46).

Fig. 12.222. A large sweep of the southern vista of Pan 29 could be made into a 3D anaglyph[6] which gives greater life to the view of the ruggedness of this part of the Van Serg ejecta blanket, especially including the LRV tracks through the close double craterlet in the left foregound. The wide 3D panorama was possible because of the wider than usual overlaps of each successive photo. Taken in pairs, they produced four panels which themselves overlapped and could be joined into a seamless view. The larger scale version is given here. (Derived from NASA photos AS17-143-21845, -46, -47, -48, -49; Copyright © 2018 Ronald A. Wells/Apogee Books. Courtesy of the author/publisher).

Fig. 12.223. The final portion of Pan 29 from the south to the west. The lower part of the South Massif in the background is blocked by the rise in the foreground caused by the shallow unnamed crater outlined by the dashed curve. See the same crater in my previous Pan 28, Fig. 12.211↑. The smaller dashed curve marked V.S. at right is part of the southern rim of Van Serg. The larger scale, unlabeled view is given here. (Combination of NASA photos AS17-143-21847, -48, -49, -50, -51, -53, -54).

[This black and white panorama gives an opportunity for future analysis of the frequency of various rock textures and sizes around a young impact crater. For example, frames 218550-53 show a large boulder with a vertical, apparently planar contact between light and dark rock units. The dark rock in this composite boulder may be similar to the stratified dark boulder observed in Fig. 12.213↑, noted above.

Frame AS17-143-21854 (Fig. 12.223, right edge) gives a good impression of the height of the rim of Van Serg Crater relative to our surroundings.]

“I got it (the photograph).”

“You got it from here?”



“[The lower core is] full, but it wants to slide out. It’s full. No rocks in it. It looks like just the same stuff we’ve been traveling through.” Cernan is using his finger to keep the material in the lower core.

“Okay, Jack,” Parker, watching Cernan on TV, called, “I think you better help Gene with recovering that core there where he thinks it’s going to fall out.”

“You know, I think you’re right,” I replied. “And if you’ll just wait until I finish the pan, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

“Okay. I didn’t know what you were doing,” admitted Parker.

“Bob, it’s (the lower core) capped,” reported Cernan.

“Got you. Okay.”

“[Jack,] Just hold the [extension] handle…” I had joined Cernan at the Rover gate where he had placed the core tube caps.


“I can take this one (upper core) off. …It’s very loose soil, Jack. And it’s…just any little movement and you’ll lose some of it. Let me cap that end. Don’t move it.”

“Uh-oh, you almost knocked some out,” I warned him. “Get your [rammer] you know where your thing (the rammer) is?”

“Yeah, but I need you [to]… The [additional] cap’s on you. The last one’s gone off the Rover [gate].” We should have been more prepared.

“That’s all right,” I said. “I’ll stay here. Go put your top in (on) [the lower core]. I won’t move it (the upper core).” Cernan went to my seat with the lower core, gets a top cap, and screwed it on. Then, he stows the core under my seat. Back at the gate, he gets a cap out of my SCB and puts it on the bottom of the upper core.

“Any little movement and that stuff starts [to fall out],” observed Cernan.


“Okay. …Turn around. I’ll get the rammer [off your PLSS].”


“Oh, man! Even these [extension handle] pins are getting stiff…” This is not the scoop extension handle with which I had been having trouble, but the identical handle off the rake. Nonetheless, Cernan gets it off the upper core and takes the core and the rammer to my seat where he uses the rammer to compress the upper core material.

“Okay, Bob. The top rammed down, oh, almost half way without any effort.” This lack of natural compaction is further evidence of the very young age of the Van Serg ejecta blanket.

“The scoop’s back on [the extension handle],” I reported, as I attached it to the Geopallet.

“The bottom [of the double core] rammed down about an inch,” Cernan recalled.

“Okay, Robert. Let’s see,” I mused. “…What was the last thing – let’s see – we had to do?”

“Turn around and I’ll get this [rammer back in place]. …A couple of football-size rocks” Cernan answered for Parker.

“You got the DSEA.?” Parker asked.

“I got it.”

“I got the charge,” I reviewed. “You got the double core.”

“I got the double core,” Cernan repeated, possibly rubbing in my previous hesitation on being able to get that deep.

[The regolith units in the double core 79001/2 turned out to be overturned, based on a reversal of the nitrogen isotopic ratios relationships documented in the Apollo 17 deep drill core (Chapter 13). That data also contributes to the implication that some Van Serg samples contain relics of materials exposed to an ancient solar wind before the existence of a global lunar magnetic field that was very different than the solar wind present after the demise of that field.]

“And I got one sample of a radial sample,” I said with a small laugh.

“That’s a unique one,” Parker added.

“[And that sample is] in my pocket.”

“And have we got the gravimeter back on the Rover?”

“Yes; it’s on,” I told him. “And we want to get a large block. Why don’t we…”

“No,” disagreed Cernan, “let’s get a couple of them. I’ve got one.”

“There is a [desire] here for a SESC (Special Environment Sample Container),” Parker broke in, “from the shallow trench. We’d also like to have you moving in 4 minutes. That’s with wheels rolling in 4 minutes.

“SESC, huh?” I said in doubt.

“Roger; but we have to have the wheels rolling…”

“I don’t know if we can do that,” I responded, thinking about the time it takes to do everything required for this special, sealed sample. “We can try it.”

“We want the wheels rolling in 4 minutes, so I don’t think it’s practical at this time.”

Cernan agreed. “Bob, we cannot get an SESC in 4 minutes…and roll…at the same time. …Now, I’ve got to push this latch on the gate…[that is,] on the pallet to get it locked.”

“Need some help?” I asked, moving to the back of the Rover.

“Push the pallet while I trip the latch, will you? Because, I got to trip the latch. There’s so much dust in that core [of the latch].”

“Get it?”

“No. No. Wait a minute. Open it up,” he requested.

“Wait a minute. Okay.”

“Now. …Now that’s where [we need it to be]. Now let me trip it. …Okay. Try it. …Locked?”

“Yeah,” I replied as I pulled on the pallet to test the lock.

“Should be locked now.”

“That got it,” I confirmed. “That got it. …Okay.”

“Got a big rock there, too?”

“Well, you know, the thing that amazes me is that there’s no subfloor [basalt] around here.” In all the time I had been looking at the rocks scattered across Van Serg ejecta, all I had seen consisted of highly friable, regolith breccias. Many of these rocks were breaking down in place to piles of smaller breccia fragments. As mentioned previously, I had neglected to examine any of the large light-colored blocks on the ejecta blanket. Knowing what they are and sampling at least one of them probably would have been important in confirming future interpretations of the geology of the Van Serg area.

[Many of the larger craters in the valley probably have affected the geological history of materials sampled at Van Serg Crater. Using the “blocky rim to blocky wall to smooth wall” phases of crater aging previously related, and integrating my observations with the detail provided by LROC imagery and the analysis of regolith units in the deep drill core, the apparent sequence in relative and approximate absolute ages for the craters studied on the floor of the valley is as follows (see Chapter 13):

1. Van Serg (~1 Myr)
2. Shorty (~3 Myr)
3. Crater Cluster (SherlockEmoryPowell-etc.) (389 Myr)
4. Camelot (445 ± 5 Myr)
5. SWP (?)
6. Horatio (~1075 Myr)
7. Henry (~1868 Myr)
8. Cochise (~2292 Myr)
9. Shakespeare (~2901 Myr)

The estimated ages for the four oldest craters in this list were derived from the studies of lithologic zones in the deep drill core and their correlation with the age and maturation index of Camelot regolith. Sections of Chapter 13 deal with these issues in detail.]

“I got one [large rock] here (79035). …Okay. I’m about ready to clean up (configure for travel) the Rover here…”

Fig. 12.224. Rock sample 79035, originally a fairly large, friable regolith breccia, which broke into several pieces during rough handling while being transported to the Sample Laboratory. This photo is of the largest piece. I picked it up behind the Rover (see Fig. 12.195↑). (NASA photo S73-15729)

[Post-mission examination of 79035 showed that it consisted of fine-grained, dark-matrix, basaltic regolith breccia much like most other rocks sampled on the rim and ejecta blanket of Van Serg Crater. Its matrix appears to be cemented by porous glass. Its 21Ne exposure age is 660 ± 50 Myr, and its anomalous nitrogen isotopic ratio relative to its maturity index (along with these values in 79135 and 79221) strongly suggesting that the breccia was formed from an ancient regolith that included materials formed prior to the existence of a global lunar magnetic field at ~4.25 Ga, after which solar wind particles would have impacted only at the lunar magnetic poles (Chapter 13).]

As we had worked on the pallet, Ed Fendell had been scanning the area with the TV camera. When viewing in the direction of the Explosive Package I had deployed, the camera picked up a small slash of orange color, apparently just on top of a distant hill. As he zoomed in to see what it might be, the orange slash appeared to be in the far field. All of this produced significant discussion and speculation in the MOCR. At this point, no one in Mission Control had any idea what they were seeing and may have even considered aliens.

Okay, Seventeen,” Parker finally called. “What’s out there in the distance on a hillside in the field-of-view of the camera? The camera is pointing at it. …Oh, I’ll bet that’s the Italian [flag]…” He finally realized that the TV camera had picked up the small flag on the top of the EP-5 antenna without picking up the antenna itself. With no depth perspective on the screen in the MOCR, the flag appeared to be lying on top of a hill in the distance.

“We’ve got to get a distance [to drive]…” Then, responding to Parker, he asked, “Which hill? Let me see where you’re [looking]…

“…that’s the flag, I bet,” Parker continued, “on the charge.”

“Yeah, you’re looking right at it, but it’s only 10 meters away.”

“Okay. It’s hanging in front of the hills. That’s the problem.”

“You’re looking right at the flag.”

“Okay. It’s hanging in front of the hills. We thought we had an artifact [in the TV] or something like that. Okay. Press on…”

Getting back to business, I said, “Bob, bag 486 (79215) is a light-colored rock taken about 3 meters to the right of the Rover. You should be able to pick it out in that last pan, unless the focus was bad.”

Fig. 12.225. Cernan is working with the double core tube. The trench location (Fig. 12.217↑) is marked nearby by the dashed oval. Rock sample 79215 is shown in situ and in the Lunar Sample Laboratory under similar lighting in the inset at bottom. The explosive package EP-5 with its small “Italian” flag at the top of the antenna mast is at right— not an easy target for the TV camera, a backward view over my side of the LRV. The “hills” referred to by Parker is probably the long plateau, informally called the “hump”. (NASA photos AS17-143-21837; S73-19590).

Fig. 12.226. Another view of sample 79215 in the laboratory. A large scale convergent stereo 3D anaglyph of it is given here. (NASA photo S74-15227; anaglyph with -15227b).

Fig. 12.227. Part of Pan 28 of Fig. 12.210↑ showing the LRV parked near the rim of the shallow, unnamed crater (also marked in Fig. 12.211↑). A large white boulder on the rim is marked by the arrow. It can also be seen by enlarging this 2-frame version here. (Combination of NASA photos AS17-142-21817, -18).

[Post mission examination of 79215 revealed that it is an unusual, troctolitic anorthosite (olivine and plagioclase) and made up dominantly of equal granular crystalline Ca-plagioclase (80%) with intersertal olivine (10%), ortho- and clinopyroxene (8%), apatite (1%) and groups of oxide minerals (1%), the latter including chrome spinel, ilmenite, armalcolite, troilite, rutile and metallic iron. Mineral compositions appear relatively constant (An92-90, Fo72-86, En78, Di90), however, corona assemblages of plagioclase and olivine surround the oxide groups. The plagioclase-rich matrix makes up about 72% of the rock, the remainder being generally fine-grained, sharply defined clasts of anorthosite and troctolite. Equilibrium between pairs of ortho- and clinopyroxene and olivine and ilmenite appears indicate that the rock has been recrystallized (annealed) at about 800-950ºC. Significant Cobalt and Nickel in the troilite (FeS) strongly suggests meteoritic contamination of the rock. If, however, 79215 is a recrystallized (metamorphosed) sample of the lower mantle (along with 72415 and 76535), as I suspect (Chapter 13), the Cobalt and Nickel in troilite may be relics of the migration of dense, immiscible Fe-Ni-S liquid that separated from the lunar magma ocean and migrated downward to join the lunar core.

The track exposure age of 79215 is 3.7 million years; however, more recent analyses of comic ray exposure give Ar exposure ages of 170 ± 10 and 340 ± 24.2 million years. The reason for these disagreements, or for a complex exposure history, is not known.

Sample 79215 probably is ejecta from Van Serg, a possibility supported by the observation of large, light-colored clasts in boulders that make up the mound in the crater floor and large, white boulders in the ejecta blanket (AS17-142-21817; Fig. 12.227↑ above). This possibility would be consistent with, but not definitive proof of the above hypothesis that the pre-impact regolith had developed on a knob of Sculptured Hills-like Mg-suite material (Chapter 13). Also supporting this hypothesis is the latest (2008) 40-39Ar age of 3.871 ± 0.040 billion years the error range of which spans the 3.83 ± 0.04 and 3.78 ± 0.08 billion year span of 40-39Ar ages for the estimated age of Imbrium (Chapter 13). The latest age for re-crystallization of 79215 also would be consistent with Van Serg being located on the remnants of a knob of Sculptured Hills-like Imbrium ejecta as discussed previously in connection with Station 8 samples 78235 and 77236.]

Traverse to Challenger

“Bob, you got all your TGE readings?” Cernan asked.

“Roger. We’ve got that. We’d like to have you climb on.”

“You want the LCRU OFF?” Parker had forgotten this last step in pre-drive preparations.

“Roger. Let’s go to LCRU Power OFF.” Cernan complied.

“Okay, Jack, …we better get going.”

“Yeah. …You know, I don’t think there is any subfloor in here. The rocks are so dust covered that it’s hard to be sure, but no rock I picked up looked like subfloor.”

“Get on there one time,” Cernan said, standing at the front of the Rover to get shots of me jumping up into my seat (Fig. 12.228, below). (AS17-134-20452-54)

Ready?” I asked as I got in to position to jump. Then I jumped.

“I got three of them that time,” he said to my laughter.

Fig. 12.228. View of me above the right hand Rover seat after jumping up with a leftward side motion. Configuration of the front of the rover is clearly shown, including from left to right, right front wheel and suspension, the TV camera, covered battery compartment, battery radiators, LCRU communications system, and OMNI and High Gain antennas. Note also that the TV camera is pointing backwards towards me, only a small change in direction from the EP-5 antenna and “Italian” flag off the left edge of the photo. (NASA Photo AS17-134-20453).

“Seventeen, Houston. Do you read me through the LM?”

“You’re loud and clear,” I answered.

“I hope they (the pictures of you) came out,” Cernan said as he positioned himself to jump into his seat.

“…I hope it’s (my seatbelt) untwisted this time, so I can get off.”

“Oh, let’s see. If old ‘twinkle toes’ (Cernan) can do it (get on the Rover). Jack, there’s a big one (a rock) right there, in my floor pan…” In kicking his right foot up, he caught a part of the Rover frame and fell again as he did at Station 8. “That’s what I did last time.” Without a slope into the Rover wheel, getting up and doing it right was no problem this time.

“Okay. I’m on, strangely enough,” I reported as I worked in the blind to attach my seat belt… “Okay.”

“Let’s see,” Cernan mused. “Okay. The charge is off to the right…”

“Yeah, you’re all right, I assured him, as I had placed EP-5 about 10 meters away from the Rover. “You can clear it this way or…”

“Yeah. I see it.”

“Okay. …I bet you they thought there was some more orange soil over there on the hills,” I said, referring to the MOCR’s mistaken impression of the orange flag on the charge’s antenna (see Fig. 12.225↑).

“Get out of this block field, we’ll be able to move it [faster] a little bit.

“I wonder where we stand on time.”

“Well, we’ve been out about 5 hours and 20 minutes or so,” Cernan said, referring to his stopwatch.

“Where are we headed,” I asked, “now that we are moving?”

“Well, I’m trying to get out of the block field here, then I’ll head back to the southwest…”

Fig. 12.229. We have just left Station 9. Cernan has turned the Rover around and is heading south. The large block seen at right was also observable in the southern part of my Pan 29 (see anaglyph in Fig. 12.222↑, right of center). Part of our incoming tracks to Station 9 can be seen in this photo just right of the TV camera. (NASA photo AS17-143-21859).

Gatsby, Sherlock, and San Luis Rey Craters

“We going to Sherlock (Station 10) at all, Bob?” I enquired. “No, we’re going straight home…,” answering my own question.

“That must be Gatsby [Crater] over there,” I observed, looking to my front right.

[Traverse photographs AS17-143-21860-63 cover Cernan’s maneuvering across the Van Serg ejecta blanket. They add to the indications that there is an apparent dichotomy between large boulders and small regolith breccia blocks.]

“Seventeen,” you can follow the [range and bearing] home,” Parker advised. “And a reminder, Jack, we can get lots of photos. We’ve got lots of film left right now.”


“And, Seventeen… Gene, I guess you’re the one that took the SEP out. Do you remember the reading of the SEP temperature when you broke it down?”

“Didn’t even look, Bob.”

“It (SEP) was 125 when we started the station,” I reminded him.

Fig. 12.230. Cernan has pointed the LRV towards Gatsby to allow me to take a photo of the western wall. The contrast has been stretched and brightness decreased to bring out the distribution patterns of the wall blocks and regolith streams on the walls. Gatsby at ~216 m across, is more than twice the size of Van Serg Crater which is only ~90 m across. (see Fig. 12.13↑, §1; Gatsby is just below Van Serg adjacent to the Station 9 marker). Gatsby also has an uneven interior— its west wall is 40 m above the floor, while its east wall is only 20 m high. Van Serg is only ~15 m deep. (NASA photo AS17-143-21864).

“That’s Gatsby there, I guess, huh?” Cernan asked.


“It’s not unlike Van Serg, though,” he commented. I did not have this impression (Fig. 12.230); however, I did not comment, being more interested in other observations.

“Hey, you know that looks like the mantling. …Hopefully, we can get a… Watch your rock [on the right]. There you go. …We can get a shot looking back to the northwest…into Gatsby, because it looks like the [dark gray] mantle streams over the side from the southwest. Can you swing to your right and get up a little closer to the rim, there?”

“Yeah, I’ll get that when I [turn]. …Hey, there is a couple fragments in spots…”

“Look at that,” I said, pointing. “See that? See that structure. See how the…see how the mantle streams over [the rim of Gatsby]…”

“Yeah; from the northwest,” Cernan added. “Can you get that [photo]?”

“Yeah…And from the southwest.”

Fig. 12.231. Cernan is swinging around to drive south of Gatsby. In so doing, I was able to capture this shot which shows the dark mantle streaming over the southwest rim of Gatsby. The mantle streaming over the northwest wall is also visible in the previous figure. (NASA photo AS17-143-21868).

“Got it?”

“Yeah. Go ahead. Keep going. …[We’re in] good shape. Got it.”

“We’re [at] 236/2.1…”

“Bob, what I’m looking at is the northwest portion of Gatsby, where there’s a very, very concentrated block field on the inner wall; except where there are, on the southwest, three streams and, on the northwest and north, a continuous [dark gray] stream – if you will – or radial band of mantle that appears to be burying that field (or) overlying and mantling the [block] field. We got some pretty good pictures of it, I think.” (Fig. 12.230↑, Fig. 12.231↑).

“…Bob, I’m more and more convinced there’s a mantle. (Pause) One possibility, I guess, is that, if it’s a pyroclastic mantle, that in the lunar vacuum environment and with whatever volatiles we’re dealing with, the stuff becomes extremely fine upon vesiculation. We may have been on it [the dark mantle] all the time and not known it…[that is], as far as recognizing it.”

[I am getting close to the geological truth with these comments, lacking only the realization that the pyroclastic orange and black ashes, like those sampled at Shorty we would learn later, have been incorporated in regolith being developed on the surface of the subfloor basalt. The apparent mantling of the block field in Gatsby would probably be from rays of ejecta produced by nearby cratering. In Chapter 13, I discuss how regolith ejecta probably extends many crater diameters from an impact, and the observations at Gatsby appear to be evidence of that as are the regolith zones in the deep drill core.]

“See, as soon as we come through this draw, [notice] how smooth or free of any debris or boulders it (the crater ejecta blanket) is on the other side of the upslope.” 

[This noticeable smoothness around Gatsby is clearly visible in LROC images, as well, and suggests that Gatsby is somewhat older than Camelot at 445 Myr (smooth ejecta surface and wall boulders at the rim of Camelot) and younger than Horatio at ~1075 Myr (fewer boulders exposed on the wall of Horatio).

Examination of the traverse photographs around Gatsby do not support any similarity with Van Serg, as there is no significant concentration of regolith breccias at its rim or on its ejecta blanket (AS17-143-21864-68). Frames 21864-68 (Fig. 12.230↑, Fig. 12.231↑) show the interior of the crater and the dark material streaming down the wall. The distribution of patches of boulders on the walls, but not at the rim of Gatsby suggests that it may be younger than Horatio Crater and certainly older than Camelot Crater.]

“Yeah. …Watch it!” I warned, as a boulder appeared ahead of us.

“Yup. …Bob, do we have an extra EP (Explosive Package)?” asked Cernan.

“No,” answered Parker. “We have two of them [left] behind you. We’re going to deploy one [on this drive]. I’ll give you a reading soon on that.”

“Okay. Well, one [charge] I deploy at the end,” Cernan recalled. “I know [at the Rover final parking site]. I thought we had an extra one here somewhere.”

“Yeah, that’s the one we were planning on deploying all along, and it’s there [when you park the Rover]. We’ll be deploying [the other] at a range of 0.1, which is just before you get to the SEP.”

“ Okay. …[Jack,] I guess Sherlock’s going to be right over the top over here. I saw it when we were on that other ridge. …Hey, you know, there’s a lot of bad landing places around here. That low Sun angle, I think, shows most of them up.”

[Sherlock Crater is ~500 m in diameter and has both a blocky rim and a blocky ejecta blanket. It is one of the many craters that make up the Crater Cluster that includes Steno that we visited late on EVA-1 (Station 1, Chapter 10; also see Fig. 12.17↑, §1).]

“And, Geno,” Parker said, “we were looking…at the map here and, if you keep going straight to the LM, you’re probably going to run into this crater area around San Luis Rey [Crater]. You probably ought to head somewhat south of directly back to the LM, so we can at least tip the western edge of Sherlock and then pick it up and go from there back to the SEP. It looks like it might be rather rough there in that dotted-lined area, if you can look at the backside of your map, Jack.” Parker referred to the traverse sketch and contour map on the back of the photomap showing the Sherlock Crater area. (See also our cuff checklist map, Fig. 12.232 below).

Fig. 12.232. The sketch map on our cuff checklist prepared a month before the mission. The western edge of Sherlock referred to by Parker would have been Station 10, as marked. The other numbers are bearing and range navigation numbers predicted before the mission. The roughness at Sherlock is indicated by the small crosses. Station 8 is indicated off the map by the red arrow and ‘x’. South is at the top. (LMP/CDR-24, in the ALSJ).

“Bob, I’ve already been doing it,” replied Cernan. “I’m at 244/1.7.”

“And, Bob,” I called, after trying to say something before this last exchange, “about 200 meters back, we crossed back into our standard mantle surface of about one percent fragment cover [when we came] out of the block field, which… I can see the LM.”

“Yeah, I can see the LM,” repeated Cernan. “And there’s Sherlock, where those blocks are.”

[Frames AS17-143-21871-72 show our direction to the south towards the rim of Sherlock Crater following the map in the checklist in Fig. 12.232↑, above. The continuing view of a very large boulder before we approached Sherlock Crater helps to define our route back to the Challenger through frames 21874-82. This large boulder (“Big Rock”) is also visible in Apollo 17 Pan Camera frame 2309. Frames 21883-86 indicate that this latter part of the traverse crossed the ejecta blanket from Sherlock, including a large block on the eastern Sherlock rim. ]

“Yeah, that’s the block field, the ‘Sherlock block field’; that’s right. That is a block field!”

“Some big ones there,” Cernan noted.

“Yeah. Old Station 10, (see Fig. 12.232↑)…I might even call it “10 Alpha” in honor of the Apollo Program Office – the Apollo Spacecraft Program Office (ASPO)”

“ ‘10 Bravo’, Apollo.”

“Oh, that’s right! ‘10 Bravo’. I knew I’d never get that straight!” Parker apparently was using “Bravo” to mean “job well done, ASPO”.

Fig. 12.233. First view of the Big Rock, or large boulder, SSW of Gatsby on our way towards Sherlock Crater. The image has been darkened and contrast stretched to bring out surface detail. (NASA photo AS17-143-21874).

Fig. 12.234. A closer view of the Big Rock on the route between Gatsby and Sherlock. Surface detail has been enhanced. (NASA photo AS17-143-21878).

Fig. 12.235. The last and closest photo I made of the Big Rock. Its size can be estimated from the LROC QuickMap as ~9-10 m across. The 10.3° separation of the reseau crosses therefore indicates that it lies between about 34 m and 38 m away. As Cernan drove closer for me to examine it, he reported the bearing and range from the console. These observations can also be calculated from the LROC QuickMap for comparison as given below. (NASA photo AS17-143-21882).

“Do those blocks look like [subfloor] gabbros to you guys?” asked Parker.

Ignoring Parker, Cernan asked me, “How fast do you think we’re going, Jack, without looking?”

“I think we’re going about 18 clicks.”

“Hey, you’re just about right. …Seems like the first time we’ve been able to go downhill,” he said with a laugh, but then said, “Not really…,” remembering coming off the Jefferson-Lincoln Scarp toward Station 3 on EVA-2 (Chapter 11),

“Pull close to this big block,” I requested so I could get a good look, “if you can over here.”

“Oh, yeah.

“And I’ll try to get a reading on what it is,” I explained.

“[Take] Some pictures of it as we come up to it.”


“Boy that’s a big one…”

“Watch it!,” I warned… “Looks like our old friend, the subfloor. …Isn’t it? …Yep. Vesicular subfloor. Vesicles are about a centimeter maximum size. They look like they’re fairly evenly sorted (random size distribution). And the rock itself seemed to be massive (structureless).”

“250/1.4 (bearing and range),” Cernan reported.

Fig. 12.236. A right triangle with the left vertex at the SEP transmitter, and the right upper vertex on the Big Rock. The lower right vertex completes the triangle. QuickMap provides the coordinates of each vertex. The bearing (and also in this case, the heading) is 180° plus the inner angle at the upper vertex. The range is the hypotenuse. Calculations give 256/1.32 for the bearing and range, which compares favorably with Cernan’s reading of 250/1.4. A larger scale version of this photo is available here.

“Okay, we’re back into about a five percent rock cover as we cross the edge of the Sherlock block field.”

“That’s Sherlock over that rim over there,” Cernan said.

Fig. 12.237. The first of four photos I took as we headed south towards Sherlock after passing the Big Rock. The black arrow points to a boulder on the ENE rim of the crater that turned out to consist of multiple blocks. The upslope and the increase in the frequency of boulders indicate that we are on the ejecta blanket of the crater. (NASA photo AS17-143-21883).

Fig. 12.238. Cernan began a wide turn towards the west drawing us closer to the large boulder upslope on the rim of Sherlock, indicated by the black arrow. (NASA photo AS17-143-21884).

Fig. 12.239. In this view turning more to the west, we are higher on the outer slope of Sherlock Crater and can discern the base of the rim boulder group. The several boulders on the inner slope of the rim just west of those in this image (see Fig. 12.240, below) cannot be seen because they are hidden by this group at the top of the rim. We should have driven right up to this boulder since it looks like there might be a contact between two flows in the block with probably a little regolith developed between them. There is certainly a relatively large fillet all along the base. These features can be examined in the high resolution version available here. The almost level horizon permits an estimate of the distance to the blocks by measuring the size of the main boulder with the LROC QuickMap measuring tool. It averages ~15 m across (3 measurements), which means it lies ~73 m in front of us. This distance can also be checked by direct measurement (see next figure). (NASA photo AS17-148-21885).

Fig. 12.240. A line on the path indicated on this LROC QuickMap view of Sherlock Crater is directed ESE downslope to a point where the outer slope of the crater levels off (see sidebar at left). Fig. 12.239 indicated that we passed by the boulders in a turn driving towards them. The LROC image above shows a darker curving zone just east of the boulders that represents a level area hooking around the crater towards the north. Cernan has been following this curving zone taking us somewhat south of the boulder group and swinging us back towards the north. The blue line indicates that the distance from the main boulder to the point (red dot) where he turned west is 74 m. The photogrammetric calculation from Fig. 12.239 is in good agreement. An enlarged view of this measurement can be seen by clicking the bit.ly link in the credit line. (QuickMap photo at https://bit.ly/3c76OXQ).

“Yeah. Yeah. …Once again,” I continued, “all these subfloor blocks look as if they’re buried. Not mantled, necessarily, except maybe that one. …Can you swing right, just a tad?”

“That one’s got the mantle blowing (laying) up on it…in it’s fractures and everything.” In retrospect, this appearance could be duplicated by a local impact’s ejecta rather than an actual mantling event as was suspected at the time.

“Yeah. …That’s the best example of that, I think.”

“Take a picture of that?”

“I got it. I got it. Watch [out]…”

“Got it; got it.”

Fig. 12.241. The last photo I took of the boulder group upslope shows that Cernan is headed almost due west. In the background at left is part of the South Massif; the boulder group blocks about half of West Family Mt. in the center; and at right is Family Mt. Cernan turned north at this point in order to head to our next destination, the brief stop at LRV-12 NNW of Sherlock. (NASA photo AS17-143-21886).

Now, do those blocks look like the same subfloor gabbro?” asked Parker.

“Yeah, that’s just got the mantle…”

“Watch it!” I interrupted. “[There’s] another one (block). …Yes, [Bob]. Everything in here, so far, is the tan-gray subfloor gabbro that I’ve seen. I haven’t [seen the blue-gray variety]. …Oh, there’s one over there that’s the blue-gray. But blue-gray is not abundant.” The tan-gray color may result from prolonged exposure to solar wind spallation and micro-meteor impacts that result in the surface deposition of a thin brownish glass patina.

“And, Seventeen,” Parker called, “as you’re getting closer, we’re going to want an LRV sample at 1.1 (km) on the range.”


“What are we now?” I asked. “1.2?”

“1.2,” Cernan confirmed.

“Okay, [Bob,] we’ll try to get [a] block (fragment) and soil. …There’s a fresh little pit. …Bob, I am continually impressed by the lack of exotic fragments in here.” My comment refers to the lack of obvious fragments of Massif breccias on the valley surface that would have come from impacts on the high mountains on either side. This apparent discrepancy is true, even taking into account that most such fragments introduced into the valley between about 3.8 and 3.5 billion years would have been covered by orange and black ash and then mixed into regolith developed on the valley floor, that is, the dark mantle. Small particles of Massif breccias exist in regolith samples from Stations 1 and 5, from around the Challenger, and from various Rover samples from the dark mantle.

“Okay, Jack. How about picking out a place [for a sample]?”

“Okay. If you head into that little [flat area there]…well, that’s a crater there.”

“Let me get around it,” Cernan said. “We can go a little bit further.”

“Yeah. Maybe…”

“I’ll go up on that flat area up there.”

“Yeah, yeah,” I agreed. “There are a lots of little fragments over there.”

“ ‘Flat area’; ha, ha…[I can stop] any time,” Cernan told me.

“Okay. Now swing a shallow [right] turn…Whoa…Well, I don’t [see any I can reach]”

“Can you get any of those?”

“Unfortunately, I can’t see them [in] the [Rover] shadow,” I replied.

“How about that one right in front of you, in front of the television camera shadow. See that little one up there? Right there.”

“…It’s a little big, I think.”

“Upper right…no, upper right. Straight up the line,” Cernan described, referring to a line of shadow.

“Oh, okay. Yeah. If you can get over there, I can get it.” I had my chin way down in my suit, trying to see over the edge of the Rover frame.

“I can get there…”

“Oh, I guess I had the wrong [one in mind],” I said. “I guess I wasn’t looking at the right one. The [Rover] shadow is making it impossible to see down there. Now, see what you can get [with this scoop].” Our approach to the location of this Rover sample is shown in AS17-143-21887-93.

Fig. 12.242. The Rover sample site LRV-12 in front of the Rover, i.e., to the right of the TV camera marked by the dashed oval. Samples 70311-15 and 70320-24 were retrieved from this approximate location. (NASA base photo AS17-143-21893. Based on Wolfe et al.[7]).

“Bob, we’re at 253/1.1 (bearing and range).”

[Bearing and range calculations using the LROC QuickMap polygon measuring tool indicates values of 264/1.1. Cernan may have meant 263 for the bearing, but misread it because of sunlight striking the console and the thin layer of dust on it.]

“You’re going to have to [move right a little more]. …If we do another sample [to get a rock], you’re going to have to swing right so I can see. I can’t see this way.” Cernan needs to turn facing north so that the rocks are out of shadow.

“And 53 Yankee (70320-24),” Cernan noted.

“Copy that,” Parker responded. “Is that soil or rock?”

“That’s soil,” I said. “I can’t see to get a rock. …Go forward just a little bit, Gene. …Except you’re going to get yourself in a box here.”

“No, that’s all right.”

“Whoa. …A little more, …sorry…little more. Okay.”

“Get it?”

“I will. …Got it,” I finally reported.

“I can’t see the LM anymore.”

“Okay. The rock fragment…” I began.

“That’s 54 Yankee (70311-15),” Cernan finished for me as he could read the number on the sample bag. Our documentation photographs of this area for the Rover sample are AS17-143-21894 and AS17-134-20455 (Fig. 12.242↑).

[Post-mission examination of the fragment, 70315, indicated that it is medium-grained vesicular ilmenite basalt with porphyritic (coarser-grained) aggregates of clinopyroxene and ilmenite in a feathery (plumose) matrix of Ca-plagioclase, clinopyroxene and ilmenite. The surrounding regolith, 70311-14, consists of basalt and breccia fragments, glass and agglutinates similar to its companion sample, 70320-24.]

Fig. 12.243. Two different views of sample 70315. Convergent stereo anaglyphs of these views can be downloaded here (left); and here (right). (NASA photos S73-23807 (left); and S73-23797 (right). The “B” sample nos. provided the corresponding pairs for the anaglyphs).

“Awgh!” I grunted as I almost dropped the sample while putting it in the Rover SCB. “Okay. You got a [big] rock right in front of you, don’t you?” Cernan had begun to get back on course to the Challenger.

“I see it.”

“Rolled over [the rock]. Good old Rover,” I marveled as the right wheel went over the rock, easily. “LMP frame [count] for that sample…looks like about six-zero…six-zero! Have I taken sixty pictures [since leaving Van Serg]?”

“Boy, these rock fields are something else again.”

“Yeah, 60…” Thinking out loud, I said, “Looks like some of our [blue] gray variety of subfloor up here, around the rim of that little crater. You know, I’m starting to think that maybe the [blue] gray, relatively-nonvesicular subfloor may be (the) deeper fraction, based on what we saw. …Well, actually, though, …let’s see, that could have been overturned [by that impact]. …I don’t know. [I] take that back. There just isn’t much of it around here, although we saw a lot of it in the wall of Cochise.”

[Along with Steno, Powell, and many other craters, Sherlock is part of the freshest large craters in the valley and make up what has become known as the Crater Cluster (Fig. 12.17↑, §1). As yet unexplained (see Chapter 13), the M3 remotely sensed mineralogical data indicates a significant difference in mineral composition of the regolith and ejecta around the Crater Cluster versus the rest of the dark mantle surface in the valley. This distinction suggests that a swarm of impacts of secondary ejecta, moving at near escape velocity created this aggregation of craters, ejecta from which also appears to form a distinct zone within the deep drill core, and maturity relationships in that core indicated the Crater Cluster formed ~389 Myr ago, based on a 445 Myr age for Camelot Crater (Chapter 13).

Traverse photographs taken during this portion of our route across Crater Cluster ejecta are AS17-143-21895-923. These images also suggest that most of the exposed boulders do not have significant concentrations of large vesicles or of zones of vesicle concentrations. Some large boulders, such as near the rim of San Luis Rey (21910-11), however, show roughly parallel fractures that may reflect zones of vesicular weakness. This probably indicates the more highly vesicular upper portions and surfaces of the original lava flows have been incorporated into the dark mantle regolith along with the orange and black ashes.

The Challenger appears again in images 143-21902, -21909 as well as in AS17-134-20456.]

“Roger. We got that.”

“What do you think this is, San Luis Rey [Crater]?” I asked Cernan. “We’re at 252/0.9.”

“I wouldn’t doubt it at all,” he replied.

“I’ll bet that’s San Luis Rey.”

“We’re on the east side of it,” Cernan said. Mariner and San Luis Rey [Craters] …they’re shallow – filled with rocks.”

As close as we can tell, you’re at one or the other of them (Mariner or San Luis Rey).”

“Boy, I tell you they’re a lot [of rocks],” Cernan noted…Okay. We’re at 250/0.9.”

Mariner should look pretty fresh [as impact craters go],” I reminded myself. “Boy, I certainly don’t see much variety other than the gray and the tan subfloor varieties. …There’s old Challenger.”

“There she is. Pretty as a picture. …Boy, I tell you, there’s no getting out of this stuff (the boulder fields). You go from one to the other.” We were retuning to the Challenger through the north edge of the Sherlock-Steno-Powell Crater Cluster.

“I don’t know whether I said it or not…”

“Gene, at a range of 0.1,” Parker broke in to my verbal thought, “we’re going to deploy the quarter-pound charge, and that’ll be Jack’s getting off to deploy it like we talked about last night.”

“Okay. …That’s EP-2, Jack.”

“EP-2; right. … Bob, we’re moving in and out of areas of, say, 1 percent to 5-to-10 percent blockiness. And where it gets blocky, not only is it more blocky, but we seem to have more of the medium-sized craters in the range of 20- to 50-meter-diameter craters. …[Gene,] That may be Mariner right there. …How do you read, Bob?

Loud and clear. Loud and clear.”

Van Serg, let me mention again, was an unusual experience in the plains geology here,” I said, referring to the regolith breccias in its ejecta rather than hard basalt fragments. “[Gene,] That must be part of San Luis Rey or Mariner, one of them.”

“Yeah. That’s pretty deep. Pretty deep.”

“Yeah, it is.”

“It’s really big,” Cernan noted, looking across the largest crater of the San Luis Rey crater complex. San Luis Rey consists of a linear group of five craters, ranging in size from ~87 to ~193 m in diameter.

“Yep. …We’re at 252 and 0.6. …The crater on our left – that is, south of us – is a large crater. It’s somewhat deeper than (other) craters of the same size (diameter) that we’ve seen. And it, too, though, has large blocks mainly in the walls, although there are blocks up here in the rim, occasionally up to 3 meters [wide]. …Look at that string of blocks over there; that may be it (San Luis Rey).”


“That’s an edge of a crater, I guess.”

“Want a picture of that?”

“Got it…”

“Look at the way that thing’s fractured,” Cernan pointed out. “Yeah, this is the San Luis Rey complex, because see how elongated it (the line of craters) is?”

“Yeah. Yeah.”

Fig. 12.244. Part of San Luis Rey Crater is located at left under the HGA pointing handle. Challenger can be clearly seen ~400 m away just left of the large reseau cross. At right is a small part of the “fractured” boulder seen more completely in the next figure. (NASA photo AS17-143-21909).

Fig. 12.245. A more direct view of the boulder north of San Luis Rey Crater. It can be seen in the LROC QuickMap (Fig. 12.246 below; also crater no. 5 of the San Luis Rey complex is above and to the right in the QuickMap view). The measuring tool indicates it is ~6.8 m in the N-S direction and this photo would place it ~39 m in front of us (see Fig. 12.246 below). Rather than “fractures”, however, the layers may represent flow contacts like the rim boulder at Sherlock (Fig. 12.239↑). A higher resolution image is available here so that the structure of the boulder can be examined. (NASA photo AS17-143-21911).

Fig. 12.246. An LROC QuickMap view of Sherlock to San Luis Rey. BR = Big Rock. LRV-12 = Rover sample site no. 12. FB = Flow Boulder at San Luis Rey. Numbers at left mark 4 of the 5 components of the San Luis Rey crater complex (no. 1 is below the blue sign at lower left and off the edge of the photo). These craters range in size from 87 m to 193 m for the largest which most maps mark as “San Luis Rey” as is done here. Mariner Crater, neighboring on the right, is ~55 m across. The Sherlock rim boulders are in two groups. The leftmost one can’t be seen in 143-21885 (Fig. 12.239↑) because they lie on the inner rim slope and are hidden by the outer group on the right. The boulder seen in 21885 is marked by the arrow. A higher resolution version is accessible in a separate window here; and the same photo with the conjectured route from BR to FB should open in another separate window here. By alternately clicking the window tabs for these last two photos, the dashed line route should turn on and off. The sine wave nature of the portion from LRV-12 to FB tends to follow a low albedo or darker zone, but is consistent with Cernan driving to avoid craters. The excursion from BR to the Sherlock rim boulder as detailed in previous figures (e.g., Fig. 12.240↑) also follows a dark zone. After leaving BR, Cernan was basically following the checklist sketch map in Fig. 12.232↑ south towards Station 10. (Base photo is from the LROC QuickMap accessible at https://bit.ly/3egFYio).

“Fact is, we’re going to cut right through the western half [of the San Luis Rey complex] here. …We’re at 244/0.4.”

[Using the boulder NNW of San Luis Rey as the point where Cernan reported this bearing and range, they can be computed using the QuickMap polygon tool. The results gave 262/0.42. Cernan again seems to have misread the number because a line with a bearing of 244° misses the SEP initiation point by more than 150 m to the south. Cernan may therefore have meant 264° when he looked at the console.]

Fig. 12.247. A quickMap view at 0.5 m/px of the area between San Luis Rey at right and Challenger at left (marked ‘LM’ with vertical white arrow). The location of the SEP transmitter is also marked ~150 m away to the right. LRV tracks between the LM and the transmitter are quite visible. The triangular and vertical dark lines above the SEP arrow are foot traffic and part of the layout for the cable antennae. The three short arrows mark the LRV tracks continuing to the right of the SEP transmitter but become lost at the point of the 3rd right arrow and the start of the dash-dot curve which is the conjectured path we followed from the boulder NNW of San Luis Rey at right. A larger, marked version in a separate window is accessible here; and the unmarked version, here. By clicking alternate window tabs the dash-dot route and short arrows marking the visible tracks will turn on and off.

“Bob,” I called, “I may have said early on – up there at Van Serg – that I saw subfloor [rocks], but we never did sample any that I know of. And the dust was thick enough that I’m just not sure. The [regolith] breccias were the most obvious thing there.”

“Okay. Most interesting.”

“It might have been a window in the [basalt covered] plains here, of some kind. But it’s strange to see it there, with so much subfloor all around it that we saw.”

[My immediate, after-the-fact speculation that the Van Serg impact event had penetrated a hill of materials other than subfloor basalt corresponded with similar, more detailed considerations given above and in Chapter 13 in connection with post-mission sample data related to Station 9.]

“And, Jack, you’re going to get a feedwater tone pretty soon,” Parker alerted.

“Got it (the tone),” I said, almost immediately. “…Okay, I should be in AUX [feedwater], now,” I reported after moving the switch on the lower right corner of my PLSS.

“252 and 0.2 [bearing and range],” Cernan reported… “There she (Challenger) is.”

[This bearing puts us level with where we were while approaching San Luis Rey Crater (see reading prior to Fig. 12.244↑). After passing Mariner, we traveled WNW to within ~40 m of the boulder then headed ~WSW past it and down towards Challenger (see Fig. 12.247↑), so the bearing would decrease from the computed value of 262° near the boulder.]

“And as soon as we get to the 0.1 (range),” Parker said, “let’s stop and deploy the charge.”

“All right.”

“Okay,” I agreed, “and then, I guess…”

“Then we’ll head back to the LM.” Cernan finished the thought that I hesitated to finish. “Yeah. I don’t go [drive] to the [ALSEP, Jack,]. …Unless you want to go to the ALSEP,” Cernan said, pulling my leg.

“I think I’m going to,” I responded with a laugh, suspecting that the Science Backroom will have one or two more things to try to get the Lunar Surface Gravimeter working. “When do I go to the [ALSEP], …oh, you [finally] go [back] to SEP. That’s right.” Cernan will park the Rover near the SEP transmitter at what we called the “VIP” site so that the TV could view our departure from Taurus-Littrow. The “VIP” name is in reference to the name of a launch viewing site at the Kennedy Space Center reserved for “Very Important Persons”.

“Yeah, I go to SEP when I…take the Rover around here.”

“We’re going to let you play the Return-to-the-ALSEP game there, Jack,” Parker confirmed my suspicions. “We’ve got a few things for you to do out there, when the time comes.”

“Okay. …[Is that range] 0.1? No. …We’re almost to SEP. We’re about…50 meters from SEP [transmitter].”

“Is it short of the antenna?” Parker asked. “…We’d like to have this [Explosive Package]…”

“You see, we can get to the end of the antenna,” I informed Parker.

“No, no. Let’s have it (EP-2) east of the antenna. If we are there, let’s deploy it right where you are.”

“Okay. We’re about 30 meters east of the antenna [end]. How’s that?”

“That sounds great.”

“Okay. And we’re measuring 221 and 0.2; 221 and 0.2.” This report by Cernan indicates that we will close the Rover’s navigation loop with a range error of 100-200 meters.

As I dismounted, I said, “There’s a rock [that] I stood up down there, and I want to get [it]. …It’s the only dense (fine-grained, non-vesicular) rock (subfloor basalt) [I have seen] (70215).” Cernan picked up another at Station 4 (74235) and put it in his pocket, but I had not seen it (Chapter 11). (I will pick up 70215 after I deploy EP-2 and Cernan drives me over to it, Fig. 12.250↓, Fig. 12.251↓)

“And it’s EP number 2 that we’re after, Jack, in case you didn’t follow us.”

“Hey, our gate’s open,” I told Cernan as I moved to the back of the Rover to retrieve EP-2.

“Cernan: It’s open!?” exclaimed Cernan.”

“Yeah. …But it looks like everything’s here,” I said, mistakenly, as the rake and the scoop with both extension handles were gone.

“How about the Big Bag?” he asked.

“Big Bag’s there. …It wouldn’t dare run away,” I assured everyone. The Big Bag, attached inside the gate to the GeoPallet, of course, contained several large, unbagged but documented samples. Their distinctive shapes would allow later identification of their location in the before-sampling photographs.

“Is that the gate or the pallet?” Parker inquired.

“The Pallet,” I replied, incorrectly, as the GeoPallet is inside the gate. “I’m sorry.”

“Well, that’s worse…,” Parker said

“Seems to ride all right that way (open and swinging),” I concluded. “Boy, that dust is getting into everything. …Dum-te-dum-dum. …Okay, I’m going to leave the gate like it is. Seems to be all right. …Okay. …EP-2. …where is that? There it is.”

“Hey, Jack,” Cernan asked, you’re just going to walk back from here, aren’t you?”

“I can, yeah.”

“Well, why don’t you just go turn the SEP receiver OFF? Oh, we did that. The receiver’s all done.”

“Sure, the transmitter… but you’ve got to come out here anyway.” Both of us are showing signs of fatigue. The SEP is finished and whether they are ON or OFF makes little difference.

“Yeah, I’ve got to come out here. Forget it.”

“I can do it.”

“No, I was just reading ahead [in the Checklist], but no sense [in changing]. Forget it.”

“One thing I want you…,” I began, but then interrupted as I started to deploy EP-2. “Okay. Pin 1. Pulled and safe. Pin 2. Pulled and safe. Pin 3 is pulled and safe. …And I’ll try to put it in a depression. …I’m going to put it in a depression, if you want… Okay. …And then I’ve got to take a pan, huh? …Will a “locator…” yeah. How about a “locator” to the LM?”

“Be fine,” Parker agreed.

“You going to get on, Jack, or walk back? Dealer’s choice.”

Fig. 12.248. My locator photo of the deployed EP-2. Cernan is seated in the LRV and the rear gate is wide open (see detail below. (NASA photo AS17-143-21924).

Fig. 12.249. Detail of the rear of the LRV from the previous photo. The gate is open from which it can be seen that the scoop and the rake are missing. From left to right, the gnomon is in its holder pouch; the BSLSS (buddy secondary life support system) is hanging on the rear of Cernan’s seat; the big bag is hanging in position at right; the chronopaque fender is no longer curved over the rear right wheel; and just to the right of the LRV, the SEP transmitter with its 3 black solar panels can be seen.

Fig. 12.250. While waiting for me to take my locator photo of EP-2, Cernan has also taken a photo of the LM. The SEP transmitter is to the right of the HGA mast and below the HGA pointing handle. The image has been darkened and the contrast stretched to bring out further details best seen in the higher resolution image available here.  In the enlarged view (click on SEP transmitter), the dark streaks or band running left and right from the SEP transmitter base are the LRV tracks in which the south and north antenna wires are located, respectively. The ALSEP site can be seen beyond the LM just to the left of the mast, and the American flag, a little further to the left. Geophone Rock is partly obscured at the right of the LM. The white rectangular object leaning against the strut on the right side of the LM is the “tools and instrument Quad III” pallet. Finally, the white horizontal arrow in front of the LM rear points to the rock 70215, described in more detail below. (NASA photo AS17-134-20457).

“I’ll get on. …Okay. ‘Locator’ to the LM (AS17-143-21924 and AS17-134-20457). I’ll give you a frame count, if I can read it. …90. …92.” My locator image, from about 195 m east of the Challenger, shows that back of the Rover and the swinging gate and Big Bag, along with the back of the Challenger. The inside clamp of the replacement fender on the right rear wheel has released and allowed some dust to stream through.

“You’re going to have to go left a little, I guess.” I had observed that Cernan would run over the SEP antenna on his current heading. We didn’t want to get that wire caught in the Rover wheels.

“Go left?”

“To avoid the (SEP transmitter) antenna,” I explained. (Fig. 12.250↑, enlargement, shows where the southern layout of the SEP antenna is located with respect to the LRV and LM).


“Yeah, we don’t have to worry about it (the antenna).”

“…We don’t have to worry about it, but I will anyway.”

“Go ahead,” I told him as I mounted the Rover again and didn’t bother to use the seatbelt.

“Okay. I’ll take it easy.”

“Oh, that’s all right. …I want to point out a rock to you I set up on end. …we need to get [it] in a bag. You can let me off there and I’ll carry it.”


“But drive close enough so I can reach down and use the Rover for support.”

“Where is it?” Cernan asked.

“It’s out over here. Between the [SEP and the Challenger]…

“On which side of that antenna?”

“It’s [nearer the LM],” I clarified.

“…Oh, there it is. Right there?”

“No. No, it’s out… It’s near the LM.”

“Oh, okay. …I can go across this thing (SEP antenna). I already did. …That [sample] bag is empty, isn’t it?” Cernan asked, seeing a bag on the surface ahead.

“Yeah, that’s one I lost. I mean, I dropped [earlier]. … Look’s like you got over (the antenna wire).”

“Yep.” So much for my worry about getting tangled with the Rover wheels.

“Yeah…” Seeing the rock I wanted, I said, “I think it’s that one there that’s sort of dark.”

“Up there, straight ahead?”


“Boot prints are by it. That must be it.”

“That’s it, yeah. Can you swing over so I can lean on the Rover when I pick it up?”

“Oh,” Cernan responded with a laugh.

“That’s good. No, that’s good. That’s perfect.”

Okay. You off?” Cernan asked.

As I left my Rover seat for the last time, I said, “Okay. I am now. …I’d hate to get run over this late in the game…” Leaning over to pick up the rock, I asked myself, “Well, now, what did I do that for?”

Knowing exactly what I had done, Cernan asked, “What did you do? Kick it under?”

“Yeah.” As I leaned over to pick up the rock, I took a step forward and kicked it under the Rover. It would have made a hilarious film clip. As I knelt down to reach under the Rover, I asked, “Need your oil changed?”

“Yeah. While you’re under there,” Cernan said, joining me in a laugh, “would you check my transmission, please? …Any bubbles on the inside of the tires?” I really laughed at this question.

“Okay. Have you got it (the sample)?”

“Yeah, I got it. Hey, Bob. I got my rock! It’s [from] halfway between the SEP and the LM.” As Cernan started to drive away, I yelled, “Wait, wait! Let me put it in the Big Bag. …It’s in the big bag (70215). …Okay. Go ahead.” My photographs AS17-143-21925-26 and Cernan’s AS17-134-20457 document this sample. Cernan also took three more images (20458-60) of the Challenger as he drove the last leg of our route back.

Fig. 12.251. The location of sample 70215, a fine-grained subfloor basalt, the largest and heaviest rock returned from the mission, originally weighing 8.11 kg. It lay ~65 m east of the LM (also see it pointed out in Fig. 12.250↑). I had upended it at the end of EVA-1 on the way back to the LM from the SEP site because I had noticed its massiveness and lack of vesicles, but left it in situ to pick up after our return on the EVA-3 circuit (Also see discussion in Chp. 10 about finding 70215↑). (Adapted from NASA photo AS17-143-21926).

Fig. 12.252. Fine-grained olivine basalt sample 70215 that was located between the LM and the SEP site (Fig. 12.250↑, Fig. 12.251↑) and found lying on the surface at the end of EVA-1. Micrometeoritic zap pits were found on all sides of the sample which indicates that it had been moved a number of times during its existence on the regolith. Because of its size and weight, pieces of it as “touchstones” were sent to 8 museums around the world. Two convergent stereo anaglyphs can be viewed in separate widows here and here. (NASA photo S73-24221; anaglyphs derived from NASA photos S73-24215, -215B; and S73-24221, -221B).

[A piece of 70215 is the rock people can touch at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and at several other locations, including the Space Centers in Houston and at Kennedy, and at the Museon in The Hague, Netherlands. A fifth piece of this sample is on display at the International Space Hall of Fame in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Three additional pieces were also presented to museums in Mexico, Canada, and Australia. It is the only Apollo moon rock that the public can actually touch. With millions doing just that each year, the slice of the Moon at the Smithsonian actually shows some wear and polish.]

“Is this that brown one you saw out here before, Jack?” asked Parker, referring to Cernan’s excitement over sampling a piece of brown packing material after we deployed the SEP transmitter on EVA-1.”

“No, it’s a gray one.”

“Oops,” I said, having lost track in my memory of the one sample of the aborted radial sample sequence from Van Serg.”


“Yeah, I just lost [track of] a sample. It’s in my pocket, I guess. …Let me get some tongs [off the gate].”


“Gene, you can go ahead. I’ll walk back.”

[Post-mission examination and analysis found that 70215 is an ilmenite-olivine, porphyritic basalt with a very fine-grained matrix of plagioclase and clinopyroxene. Ilmenite content is ~13% and olivine is ~6%. 70215 became the next to last sample of subfloor gabbros and basalts that we collected. Like basalt samples from other missions, particularly Apollos 11, 12 and 15, the Taurus-Littrow lavas proved to be quite diverse in mineralogy, composition, and radioisotopic ages, with the average apparent age of about 3.74 Ga. This diversity probably results from both separate eruptions over time and fractional crystallization of lava units that initially partially filled the original valley chasm (see Chapter 13).

The volumetrically dominant, high titanium basalt, that may have been a single, ~1200 m thick cooling unit, closely resembles the high titanium basalts collected at the Apollo 11 landing site in southern Tranquillitatis. Fractional crystallization (differentiation) of this magma unit resulted in the initial distinction of Type A and B basalts. The differentiation trends are reflected in an increase in titanium due to the initial separation and sinking of olivine, and the partial gravitational separation of plagioclase by floating from the primary magma, followed by ilmenite and clinopyroxene (see Chapter 13).

The very low-titanium basalts appear to be of limited volume and may have been derived through the gravitational separation of ilmenite and from the high-titanium basalt magma, differentiating in a magma reservoir below the valley. Similarly, the Type C basalt, with its depleted barium content, may have been derived from the high-titanium basalt magma by plagioclase removal through floatation.

As discussed previously in connection with Station 4, the moderately titanium-rich, orange and black pyroclastic ashes came from a volatile-rich eruption that was distinctly later (~300 million years) than the primary high-titanium basalt eruption in the valley. Very low titanium (VLT) basalt ash has been identified in regolith from the Sculptured Hills area; but its eruption relative to that of the titanium-rich basalt is not certain; however, the rarity of VLT ash in the dark mantle regolith suggests that it preceded the subfloor basalt between about 3.83 and 3.74 Ga, that is, after Imbrium ejecta (Sculptured Hills) and before subfloor basalt (Chapter 13).]

Ending the Last Lunar EVA

Okay, Bob. I’m back at the LM.” Cernan and I arrived at almost the same time.

“Roger. We have you back at the LM.”

“15.1, 12.0, and 001.” Respectively, these readings refer to the bearing to the SEP transmitter, the distance driven on EVA-3, and the range to the SEP (0.1km). As the SEP transmitter is close (~150m away) these errors are not significant. Our total distance traveled for the three EVAs was 35.9 km.

“Well, wait a minute,” Cernan said.

“Can you get it (seatbelt latch)? I got to get your bag…”

“I got it; I got it.”

“Let me get your bag (SCB-7) off…” I did this without Cernan even feeling me do it.

“I’m reading 80 on the amps, 78 on the amps, …correction, that’s amp-hours.” Cernan began going through his final status check on the Rover systems. “Voltages, 62 and 65. Battery 1 [temperature] is 132, forgot 0 [on battery 2]. Motor temps are 200 and 210 on the rear, 200 and 250 on the forward.”

[We had 242 amp-hours in the batteries at the start of EVA-1, so the total use for 36 km traveled over three EVAs was about 84 amp-hours. The LCRU could draw on the Rover batteries, and did so after set up for Ascent TV, but most of the time it used its own battery for which we had a replacement. Thus, we had significant margins had a fourth EVA excursion been possible relative to other mission consumables. Relative to the Apollo 15 Rover, we consumed about 1.58 amp-hours per kilometer while their Rover used 1.67.[8] Apollo 16 had about twice this consumption, possibly because of the loss of rear wheel steering.]

“We copy that,” Parker acknowledged. “Okay. And let me brief you here on the close-out tonight, 17. A number of things we’re going to do here that are slightly different. We’ve got some stuff for you over at the ALSEP, Jack, and I’ll get with you when you go over there. Nothing we have to worry about in the meanwhile. When we unload the Rover, we’re going to take the SESC (Special Environmental Sample Container, sometimes called the “short can”) out, and we’re going to use that to collect the contaminated sample out behind the [Challenger’s] footpad there as per plan, and when we take the traverse gravimeter off [the Rover], we’re going to want to get both a GRAV and a BIAS reading, because the pallet (gate) was [unlatched and] and (figuratively) swinging in the breeze there. Otherwise, let’s press on with the close-out, and we’ll get with you as times change…”

“Okay, Bob,” I began, going to my seat and looking at the Closeout items in the Cuff Checklist, the first one of which is to take my camera off and put it on my footpan, temporarily. “The core tubes [from under my seat] are going in SCB-7. …I mean, …yeah, [in] 7.” Meanwhile, Cernan activated the TV camera.

“You should have TV, Bob.”

“Rog. We have TV. Thank you…”

“Did you get my bag (SCB) already?” Cernan asked me.

“Yeah.” I took SCB-7 over to the footpad under the ladder and returned to the Rover.

Jack?” called Cernan.


“We’ll have one more [sample] to put in here (Big Bag). I’m just going to lay this [Big Bag] over here [on the ladder hook].” He is referring to the rock he would use in his closing remarks.


“The big one (the Big Bag). Man, there’s some big ones (rocks) in there, too.”

“We can get some of that subfloor [for the ceremony],” I suggested.

“Yeah, there’s one [rock] in my footpan, too. You see it there?”

“Yeah; we’ll have to [put it in the Big Bag, when we’re done]…”

“Why don’t you leave that [rock] there (in the footpan) for a minute?” Cernan suggests as he consults his Cuff Checklist, standing near the ladder. “Okay. What did you say about the TGE, Bob?”

“…We’d like to take [the] TGE [off the Rover], of course, as we planned. Take it off, and we’ll try and get both a GRAV and a BIAS reading [on the surface]. You might initiate one of them (the measurements) now. We’ll initiate another one later on. We’ve got plenty of time while it’s sitting on the ground there to do our thing with it.”

As Cernan switched to AUX on his PLSS feedwater, in response to a Low Feedwater tone, I took SCB-3 from the Rover console and took it to the ladder footpad.

“Stay where you are, Jack, [I need to get your SCB off].” This was SCB-5.

“I see where you’ve got a feedwater tone coming up pretty soon, Gene.”

As he removed my SCB, Cernan replied, “Bob, I already got it, and I’m in AUTO (meant AUX) [since] just about 30 seconds ago…” As he looked into my SCB, he asked, “How are we fixed for samples [in the various SCBs]? Here’s [SCB]-5, and it’s about 1/2 to 3/4 full.”

“Well, let’s dump…[SCB-]3 in there – the Rover samples,” I suggested.

“We’ve got to carry the SESC up [after we fill it]. …We probably ought to put the SESC in there, huh? If there’s room for it.”

“Where do you want the SESC, Bob?” I asked.

“Let’s put the SESC someplace where it’s accessible to get that contamination sample. We probably want to get it before you go off to the ALSEP, but there’s no real hurry on that. We’ll see what works in best. I’m not sure where the most convenient place for you [is].”

…Yeah. Why don’t we get it now,” I proposed, “and then we can have this bag [closed out]. …Let’s get it now. We can get the bag cleaned up. We can put it in bag 5.”

“Roger,” agreed Parker. “There’s probably not very many convenient places to put it. That sounds like a good idea to me.”

“Okay,” I concurred. “Let me get my scoop [off of the gate],” I said, forgetting that it had been lost after Station 9.

“Get your scoop. Let’s get it over with.”

“Say again, Bob. You want that…” Reaching the gate, I realized my error. “I don’t have a scoop, I don’t even have a rake.”

“They’re both gone, huh?”


Reading my mind, Cernan said, “Use your Rover sampler.”


“They both fell off when that thing (the gate) opened,” Cernan said, stating the obvious.”


“Here’s a full core tube we can’t forget,” he noted, looking under my seat.

“Yeah. Oh, that goes in the [SCB-7].”

“Is there room for it?”

“Yeah, why don’t you get that scoop (the LRV sampler) off (the Rover console), and I’ll put it (the core tube) over here in (SCB) 4. …I mean in 7.” I took the core tube over to the footpad and inserted it into SCB-7.

“That was a good time to lose it (the scoop),” Cernan said, and then continued with a laugh, “I’m glad we didn’t lose it any earlier. If we were going to lose it, that couldn’t have been more ideal.”

“Well, it’s appropriate, I guess,” I replied somewhat less philosophically. I had hoped to bring the scoop head back as a museum piece. It had done most of the sampling during three EVAs.”

“We’ve got two empty core tubes,” noted Cernan. “[I] feel like we took a lot of them (core samples), though.”

“We’ll get it. We’ll use them, maybe.” I had a plan for at least one core tube.

“Back here?”

“We confirm that [you have two empty core tubes and] three full core tubes,” interjected Parker. “[On the empties, don’t] worry about bringing [them] back, there.”

“Okay,” Cernan acknowledged. “Let’s get this [SESC sample] in. If we get it in, maybe [we’ll fill up SCB-5].”

“Here’s your thing (the SESC),” I told him.

“We’re going to get this SESC now, and get it out of the way, Bob.”

We moved quickly to a position behind the Challenger, Cernan hopping and I “skiing”. “Minus-Z, huh?” I said, “you want it in front of (west of) the minus-Z footpad? Looks like a good place.”

“Roger” Parker answered, still misusing the term “Roger” for “Affirmative”. “Sort of underneath where you probably had the solar side of the cosmic ray experiment, there. Between the footpad and the ALSEP doors, there.”

I took a pair of stereo photos as the before sampling documentation (AS17-143-21927-28) while Cernan removed the cap of the SESC. I then took a scoop of regolith and began filling the container, asking if it were “full.”

Fig. 12.253. The area in front of the minus-Z footpad where the SESC scoop of regolith was obtained, marked by the oval. It was designated as sample 70012. (NASA photo AS17-143-21927).

“Oh, I’ve got about an inch to go.”


“Let’s fill it up. …That’s good.”

“And both your feedwaters are up (to speed), Seventeen,” Parker informed us. “So things look good.”

“Thank you,” I responded.

“[Can you take] that white thing (the Teflon seal-protector) off for me?”

“…Yeah. Here, let me get [hold of it]. …There, you got ‘er. Okay. [I’ll] take a couple [of after pictures] over here (AS17-143-21929-30).” Cernan then twisted the rod through the screw cap so that the cap’s knife-edge cut into the indium seal around the open end of the Special Environmental Sample Container (SESC) (70012).

Fig. 12.254. I went around to the other side of the strut to take the “after” photos of the trench, here marked by the arrow. (NASA photo AS17-143-21929).

“Let me just go pat the [landing] radar,” Cernan said, recognizing a critical system that allowed us to land. “Good job. …[No landing] radar’s [been] built better.” This particular TRW built landing radar unit had originally been on LM-9, the Lunar Module first assigned to Apollo 15 but replaced by the Block II, three EVA capable, LM-10. Our specific radar unit had some problem late in the tests of the Challenger and needed to be replaced. As I recall, we also flew with LM-9’s original rendezvous radar.

“Bob, I’m on frame 96,” I reported, “and the ‘short can’ sample – [the] contaminated sample – is documented by two stereo pairs prior to that [frame]. And the before [photo also] is in the cosmic ray pictures.

“Okay,” Parker replied. “And which SCB is that going in, Jack?”

“Number 5,” I answered.

“The SCB (SESC) is in [SCB-]5. That what you asked?” Cernan interjected.

Realizing that Cernan had miss-spoke, I repeated, “Short can in 5.”

“Okay. And while you’re doing that, remember, I want inventories of the stuff as it comes off the Rover,” Parker ordered, unnecessarily, “and where you put it over there by the footpad, so we can help you keep track of it.”

“Okay,” I responded, we’ve got the Big Bag, …ah…bag 7, bag 5, bag 4 [all] at the footpad.”

“We’ve also got SCB-3 with the Rover samples in it on the Rover,” Parker suggested, “if you have any. …Yeah, you have some of those today.” He had missed my previous mention of these samples a few minutes ago.

“No, we emptied those into 5,” I reminded him.

As I returned to the Rover, Cernan put the TGE to near the right rear fender and said, “Okay, Bob. The Gravimeter’s on the surface. And you want a gravity reading and a bias reading, is that correct?”

“Roger. We’ll get the GRAV first…”

“MARK it,” called Cernan as he pressed the GRAV button.

“Let’s see, where am I?” Cernan and I both looked at our Cuff Checklists to regroup relative to the Closeout activities we needed to finish after Parker’s interruptions.

“Okay. ‘Gravimeter’,” he read.

“You’ve got another big rock over here from the [last station]…” I noted.

“It’s in my footpan.”

“That’s from Station 9, right?”

“Yeah. That’s what I told them. [At] Station 9, I got a football-size rock (79035; Fig. 12.224↑), and I’ve put it in there (the footpan)…” Now, looking at the repaired fender, he added, “Well, we eventually lost one clamp. Let’s see what we’ve got left on here.”

“Okay. Gene’s football-sized rock looks like it might be glass coated. And it might even have a shatter cone or two on it.”

“Okay, [Jack],” Cernan said. “I’ll let you get [the rock out of the footpan].” The description I just gave indicates that I had already done this.

Noticing that the TV camera was looking at the ground, I commented to Ed Fendell, operating the camera, “I don’t know what you’re focused on, …but here’s his rock.” I put the rock in front of the camera.

“And, Jack,” Parker began, “we’re making plans here, to change the camera usage at the end of EVA, here. And we’re going to let you take Commander’s camera out to the ALSEP and take a few photos which people think we need.” Parker was implying that he was not sure they really needed them. “And Gene’s going to take your camera out and document the geophone (Parker meant the last Explosive Package), when he deploys it. We will not deploy it (the Hasselblad) for the long-term experiment, however. And we’ll bring both [film cameras] back, and carry them to (in) the ETB when we get done.” Parker may have been tired or being distracted by a number of people clamoring for his attention. The “long-term experiment” statement referred to the original plan to leave a film camera on a Rover seat and pointed towards space for potential recovery in the future. Subsequent analysis would help determine the effects of long-term exposure of the camera lens to the space environment as well as providing a measure of cosmic-ray flux over that same time.


“Okay,” I acknowledged. “We’ve got to reverse the roles of the cameras here.”

“While you’re getting that,” Cernan said, again referring to his Cuff Checklist, “we’ve got to doff our harnesses. Let me… Before you take this [camera], …are you going to start loading the ETB yet or not?”

“Well, I’m just about there [in the Checklist].”

“Okay. I’ll be right with you.” Before turning the color film camera over to me, Cernan took a number of excellent photographs (AS17-134-2061-70) looking west that included Challenger, Rover, me, the general landing site area, and the half Earth visible to the southwest as our surroundings appeared near the end of EVA-3 (Figs. 12.255, 12.256, and 12.257, below).

Fig. 12.255. View of the half-Earth over the Challenger and the South Massif. (NASA Photo AS17-134-20461).

Fig. 12.256. View of the Flag of the United States, the MESA and Quad 1 of the Challenger, and me at the Rover, filling the ETB with film canisters. (NASA Photo AS17-134-20468).

Fig. 12.257. A good view of me working with the 500 mm camera and film canisters at Cernan’s seat. A comparison with Fig. 10.30↑ in Chapter 10 illustrates the accumulation of dust on my suit over three EVAs. (NASA Photo AS17-134-20472).</span

“Okay, Bob. I’ve got the cosmic ray in the ETB.” I said this to remind myself that I, at Parker’s request, had put the cosmic ray experiment in the ETB at the beginning of EVA-3 to reduce the effect of a “little solar storm” headed our way. Not much could be done to protect the two of us, but we sure took care of the experiment!

“Roger. Copy that. It’s been in there all along, hasn’t it?”

“Yup…” Then I went to work filling the ETB with return items. “Mag Foxtrot, or Franny, I guess, we changed it to ‘Franny’…Mag Donna… The DSEA…Mag Echo…Mag Linda…Mag Mary. …You through with the 500 [mm camera]?” I asked Parker.

“Roger. We’re through with the 500.

Cernan came back to the Rover and, having not been listening, asked, “Jack, where is the cosmic ray? Did you put that in the ETB already?

“Yeah. …I don’t think the 500’s working anymore, anyway,” I added.

“It was working last time I used it.”

“Yeah, it is,” I corrected, as I saw the frame count change as I cycled the film. “Yeah it is. Okay. Film cycle. Three times [before removing magazine Karen].”

“Look this away a minute,” Cernan commanded, still taking color photographs. Wait a minute. …Okay…”

After posing, I continued to fill the ETB. “Okay. In go the scissors…”

“I’m going to go get a gravimeter reading,” Cernan stated as he moved behind the Rover to where the TGE sat.

“Now, let’s see,” I mused as I looked underneath Cernan’s Rover seat. “I don’t [see]…there it is. …Okay. Mag Karen is in [the ETB].

“Copy that,” Parker answered. “That sounds like all of them to us.”

“Okay. And there are two [magazines still] on the cameras.”

“Bob, I’m reading 670, 010, 701; 670, 010, 701.”

“Copy that. We’re ready for a bias, Gene.”

“Okay. …[I’m pushing] BIAS; and it (the TGE light) is flashing. …Okay. Let me take a look around. Jack.”

“Yeah,” I agreed, as I placed the ETB on the hook on Challenger’s ladder.

“Was that [cosmic ray experiment] bag in there?” he asked.

“Yes. It’s (was) over here on the MESA.”

“Okay. …Let’s get rid of these tool harnesses. We don’t need those anymore.”

“You’ve (the harness) come loose on the right,” I told him. “[I] need to fix it for you. …Let me pull it off for you.”

“And remember,” Parker interjected, “when they [the harnesses] come off, guys, don’t get them tangled up in the hoses. …If you stand still (garbled)…if you stand still, we’ll have Danny untangle it.” Danny Schaiewitz served as one of our spacesuit engineers during training. This brought a laugh and a smile from both of us.

“Turn this way,” I requested. “Let me get the other side, [now]. Okay. That’s off.”

“Came off, huh?”


“You don’t have to get it around those hoses and everything [else]? …See if you can do it.”

“Works a lot better than the simulations, doesn’t it,” Parker said.

“They won’t find the other one,” Cernan said, as he threw his harness away. “Standby…”

“That’s the only fallacy [in the simulations],” I added. ‘They’re not even watching this [on TV]. Come over here and watch me, Ed (Fendell). …Oh, me. Let me have it.” I took hold of one of my harness straps to keep it out of Cernan’s way as he removed another strap.

“Wait a minute. Move over that way. He can’t [see us on TV]. Okay. …See if it comes off.”

“Can you see me?” I asked Fendell. “Nod your camera if you can see me.”

“Rog. We can see you,” Parker finally confirmed.

“It’s taking too long,” complained Cernan. “Just take it (the harness) off…”

Shaking my arm, I asked, “Is it off?”


“That is almost easier than at the Cape,” observed Parker, referring to training.

“Jack, wait a minute before you [run off]. …Hey, Bob, are we going to need those other core tubes?”

“We’d like to have you leave the two core tubes and the extension handle and the hammer, and I suppose the core cap dispenser here [at the Rover]. If we get back in time from doing all our appointed tasks at the VIP site and at the ALSEP, we’ll try and drive a double core here…to end things up with a bang.”

“No, don’t leave it there,” Cernan said, as I moved to throw my tool harness under the Challenger. “We’ll leave it here [on the Mesa].”

“Oh, that’s right. You got it.”

“We’ll play games with [using] the extension handle, but that’s all right.” Cernan was remembering that we lost both extension handles in the drive from Station 9. “Let me set them (the core tubes) over here [on the seat].”

“Where am I [in the checklist]?” I asked myself, going back a page to review. “Okay, …Big bag, …all those [SCBs]. …Don’t need the LRV sampler any more.”

“Seventeen, did you guys lose your extension handles when that pallet came open?”

“Yes,” answered Cernan, “but I can still drive a core with the hammer if we need to. …Yeah. One [extension handle] went with the rake, and one went with the scoop.

“Okay, Bob. As I read down that page (LMP-30), it looks like we got it. [Now,] the ETB check (on LMP-31): I think we had four mags in there, and the DSEA, and the maps, and the cosmic ray.”

“Roger. You’ve got six mags,” Parker corrected.

As I took the two unused core tubes to the Mesa, I said, “I guess I’m ready to go to the [ALSEP]. …Six mags, is it?

“Wait a minute,” Cernan said. “I want you to do something.

“One further question,” interrupted Parker, “did all the FSR’s (Football-Sized Rocks) get off the Rover into the big bag?”

“That’s affirm,” I told him.

“[Jack,] You want these [cameras]? You don’t have [a camera]. Yeah. This is the one you need anyway. That’s [the] color [camera].”

“Why don’t you see if you can grab a couple (of pictures of me]? Yeah, right here…” Photographs AS17-134-20473-77 are my images of Cernan we referred to as “tourist photos.” Fig. 12.258, below, is a very good photograph of Cernan.

Fig. 12.258. My tourist photograph of Cernan, standing next to the Rover. The bright, oval streak pattern resembling twisted rope on the HGA umbrella dish was caused by sunlight reflected off the mirror tiles on the top of the TV camera at left.[9] (NASA Photo AS17-134-20476).

“Boy, are you dirty,” I commented as I took the pictures.

“I know it.”

“Let’s see. I don’t know whether I can get you, [the Rover, and the Earth],” I speculated.

“Yeah, you can.”

“Ed, you’ve got your [TV] camera in the way,” I tell Fendell.

“Oh, just take them straight on,” urges Cernan. “That’s all right.”

Pointing the camera toward Cernan and the Rover, I said, That’s sort of [touristy]. …Okay. …Such [a] pose,” I added with a laugh. …Let me get a little different…focus. …That looks good. …[I’ll] try one more over here. Have your pick. …One more.”

“How’s like this?” laughs Cernan as he poses. “You got that camera. That’s the color camera?”


“You take it [with you to the ALSEP].”

“I’ve [also] got to go get a neutron flux probe [next], I guess.”

“Oh, yeah. That’s going to be easy to pull out,” Cernan said. “Okay. Let’s see if I’ve got everything in here.”

“You ready for me to go to the ALSEP?” I asked Parker.

“Roger. We’re ready for both of you guys, now.” Parker may be reminding us that now would be a good time for the close-out ceremony we had planned.

“Bob?” I called, apparently having temporarily lost the uplink from Mission Control.

“Roger. Go ahead.”

“Hello, Houston.”

“Hello, Seventeen. Stand by. I think we’re having a site handover or something.

“Houston, do you read? …Gene, do you read me?”

“Yeah, I read you.”

“Where’s Houston?

“Well, I don’t know [where they went].”

“Okay, Seventeen. We had a site changeover there, and we’ve got you again…”

“Are you ready for me to go to the ALSEP?”

“Rog. We’re ready for both of you guys, now,” hinted Parker, again.

Still focused on the job at hand, I say, “What do you mean? I’m headed for the ALSEP…”

Trying a different tack, Parker asks, “Gene, are you ready for Jack to go to the ALSEP, now?

“Oh, let me see,” Cernan said as he consults the Checklist, also clueless as to what Parker has on his mind. “Yeah, he’s gone. He’s good. I’m ready to get on, and go to the VIP site.” …Then Cernan remembers. “Wait a minute, Jack. Wait a minute. Here. Wait a minute. Where are you?”

“Right over here,” I responded, as if Cernan could tell where I stood.

“Come on back here a minute.”

“Yeah. We’re trying to be subtle there, guys,” Parker jibed.

“Come on back here a minute. Come on back here a minute.”

“I didn’t realize you were going out there [to the flag] quite so soon.”

“Well, I just looked to see where it (the ceremony) is [in the Checklist].” Actually, we did not put it in the Cuff Checklist. “What did you do with that [rock]…” Cernan was asking about the large rock he collected at Station 9, but I had already packed that one away. I then just reached down and picked up the first rock I could find (70017). It turned out to be a 3.0 kg piece of coarse-grained basalt, making some of Cernan’s following comments more symbolic than factual. I remember even thinking this at the time.

Fig. 12.259. The ‘Goodwill Rock’ 70017, which I randomly picked up near where I was standing for use in our little ceremony. A 3D convergent stereo anaglyph of it is available here. (NASA photo S73-21894. Anaglyph includes -21984B).

“How about one of… How about this one?”

“You got it? [I mean] that one in my footpan?”

With a laugh, I reminded him, “I put it in the Big Bag.”

“Okay. Here we go, Jack. …Here’s one here. …Here. All right?”

“Yeah. Let me get it (the rock), so you won’t get it too dirty. …Help you [reach it]? Very good…”

You hold it,” Cernan said.


“Got it?”

“Yeah. …How about over here?” I suggested.

“How about right over here against that background,” Cernan agreed, as he pointed the TV camera towards where I was standing with the flag of the United States in the background.


“Houston,” Cernan began, “before we close out our EVA, we understand that there are young people in Houston today who have been effectively touring our country, young people from countries all over the world, respectively, touring our country. They had the opportunity to watch the launch of Apollo 17; hopefully had an opportunity to meet some of our young people in our country. And we’d like to say first of all, welcome, and we hope you enjoyed your stay. Second of all, I think probably one of the most significant things we can think about when we think about Apollo is that it has opened for us – ‘for us’ being the world – a challenge of the future. The door is now cracked, but the promise of the future lies in the young people, not just in America, but the young people all over the world learning to live and learning to work together. In order to remind all the people of the world in so many countries throughout the world that this is what we all are striving for in the future, Jack has picked up a very significant rock, typical of what we have here in the valley of Taurus-Littrow.”

After I handed him the tabular piece of basalt, Cernan continued. “It’s a rock composed of many fragments, of many sizes, and many shapes, probably from all parts of the Moon, perhaps billions of years old. But fragments of all sizes and shapes – and even colors – that have grown together to become a cohesive rock, outlasting the nature of space, sort of living together in a very coherent, very peaceful manner. When we return this rock or some of the others like it to Houston, we’d like to share a piece of this rock with so many of the countries throughout the world. We hope that this will be a symbol of what our feelings are, what the feelings of the Apollo Program are, and a symbol of mankind: that we can live in peace and harmony in the future.”

[I will say one thing for Cernan, he could put together a speech that would play well to a large audience, while leaving out the real geopolitical purpose of Apollo in the context of the overlying Cold War between freedom and totalitarian communism. This ability to say what people wanted to hear continued to be demonstrated throughout our post-flight tours as well as throughout his life after Apollo. ]

Taking the rock from Cernan, I added, “A portion of a rock will be sent to a representative agency or museum in each of the countries represented by the young people in Houston today, and we hope that they – that rock and the students themselves – will carry with them our good wishes, not only for the new year coming up but also for themselves, their countries, and all mankind in the future.”

“Put that in the Big Bag, Geno.”

“In the Big Bag… We salute you, promise of the future.”

“Jack and Gene, …we thank you for your sentiments and your interest,” Parker added.

[Some 500 pieces of 70017, the “Goodwill Rock”, were sent to international destinations, becoming the “most widely distributed of any lunar samples”, according to the then Curator of the Lunar Sample Receiving Laboratory, James Gooding.]

Cernan then pointed the TV camera toward the ladder on the front landing strut of Challenger. “And now – let me bring this (TV) camera around – to commemorate not just Apollo 17’s visit to the Valley of Taurus-Littrow but as an everlasting commemoration of what the real meaning of Apollo is to the world, we’d like to uncover a plaque that has been on the leg of our spacecraft that we have climbed down many times over the last 3 days.”

At this point, I took a number of color images of Cernan and the plaque (AS17-143-20480-88). 20482 shows the plaque very clearly and 20488 illustrates how dusty our gloves had become. His Cuff Checklist and watch, as well as the ETB, are visible in this latter photograph (Fig. 12.260, below). All of the plaque photos had excessive sun glare due to the much higher solar elevation on this third day of the mission. The photo below has most of this glare removed for an improved view.

Fig. 12.260. View of the Apollo 17 plaque on the landing gear of Challenger, just below the ladder we used to access the lunar surface, above the 3rd rung from the bottom. Note: my reflection is clearly visible in Cernan’s helmet; and the American flag is behind me to the left. The plaque reads: “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.’ It’s signed, ‘Eugene A. Cernan, Ronald E. Evans, Harrison H. Schmitt’, and most prominently, ‘Richard M. Nixon, President of the United States of America’.” (NASA Photo AS17-134-20488).

“And I’ll read what that plaque says to you. First of all, it has a picture of the world, [rather] two pictures – one of the North America and one of South America. The other covers the other half of the world including Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia, covers the North Pole and the South Pole. In between these two hemispheres, we have a pictorial view of the Moon, a pictorial view of where all the Apollo landings have been made; so that when this plaque is seen again by others who come, they will know where it all started. The words are, ‘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.’ It’s signed, ‘Eugene A. Cernan, Ronald E. Evans, Harrison H. Schmitt’, and most prominently, ‘Richard M. Nixon, President of the United States of America’. This is our commemoration that will be here until someone like us, until some of you who are out there, who are the promise of the future, come back to read it again and to further the exploration and the meaning of Apollo.”

“Roger, Gene. We in Houston copy that and echo your sentiments. Dr. [James] Fletcher (the NASA Administrator) is here beside me. He’d like to say a word to the two of you.”

We both started to move to get back to the work of closeout, but went back in front of the TV camera as Fletcher began to speak. “Gene and Jack, I’ve been in close touch with the White House, and the President has been following very closely your absolutely fascinating work up there. He’d like to wish you Godspeed as you return to Earth, and I’d like to personally second that. Congratulations. We’ll see you in a few days. Over.”

“Thank you, Dr. Fletcher. We appreciate your comments, and we certainly appreciate those of the President. And whether it be civilian or military, I think Jack and I would both like to give our salute to America.” Cernan, in fact, saluted the camera.

“And, Dr. Fletcher,” I said, “if I may, I’d like to remind everybody, I’m sure, of something they’re aware, but this valley of history has seen mankind complete its first evolutionary steps into the universe: leaving the planet Earth and going forward into the universe. I think no more significant contribution has Apollo made to history. It’s not often that you can foretell history, but I think we can in this case. And I think everybody ought to feel very proud of that fact. …Thank you very much.” This concluding statement was much more disjointed than I had hoped it would be. I intended that it would place the Apollo Program into the broad course of human history.

[I had proposed to NASA Headquarters that the last sentence on our plaque have different words than those on the plaques of previous missions, possibly more along the lines of my spoken remarks, above. I suggested something like, “This valley has seen mankind complete its first evolutionary steps into the universe.” This suggestion, obviously, was not approved; however, my additional recommendation was accepted, namely that we include an image of the Moon with the Apollo landing sites clearly indicated on it.]

“I’ll see you in a little bit,” Fletcher concluded.

“Okay, babe. Let’s go to the ALSEP. …Okay, Bob. I owe you a BIAS reading.” Cernan actually was not going to the ALSEP with me, but would drive the Rover to a place to the east beyond the SEP transmitter where Fendell could try to follow the Challenger’s ascent from Taurus-Littrow.

“Okay. Or you can get it later. There’s no hurry on that. And we’re off to the ALSEP…”

“I’m going to give it to you right now.” Meanwhile, I headed for the ALSEP site.

“Okay. Ready to copy. …I presume you’ve a UHT (Universal Handling Tool) out at the ALSEP, Jack.”

“That’s affirm.”

“337, 417, 101; 337, 417, 101,” read Cernan after shading the TGE dial.

[The Traverse Gravimeter Experiment gave excellent results, indicating that, over the portion of the valley explored, the subfloor basalt was ~1 km thick and had a density contrast relative to the massifs of +0.8 g/cm3.[10] A re-analysis of the TGE data, using the corrections to topography provided by LRO laser altimetry has recently refined the TGE’s actual measurements of gravity and their interpretations,[11] This recent work also has constrained the gravity to ±2.5 mGal, the basalt fill thickness to ±150 m, and the valley wall angle to 30°. Reported “model misfits” may be the result of the extremely uneven topography on Imbrium ejecta that underlies the subfloor basalt.

The TGE results are roughly consistent with the (Active) Lunar Seismic Profiling Experiment’s measurement of the ~1200 m thickness of dense subfloor basalt in the vicinity of our landing site.[12] The seismic velocities measured indicate that the basalt’s bottom seismic velocity zone at 1200 m/sec is about 925 m thick. It is underlain by very high velocity (>4000 m/sec) material and is overlain by material about 248 m thick with a seismic velocity of about 250 m/sec. The very high velocity underlying material would likely be dense melt-breccia similar to that sampled at Stations 6 and 7. This suggests that the more fragmental material of the younger Imbrium ejecta is discontinuous or too thin to register in the data. The knobs of Sculptured Hills-like material (Bear Mountain, Family Mountain, etc.) that project locally through the subfloor basalt fill suggest discontinuous distribution of Imbrium ejecta. The overlying lower velocity material probably consists of basalt that has been extensively fractured by impacts like those that formed Camelot, Horatio, and the Crater Cluster. The lack of any measurable velocity changes in the deeper basalt may indicate that it formed as a single cooling unit, erupted very rapidly, or that regolith development between eruptions was below the limits of detection.

In spite of its operational problems, we obtained Surface Electrical Properties data[13] during Rover traverses on EVA-1 between Challenger and Station 1, on EVA-2 between the Challenger and Station 2 and between Station 4 and the Challenger.

Recent modeling of these data indicates that near surface porosity decreases sharply in the top 20-30 m and that there is little change below 300 m, roughly consistent with the interpretation of the Seismic Profiling Experiment. In contrast to the Seismic Profiling Experiment and Traverse Gravimeter data, however, that indicated the base of the subfloor basalt along the above routes is about 1200 m and 1000 m, respectively, these interpretations of the SEP data do not detect a base to the subfloor basalt down to at least 2000 m.

On EVA-3, I reported that the SEP receiver had been turned ON prior to leaving Challenger for Station 6; however, no data was recorded and the Principle Investigator concluded that the SEP had been placed in STANDBY rather than ON. Cernan apparently put both SEP switches to OFF on our arrival at Station 6, but he did not report the position of the switches prior to that action. On the other hand, the temperature limit of 108° had been reached prior to our arrival at Station 6, so it is not clear why no EVA-3 data were recorded, as the reported temperature at the start of EVA-3 was 103°. Another part of the puzzle is that data was obtained between Station 4 and the Challenger with the temperature gage reading above 108°.

Either I inadvertently had put the switch in STANDBY at the start of EVA-3 or the SEP receiver or transmitter had stopped functioning entirely some time after the end of EVA-2. Clearly, the SEP design did not properly account for the temperatures the equipment would encounter, nor were its switches configured so that there would be no way to confuse ON, OFF and STANDBY, if, indeed, such confusion took place.]

“Are you through with this [gravimeter]?” asked Cernan.

“Roger,” Parker responds with a laugh, suspecting that he wants to give the TGE a heave in one-sixth gravity. By saying “Roger” instead of “Affirmative”, he isn’t clear.


“Roger. We’re through with it.”

Knowing what Cernan has in mind, I tell him to “Be kind. Be kind.”

“Well, I love it, and I’m sure it did a good job…”

“Well, we’re not through with you, Gene, so don’t throw yourself too far!”

“No, sir. I just don’t want to hit old Challenger there,” Cernan reminds himself and gives the TGE a heave with a spinning motion. After a couple of bounces, the TGE comes to rest off to the southwest (AS17-145-22197, Fig. 12.261, below).

Fig. 12.261. Two frames from Cernan’s window inside Challenger towards the South Massif after we had closed the door. The distinctive blue case of the TGE and the splatter craterlets it made on impact are obvious at left above the Rover tracks. Cernan’s PLSS is at lower right. The TGE and craterlets are easier to see in the enlarged version available here. (Combination of NASA photos AS17-145-22196, -197).

“That was unkind,” I commented, jokingly referring to this treatment of a scientific instrument that had occupied his time at every station in the valley.

“You did the javelin!” Defending his action, he was referring to the rammer for emplacing the heat flow probes.

That was unkind!” I repeated, jokingly.

“I didn’t throw it as far as I could have. I just…”

“Roger, Gene. And we timed the parabola for that,” Parker kidded, “and we have one excellent measurement of “g” on the Moon now.”

“Yeah, I didn’t get you a pendulum,” I added, “but I don’t know where I would, Bob. Okay,” (As I recall, Parker had talked about setting up a pendulum of a known mass that could be timed precisely on TV in order to determine local gravity.)

Cernan continued as he stood at the Rover. “I’m going to have to take you (Rover) out to the VIP site! …If you concur?”

“We’re ready for that (VIP site), and we’ll…”

“Well, let me make sure I got everything. Okay. …Remember, we…” Cernan turns off the LCRU. “Okay. Bob, I guess you’re reading me through the LM, huh?” At the end of EVA-2, we lost comm. when the LCRU was taken off line.

“Roger. Read you through the LM. You guys both read me through the LM?”

“That’s affirm.”

“Okay. The first thing I want to do,” Cernan began, then said, “Tell John (Young) I’m going to do it exactly like he wants…” Young probably recommended parking the Rover at an angle to the line between the Challenger and the VIP site, but why this would help the TV field of view is not obvious. “Okay. …The [LMP] camera is under the seat, I hope. Let me look. [Pause] Yeah, camera’s there. …Jack, did you do something with the dustbrush?”

“No,” I replied as I approached the ALSEP site.

“It was under the seat, right?”

“It was, yeah.”

“Yeah. I want to make sure it is because I’ll need it out there.”

“No, wait a minute,” I cautioned. “I don’t know that it’s there now.”

“Well, I want to make sure that I can get…that I’ve got something to dust [the Rover systems] with.” Cernan’s concern related to overheating during the many hours before we left the Moon.

“And, Jack, as you go out to the ALSEP, let me cue in on your next 3 hours worth of work out there, repairing the ALSEP. All right? Over.” Parker’s dry humor at work, again.”

“Oh, okay. Go ahead. I’m here [at the ALSEP].”

“Number one, we want to retrieve the UHT. And I quote, ‘tap sharply’ – that’s “sharply” – on the [LSG] gimbal – which is the center section there, the little square metal piece in the middle – tap sharply on the gimbal with the UHT, and then reverify the level on the LSG. We’ll check response here in Mission Control after you’ve done that.”

“You mean tap on the thing (the bar) that swings!?!” I wasn’t sure I heard right.

“That’s what they say.”

“You always wanted to do that, didn’t you?” Cernan joked from afar.

“Yeah, that’s right.” Parker confirmed, again.

“Well, let me see if I can have a clean UHT to do that.” I wanted to keep dust out of the working parts of the LSG.

“Okay, Bob. Everything [in the Nav system] is zeroed,” Cernan reported.

“Okay. And I’ll be talking to Jack here, Gene, for a while. You can interrupt with your comments talking over me, and I’ll try and copy them.”

“One comment. I got a [warning] flag on the other battery [at] 139 degrees.” This is in contrast to 132 degrees when we arrived back at the Challenger.

“How much is ‘sharply’?” I asked Parker.

“Sharply is sharply. It’s probably not heavily, but sharply. Fairly light, but sharply.”

‘On the edge?”

“No. You can see that little square metal piece in the middle there?”

“On the edge?” I repeated.”

“You see that little square metal piece on there? You can just sort of rap on that…”

“Oh, yeah. Okay. Here goes. …I did it.”

“Okay. And then it (his note from the Back Room) says…”

“You want me to do it again?” I asked, interrupting.

“Stand by…”

“That was sort of a moderate ‘hard tap’.”

“Go ahead, and hit it harder.’

“It is level,” verifying that I had not moved the experiment box.

“Hit it harder, please.’

“Okay. …[Is that] okay? I can hit it harder yet.”

“Okay. We’ve observed something there. Stand by…”

“Bob,” called Cernan, as he drove to the VIP site, “You might be getting TV the way the antenna’s oriented right now.”

“Okay. Jack, go ahead [with other items]. We’ll do some more stuff here. In the meanwhile, while they’re thinking about what’s wrong with it…did you just tap it again?”

“No, I didn’t touch it. I’m over at the Central Station now.”

“Okay. They’re looking at it. All right. Now, we want to take some photographs at the Central Station and a few selected photographs of the ALSEP. Number one, we want a “7-foot cross-Sun” to the south of the ALSEP Central Station and then a 7-foot down-Sun of the Central Station. Over.”

“A 7-foot cross-Sun to the south,” I repeated to be sure.

“That’s what it [my note] says.”

“And then a down-Sun.”

“Roger. A 7-foot down-Sun.”

“You might tell me what they’re trying to get with it,” I suggested. “I might be able to help them.”

“I presume that what this means is looking to the south. It was cross-Sun originally. I suspect that’s what happened here, the way it was written up. So it’s a 7-foot looking at all the switches to make sure you guys turned them the right way, I suppose. And then a 7-foot looking down-Sun, so that would be facing west, that side of it.”

“Okay. I got it. What else?”

Indeed, the cross-Sun image, AS17-134-20489, Fig. 12.262, below, shows the top half of the Central Station and 20490 shows the lower half as well as the various switches.

Fig. 12.262. My cross-sun top and lower half images combined, providing an excellent view of the Central Station. Geophone Rock is in the middle background. The red adjustment wheels on the antenna mast and the experiment attachment hardware on the top of the station are more clearly seen in the next figure. A larger version of this vertical pan is available here. (Combination of NASA photos AS17-134-20489, -20490).

Fig. 12.263. The corresponding down-sun view of the Central Station antenna mast and top. Note the accumulation of dust on the top surface. The gold mylar skirt is for thermal protection. The Lunar Surface Gravimeter (LSG) experiment is at the end of the flat electrical attachment ribbon at the right edge of the photo. (NASA photo AS17-134-20491).

“Okay. Now, there’s a problem with the Central Station in which they think the south end is buried more deeply in the dirt than they had intended. And the Central Station is, at the present time, getting very warm on the backside, on the south side there. They believe you probably buried it in the ground when you were trying to tilt it to the proper alignment. They’re requesting that, when you’re at the ALSEP, you remove any soil buildup or debris with a convenient tool. They don’t want you to touch it because it’s fairly warm. But if you have a UHT or something to move it. …Do you have a UHT with you or something with you that you can brush that soil aside with?”

“Yes, sir.” This was a strange question as I had just been hitting the LSG with the UHT. “It (the regolith) is piled up there. That’s a good call.”

“Yes. Okay. They’d like that [dirt] brushed away. …And you can give me a call…”

“Fortunately, I brought my handy-dandy Rover sampler out.”

“Okay. You can brush that (dirt) aside, and give me a call when you think that’s cleared up the way it ought to be. That’s probably one of those things we didn’t think about when we decided to tilt the Central Station.” On EVA-1 (Chapter 10), I had put a packing block under one corner to stabilize the Central Station in preparation for my leveling operation.

“Well, you couldn’t anticipate the soil, Bob. …It’s very soft.”

“Bob, we are at [the] VIP [site].”

“Okay. And Ed Fendell is hard on my back to remind you that it’s better to be too far away than too close.”

“All right!,” Cernan replied. “I thought I was, but I think I may move just a little bit. There’s a little rise here I can give you. (Pause) I think I’ll give it to you.”

[Fendell eventually will send the command for the TV camera to slew upwards to track our ascent from the valley, but he has to account for electronic delays as well as the one and two-thirds seconds for the signal to reach the Moon from Earth. This means he will lead our liftoff by three seconds.[14] Being farther away from the Challenger would give him increased margins of error. The VIP site ended up about 160 m from Challenger. The MOCR received the actual picture of liftoff after another four seconds due to the time required to receive and process color wheel images from the camera.]

“By the way, Bob,” I broke in, “the soil gets more cohesive with depth. I hadn’t really noticed that before. …It’s quite a bit more cohesive at [depth]. [It] feels about the same down to 3 centimeters out here; and then the cohesiveness goes up so (much that) it’s difficult to scrape with the Rover sampler.”

“Well, I think you can see almost everything from here,” reported Cernan as he finally parked the Rover facing Challenger.

“Okay, Geno. And, Jack, let me know when you get done scraping that soil away.”

“I will…”

“And now comes the hardest [high-gain antenna] alignment of them all! But I’ll get it. …Somewhere about there. [I’ll] see if I can’t tweak it up for you.” With the Rover pointed a little south of west, the Earth is to the southwest. The antenna has to be aligned with the bore sight by reaching over the battery covers, unlike other times when we parked pointing the Rover northeast with the bore sight easily accessible while standing in front of the Rover.

“Bob, the east-west level bubble [on the Central Station] is not quite level (centered). The north-south is [centered]. Do you want me to tweak that up?”

“Yeah, you might tweak that up. We are getting a good signal, but go ahead and tweak it up just a little bit. …And, Gene, what are you doing these days?”

“I’m getting the high-gain set up for you.”

“Okay. Now you know why we didn’t make you park it in that orientation all the time, don’t you?”

“Boy, I’ll tell you. It (antenna pointing) was a piece of cake up until now. …There, I got you. …Bob, you’re (the Earth) looking right down the center of my [antenna] eyepiece. …You should have TV. As he points the TV camera at the South Massif, Cernan says, “You can look at your vantage point, and if you don’t like it, let me know.”

“Yeah, we’re getting TV there, Geno.”

“You getting it (TV)?”

“We’ve got TV.”

“Well, let me take a look [around] and clean things up.”

“Okay. I guess you can dust and dust and dust some more for a while.”

“Let me get this dusting problem out of the way before I do anything else.”

“I’ll tell Captain Video.” …Fendell takes control of the camera and begins to pan the scene.

“Bob?” While Cernan and Parker worked with the Rover and TV, I used the Rover Sampler to move regolith from around the base of the Central Station. “How close can soil be to this back plate of the ALSEP?”

“Stand by. I’ll check.”

“It’s about 30 centimeters away, most of the places now.”

“That sounds good. We’d like you to return to the surface gravimeter, Jack. What you did had some effect, but not a lasting effect. And we’d like you to “rap even more sharply”, more strongly, on the gimbal another three times. And we’re again watching it, and we’ll let you know what to do. …And I might tell you that this has all been done recently – this afternoon – up at Bendix on the “qual(ification)” unit, and it survived it and so we aren’t in any real danger, apparently, of destroying it.” It seems clear, however, that Bendix did not mount and activate the qualification unit on an inclined plane to simulate a deployed LSG on the Moon. If they had, the beam mass problem in the design of the instrument would have been discovered.

“Okay. Three times, huh?”

“Rog. Or up to three times.”

“Bob, don’t let me forget to bring a dustbrush back [to Challenger] when I come. I’m going through my checklist…” At this point, Cernan and I were separated by about a third of a kilometer.

“I’ll mark that down and remind you. And, Jack, you’ll be glad to know that the temperature of the back plate there (on the Central Station) has already dropped twenty degrees – two-zero (20) degrees.

“Oh, beautiful! Bob, I don’t think that (Central Station) bubble is working. …How’s your signal now?”

“Stand by. I’ll check. But why don’t you go to the surface gravimeter?”

“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 brush] unless you think so.” I am surprised that taking the lens brush with him was not on the Cuff Checklist.

“Stand by,” replied Parker.

“ ‘Knock three times [on the ceiling if you want me],’ ” I sang as I moved back to the LSG. Dawn had made this song popular in 1971 (For a ~3 min rendition of Tony Orlando & Dawn’s no. 1 song, click here.)

“Are you satisfied [with the lens]?” urged Cernan, standing in front of the TV camera.

“Get out of the way please, Jack (Gene); and we’ll take a look against some bright soil.”

“What?” I responded.

“No, that’s me he’s talking to,” Cernan assured me.

“It (the picture) looks pretty good, Geno. Go ahead.”

“I don’t have one of the lens brushes.”

“Yeah, go ahead. It looks pretty good to us,” Parker confirmed.


“Okay, Bob,” I called, “here come the raps. Knock three times. …Okay?”

“Okay, Jack. It’s (the LSG) really fighting us pretty hard. We’d like you to put the UHT in the socket, and rock it very firmly. Don’t pick it up, but rock it very firmly from side to side in all four directions. Move the UHT about 6 inches in each direction while you’re doing it.”

“Okay. …Okay, I rocked it. It (the gimbal)’s swinging. …and the level bubble is…centered…”

“We understand it’s in good configuration again as far as alignment and leveling is concerned, Jack. Let’s go on and take some more ALSEP photos, and let them think about it for a minute.”

“Okay. What [photos] do you want?” I asked.

“Okay. Next, what we want is some heat flow [photos]. …Okay. We just got late word. They’d like to do it one more time, and then call it quits…”

“The rocking bit, huh?”

“Roger. The rocking bit one more time…”

“Bob, I may have moved the high-gain,” interjected Cernan. Before leaving the VIP site, Cernan removed both the replacement fender and the left rear fender extension. “Do you see any change in signal? …If you’re happy, I won’t touch it.”

“Okay, Bob. It’s (the LSG) rocked,” I said. “The shade is aligned to the Sun now; and it’s level.”

“We copy that, and let’s go get some ALSEP photos, Jack. (AS17-134-20489-505) I think you got some heat flow photos the other night, besides the two pans. If you did, these may be redundant. They want the cross-Sun and down-Sun of the east hole and cross-Sun and down-Sun of the west hole. And I’m not sure but what you got those earlier. You said you got some extra heat flow, but tell me if you did. All four of these are 7-foot…”

“I’ll get the heat flow pictures. …One [before] was 11-foot, I think – and then the stereo pair.”

“Yeah. I think all they’re asking for is the two 7-foot stereo pairs…”

“Okay. That’s one of them,” I reported as I took the photographs (AS17-134-20493-94 for the west hole and 20495-96 for the east hole, below).

Fig. 12.264. My cross-sun photo of the west hole heat probe. The Radio-isotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG is the black box at left with Geophone Rock in the background at right of the Central Station. A 3D anaglyph gives more depth to the foot traffic around the heat flow probe in the foregound. An enlargement of that area of the image is available here. (NASA photo AS-134-20493. AS-17-134-20494 forms the stereo pair for the anaglyph).

Fig. 12.265. My cross-sun photo of the east hole heat probe. The Central Station and the RTG are at top left. The other small pieces and crumpled white paper near the RTG are unpacking debris from setting up the ALSEP package contents during EVA-1. A 3D anaglyph also gives more depth to the foot traffic around the heat probe. The enlargement of that area is available here. (NASA phot AS17-134-20496. AS17-134-20495 forms the stereo pair for the anaglyph).

“Okay. What they’re asking for, Jack, is a 7-foot down-Sun and a 7-foot cross-Sun, which isn’t quite what we’ve been taking in the past.”

“I’m getting the standard ones, Bob.” The “standard” documentation included a down-Sun photograph and then a cross-Sun stereo-pair. This set were at a 7-foot focus, however. “Okay. You got the standard documentation …11-footers and 7-foot stereos.”

“Okay. Go ahead. They can’t complain about that, certainly.”

[The photographs of the heat flow holes (AS17-134-20492-97; Fig. 12.264↑, Fig. 12.265↑) show how disturbed the surface of the regolith is around each probe. The resulting change in the surface thermal properties (increase in thermal conductivity due to compaction of the less dense, near surface regolith) has recently been determined to be the cause of a continuous slight increase after several years in the temperatures measured along the length of the probes.[15]]

“Okay. Now what?” I queried.

“We’d like a 3-foot shot of the lunar mass spectrometer (Lunar Atmospheric Composition Experiment, or LACE), including the orifice where the break-shield was. The “break-shield” Parker referred to was over the orifice to keep the LACE free of dust and artificial gases until after the last seismic charge had been detonated. Then it would be moved from over the orifice on command from Mission Control.

“…And, Geno, we are observing some degradation and would like to have the high-gain…”

[Through the years, telemetry from LACE has been interpreted by the Principle Investigator, Brian O’Brian, to indicate that dust is being levitated at sunrise due to changes in electrostatic charges.[16] Interpretations of a horizon glow in some near-sunset, TV images taken by Surveyor spacecraft first suggested that such levitation takes place, and Cernan’s sketch (Chapter 14) from orbit of an apparent horizon glow at spacecraft sunrise over the farside sunset terminator has been used to support the levitation hypothesis. I have noted, on many occasions, however, that the clean surfaces of rocks indicate that, if this dust levitation is happening, there is no net lateral movement of the hypothesized levitated dust, and that the long viewing path-length at sunrise through the gases of the transient lunar atmosphere could account for the observed glow. The 2013 to 2014 LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer) mission did not detect any dust other than that occasionally produced by impacts on the lunar surface.[17]]

“Cross-Sun?” I asked in response to Parker’s instruction.

“Yes, Jack; 3-foot cross-Sun. …And, Gene; this is Houston. We’d like to get the high-gain re-oriented a little bit. We’re observing some degradation in the picture.

“I’ll tweak it…,” Cernan broke in in reaction to Parker’s statement about high-gain communications degradation.

“Okay. Got it (LACE photo AS17-134-20498-99, below). Now what? …LMS is complete.” No response from Parker, as someone in the MOCR had distracted him for a moment.

Fig. 12.266. The down-sun photo of the LACE box in the foreground. The RTG is slightly left of the Central Station. At far right is the LSG with its sunshade on top. And and a trash pile is left of the Central Station. (NASA photo AS17-134-20499).

“Now we want to go over [to] the neutron flux [probe], Jack.”

“Okay. …How’s the gravimeter doing?” I asked as I move over to the drilling site where we had inserted the neutron probe into the deep drill core hole.

“We’re looking at it, Jack. I’m not sure…”

As I crossed the ALSEP deployment area, I took a general photograph (AS17-134-20500) that shows the LEAM, Central Station, trash pile, and the RTG (Fig. 12.266). Then I took two more images of the LSG (Figs. 12.267, 12.268) – one up-Sun and one showing the leveling and sun alignment (AS17-134-20501 and 20502, respectively).

Fig. 12.267. Down-sun view of the central area of the ALSEP, showing clockwise from the Central Station: the RTG (Radio-isotopic Thermoelectric Generator) power station, the LEAM (Lunar Ejecta and Meteorites Experiment), packing material pile, and LSG (Lunar Surface Gravimeter) left of the Central Station. (NASA Photo AS17-134-20500).

Fig. 12.268. Up-sun close-up view of the LSG (Lunar Surface Gravimeter; the trapezoidal shape on top is a sun shade) with Central Station and RTG in middle field and the Challenger in the far field at left. (NASA Photo AS17-134-20501).

Fig. 12.269a. I took this cross-sun photo to document the orientation and leveling of the LSG. (NASA photo AS17-134-20502).

Fig. 12.269b. A closer look at the top of the LSG. The bubble level is in the cylinder at far right. (Excerpt from Fig. 12.269a).

“Hey, Bob,” Cernan called. “[It’s] the [LCRU] panel you want covered. …Yeah, that’s the panel. …Okay. You want the panel with the ON/OFF switch and the signal strength switch and so forth covered, don’t you?” This step both fully exposed the LCRU mirror to deep space for cooling and covered a side panel that would be exposed to the Sun.

“Roger. And be sure to get the thing (LCRU switch) to EXTERNAL before you cover it there, Gene.

“Okay. That was going to be a question of mine.”

“That goes to EXTERNAL.”

“Okay. It’s EXTERNAL.” For some reason, Cernan was not working from his Cuff Checklist as all the above items are called out. Tiredness might explain this reliance on Mission Control. I certainly was tired; however, my activities at the ALSEP site were unplanned requests from the Science Support Room.

“What do you want me to do at the neutron flux?” I enquired, having arrived at the drill site.

“We want a photograph facing south from 7-foot – so a 7-foot cross-Sun, essentially, of the neutron flux in the soil.”

“Okay. …Would you like to have the RTG in that picture?” Photographing the RTG and the neutron flux location in the same picture would allow estimates of the degree of RTG neutron contamination of the probe.

“Oh, I suppose if you’re generous, you might take a partial pan around to the RTG…”

“Well, it’s just about that direction [anyway].” AS17-134-20503-05, below, show the treadle and jack arrangement over the core hole, thermal cover over the probe, the RTG and Central station, and the large rock that shields the probe from RTG neutrons. “…Okay. Now what?”

Fig. 12.270. My documentation photo of the neutron probe area. The camera is set for a 7-foot focus which shows the treadle-jack over the core hole and the gold mylar thermal insulation. The boulder in the near field is shielding the neutron probe from the RTG seen to the left of the Central Station, and right of Geophone Rock. The LSG with its shade is also seen at far right. (NASA photo AS17.134-20503).

“Now let’s remove…remove the neutron probe experiment from the ground, and turn it OFF.” Why Parker emphasized “remove” is not clear. That made up the planned reason I went back to the ALSEP site in the first place. Did someone think I might turn it OFF and then put it back in the hole?


“No more on the gravimeter, huh?” In spite of my frustration with the LSG and growing fatigue, I just did not want to leave without doing everything possible to fix the problem. This use of the Moon and the Earth as a huge gravity wave detector in space had intrigued me since I first heard of it. In addition, it now appeared that I had wasted a lot of good exploration time in deployment and trouble shooting. To this day, I wish I had tilted the LSG slightly to compensate for the mass error in the balance beam, but apparently the LSG Team did not think that this should be tried. (Fig. 12.269b↑, bubble level)

“No, the gravimeter is looking very bad, still.”

“That’s too bad. It really is.”

“And, Jack, you might note as you withdraw [the neutron probe] just how difficult it is to withdraw it [and] whether or not it’s been seized by the soil collapsing around it or not. That’s soil mechanic’s goody.”

“There it is. …[Collapses] not at all, not at all.”

“It won’t be [collapsed], I’ll tell you!” offered Cernan who had already commented on the integrity of the hole when we place the probe in it.

“No problem [removing the probe],” I reported.

“The high-gain is tweaked,” noted Cernan from the VIP site.

“Okay. We’ll consider ourselves tweaked,” joked Parker.

“And I’m giving the LCRU another zap here (with the dustbrush). Boy, I tell you, I ain’t going to do much more dusting after I leave here. Ever! …Not [just] today, but evermore.”

“Okay. Upper [neutron flux] probe is OFF. …MARK it.” Turning the probe “OFF” consisted of rotating the inner and outer tubes 180 degrees so that the outer plastic and mica alpha particle detectors could not record neutron capture by the inner boron and Uranium-235 targets.

“Okay, Bob,” continued Cernan, referring to his Cuff Checklist this time. “I’m going to put bus B and D – OPEN, and Aux Circuit Breaker Bypass – ON. …And let me see,” checking that he is getting the right buses, BRAVO. Okay. And DELTA. Okay. BRAVO and DELTA.”

“Upper probe is OFF. …MARK it.”

“Is that upper or lower, Jack?”

“Up…oh, lower. I’m sorry, Bob.”

“Aux Power Circuit Breaker is ON. …Bypass [is] ON.”

“And the lower probe is capped.”

“Okay, …and, Gene,” Parker said, “you need to close that [Rover] Caution and Warning flag. It’s a heat sink when it’s open, I guess.”

“Okay; it’s CLOSED. …You want me to put a bag in front of that thing? …Want me to put a bag in front of it in case it pops open again? I guess it won’t.”

“No, I don’t think so. I can’t imagine why it’s really a problem anyway, because we got the Bypass ON, there, and that heat’s not going anywhere.”

“Okay; and all the switches OFF, except [for] my 15 volts.”

“Bob, you want me away from the ALSEP now?” I asked.

“Stand by, Jack. I’ll get one more word before we come back to the LM.”

“Okay.” While I waited, I took the last photographs of the Challenger from the ALSEP site (AS17-134-20506-07, below). It includes a distant Cernan at the VIP site.

Fig. 12.271. One of my photos of Challenger from the ALSEP site. The inset above is an enlarged excerpt showing Cernan working at the LRV now parked at the VIP site. (NASA photo AS17-134-20506).

Okay,” Cernan said, beginning to talk to himself. “I’ll get a camera – over there. I’m going to look under the seats one more time. Nothing but a 500 [mm camera under there]. …Okay. Some used tape… Okay. That’s (the seat) closed.” Cernan later thinks that he set the 500 mm camera between the seats, lens up, as a substitute for the original plan to place his Hasselblad camera in that position for a long-term materials aging experiment, in case someone revisits Taurus-Littrow.

“Okay. Jack, we’re ready to leave the ALSEP.”

“Well, I hate to do that, Bob.” A lot of time, effort, emotion and money went into these experiments. I recognized the implications of leaving, even though I would have preferred that ALSEP could have been deployed with much, much less effort so that more time would have been available for EVA-1 exploration.

[Bill Anders and I did our best at the ALSEP Preliminary Design Review at the Bendix plant in Ann Arbor in 1967(?). We were able to rectify many of the mistakes made by another astronaut’s instruction to Bendix to “give us something to do,” but never came close to Bill’s ‘big red button’ deployment concept. ALSEP at least could be deployed on one EVA, but deployment always took longer than planned even after timeline planning always recognized that “deployment always took longer than planned.”]

“I’m sorry about that Gravimeter, though,” added Cernan.

“Well, you’re not the only one,” lamented Parker on behalf of the experimenters. “The word is down here there’s a whole room full of people who are sorry…” As no “thank you for your efforts” came over the radio, I suspect that the LSG experiment team still thought at this point that I had fowled up the deployment.

[The LSG really was not a gravimeter, strictly speaking. It was intended to be a very long period seismometer that could sense vibration of the whole Moon, called “free oscillations.” If the instrument detected such free oscillations simultaneously with detection of the free oscillations by seismometers already deployed on Earth, the hypothesis was that a gravity wave from some distant source had passed by. If the LSG had been able to do its job and simultaneous Moon and Earth free oscillations had been detected, it might have brought Nobel prizes to the LSG team. Today, detectors on Earth exist that have detected the passage of gravity waves.[18]

Unfortunately, the balance beam of the seismometer had a design error in its mass and could not fully uncage. This error carried through all the testing because one test had never been performed, namely, an inclined plane test to simulate deployment in one-sixth gravity. I had asked about this during my final pre-mission deployment of the flight hardware before launch. The engineers on the experiment told me that NASA had agreed to leave this test out of the plan because the manufacturer insisted that it would disclose proprietary information. Did someone already know that there was a problem?

Even though at that last pre-launch deployment we were only a month away from launch, and had a full training schedule, I should not have accepted that answer. I am not sure what could have been done if the error had been discovered at that late point, but at least some thought could have been given to the problem before we got to the Moon. Maybe a compensating mass could have been added to the beam. I guess, we will never know.

Eventually, NASA and the Principle Investigator identified the design error, formally stating, “review of sensor records revealed that an error in arithmetic resulted in the sensor masses being approximately 2 percent lighter than the proper nominal weight for one-sixth-earth-gravity operation of the flight unit. The sensor mechanism allows [only] a (plus or minus) 1.5 percent adjustment by ground command to correct mass inaccuracies.”[19]

The good news is that the LSG uncaged sufficiently to act as a relatively normal, short period seismometer. New researchers had recovered some of the original data tapes and are using these data as a fifth node in the Apollo seismic net that also includes seismometers at the Apollos 12, 14, 15 and 16 landing sites, increasing the value of that net for sensing the internal structure of the Moon and the location of moonquakes.[20]]

“…I’ve got the LMP’s camera,” Cernan reported. “Nothing in here [under the seats] but couple of old [sample] bags. We used about all the bags we had, Jack! Not many here. …Bob, I have the dustbrush tethered [to my yo-yo]. …Okay; let me get one parting shot (photo) one of the finest running little machines I’ve ever had the pleasure to drive.” He has stripped the two rear fender extensions off, one of which is the replacement extension. A last seismic charge (EP-3) remains on the pallet. Cernan will deploy this charge near the SEP transmitter on his way back to Challenger. Cernan’s black and white photographs of the Rover in its final location, with the Challenger in view are AS17-143-21931-34 (Fig. 12.272, below).

Fig. 12.272. Rover in its final location as selected so the TV could view our departure from Taurus-Littrow. Note the High Gain Antenna is pointing off to the southwest in order to transmit TV to the Earth. This port side view of the LRV shows why Cernan had difficulty in aiming the HGA pointing telescope towards the Earth. He has already removed his makeshift rear right fender as well as the intact one on the left side to bring back to Earth. Also, the final active seismic charge, EP-3, is still on the back of the Rover. I can be seen between the LM and the HGA returning from the ALSEP site. An inspection of the tires in the 3D anaglyph version of this view, available here, shows only a little wear to the wire mesh between and outside of the metal chevron strips. The mesh squares are clogged with soil in only a few places. (NASA Photo AS17-143-21933; anaglyph made with AS17-143-21932).

And, Geno, some people down here are concerned about whether you’ve opened the battery covers or not.”

“Yes, sir; they’re open. …Oh, what a nice little machine! Parked on a little down-slope, but at the heading you want, and I guess Ed’s satisfied with the TV response, huh?”

“Roger. We’re satisfied with the TV, Gene.” The Rover rests about 160 m from Challenger. “We’re ready for you to take the EP number 3…”

“Good old Mother Earth is right smack in the center [of the antenna bore site]. …Bob, while we’ve got a quiet moment here, as I go to deploy that EP charge, I’d just like to say that any part of Apollo 17 – or any part of Apollo – that has been a success thus far is probably, for the most part, due to the thousands of people in the aerospace industry who have given a great deal – besides dedication and besides effort and besides professionalism – to make it all a reality. And I would just like to thank them. Because what we’ve done here and what has been done in the past – as a matter of fact, what has been done for 200 years – you’ve got to contribute (attribute) to the spirit of the group of people who form the aerospace industry. And I [say] ‘God bless you’ and “thank you.’ “

“Roger, Gene,” Parker responds, “and we thank you guys.”

“Well, we’re just two little sets of twinkle toes here. There’s a lot that goes to getting this Rover running out here that we don’t have much to do with. …And I guess there might be someone else that has something to do with it too, and I’ve been reading His sign – maybe not from Him directly, but His in spirit – as we run up and down that ladder. And that’s “Godspeed, the crew of Apollo 17”. And if He’s listening, I’d like to thank Him, too.” Cernan refers to the message that is taped to the ladder or to the landing gear strut behind the ladder, or that he imagined is there.

As I skied back to Challenger from the ALSEP site, Cernan calls, “Pin 1 is pulled,” as he began to activate and deploy EP-3 near the end of the west arm of the SEP transmitter antenna.

“MARK that,” Parker responded.

“I’m at the end of the west SEP antenna. Do you agree with that?”

“Roger. Exactly right.”

“Okay. Pin 2 is pulled. Still safe. Pin 3 is pulled, and it’s still safe. …Wonder what I would do if it wasn’t [‘safe’],” he added with a laugh.

Fig. 12.273. EP-3 as deployed. Note SEP cable wire spool near the charge. I have returned to the LM and I am out of sight working at the MESA. A 3D anaglyph is included here. (NASA photo AS17-143-21937).

“And now, also, do you have the SEP transmitter turned off there, Gene?” I suspect that the flight controllers wanted the transmitter off to eliminate another source of electromagnetic interference with the Challenger’s systems during ascent from the valley.

“No, sir. Thank you…”

“Then we’re ready for you guys to get back to the LM and dust and get in.”

“It’s (the charge) setting right adjacent to the ring (the SEP antenna spool) on the west end, and I’m going to go back and turn the SEP off.”

“Okay. And when that’s done, Gene, we’re ready for you and your dustbrush to hasten back to the LM and dust each other and climb in.”

“You know what, Bob?” Cernan asked as he walked the 35 m back to the SEP.

“What, Gene?”

“Great as an experience as it has been, I’d say we’re probably both ready.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” I disagreed. “Hey, Bob, 55 Yankee (70075?) is an exotic-looking rock I found about 5 meters south of the neutron flux hole. It’s another gray – possibly gray – basalt. It’s just that there aren’t many of them around here, and so I picked it up. …Cheating [on the timeline] a little again.”

Fig. 12.274. The 3 cm long, 5.6 gm gray ilmenite basalt 70075 I picked up which was later found in the cabin. (NASA photo S73-21768).

[There is some question whether 70075 is the sample I picked up at this point as it was found in the Challenger’s cabin; however, it is the only unlocated sample in the vicinity of the lander. On the other hand, it is an important specimen, as it is one of the few examples of rapidly chilled, Type A ilmenite-basalt that was returned from Taurus-Littrow. It is extremely fine-grained (vitrophyric) with a few phenocrysts of olivine and armalcolite in a matrix of intergrown plagioclase, clinopyroxene and ilmenite. The TiO2 content is reported as 12% with the Rare Earth Element pattern, moderately depleted in europium and light elements, consistent with its Type A classification. The sample’s MgO content is low (8%) relative to other Type A basalts, but that may be due to the lack of olivine cumulate present in more slowly cooled samples. Otherwise, 70075 has not be extensively investigated, even though it probably represents an important example of undifferentiated magma composition similar to 70215 (above) and 74135 (Chapter 11).]

“Jack, you’ll always be picking [up] rocks,” jibed Cernan.

“Oh, I don’t know.”

“Okay, the (SEP) transmitter is OFF. …I don’t blame you, Jack. There’s so many interesting things around here. …Just don’t lose your brush, Gene. …Okay, Bob, according to my inventory [in the Cuff Checklist], I’m going to return to the LM and the [LMP’s] camera’s going to the ETB.”

“That’s affirm. We’ll have…”

“And we’re done with the TGE,” he added as he read the Checklist, forgetting that he had just thrown it away.

“Roger,” Parker said with a laugh. “We’ll need a bias reading if you want to use it again, Gene.”

“Come to think of it, I guess you are [done with it], aren’t you. …Where are you, Jack?”

“I’m at the MESA…trying to snap a snap.

“I need a locator [photo] here to the LM…” These locators were for EP-3 (AS17-143-21935-37; Fig. 12.273↑).

As I approached the vicinity of the Challenger, I took a number of site documentation photographs (Fig. 12.275, below), showing the spacecraft and the flag as viewed from the northwest with the East Massif as background (AS17-134-20508-13).

Fig. 12.275. View from the northwest of the Challenger and the deployed flag of the United States against the background of the East Massif. A 3D anaglyph view is available here. (NASA Photo AS17-134-20509); anaglyph with -20508).

“Seventeen, we need you guys in the LM in one-five minutes – fifteen minutes – because of oxygen constraints.” I actually ended up with 0.38 pounds of oxygen out of 1.81 pounds to start with, just above the 0.37 “redline” for ending the EVA, while Cernan had 0.44 pounds.

“Okay, Bob, my pictures are taken,” reported Cernan. I’m on the way [back]. …Oh, boy! Where else can you do this?” He refers to running with a long skipping motion that he preferred. Back at the MESA, he said, “If I had landed 30 meters back, Jack, we’d be pitched down 5 degrees…

“You’re right,” I agreed. Post-mission analysis of the TV camera coverage showed that Cernan ran at a speed of 4.6 km/hr over the 145 m run back to the Challenger. My skiing stride at other times resulted in speeds of 5.4 km/hr on two other occasions.

“Okay, what they’re saying is, I don’t need my hammer any more. …All we’ve got to dust and get in.”

“We want you to dust and get in. We got one-four minutes remaining before we need the hatch closed.” There was nothing magic about “one-four minutes”. It was just that this was the conservative constraint developed before the mission and all felt it wise to stay with the plan in case some unexpected problem arose.

“Okay, Bob. We’re doing our best,” replied Cernan. …Well, that RTV [coating] worked on the hammer, but look at it, Jack. It’s worn completely to a nub. It’s off [the handle].”

“I guess that’s all right…”

“Look at… Where are you?”

“I don’t know where I am [relative to things to do]. Oh, boy, how about that?”

“You ready to go on up?” asked Cernan.

“Well, I don’t know. Got to take my camera off. [By the way,] I got another batch of pictures…[of] the LM and the flag and…[in] stereo, even.”

“Well, watch this real quick.” Cernan was about the throw the hammer.

“Let me have your camera [for the ETB]. Go ahead…” Then I saw what he was about to do. “Oh, the poor little [hammer]. …Let me throw the hammer.”


“Let me throw the hammer? Please.”

“It’s all yours.”

“You got [to throw] the gravimeter.”

“You deserve it,” agreed Cernan. “A hammer thrower… You’re a geologist. You ought to be able to throw it.” In later years, Cernan ceased to be as generous with the distribution of flown material he purloined from the Apollo 17 mission.

“You ready?” I asked as I moved north to get away from the Challenger.

“Go ahead.” Cernan was ready with my B&W camera.

“You ready for this? Ready for this?” I repeated, trying to build suspense.”

“Yeah. Don’t hit the LM. Or the ALSEP…”

I threw the hammer out of my right hand, using a discus motion like I had practiced when I tried out for the field portion of the track and field team at Western High School. After a long parabolic flight, the hammer hit with a splash of lunar dust. Cernan’s black and white photographs AS17-143-21938-41 show the flight of the hammer and its landing in a spray of dust. (Ed Fendell’s capture of my hammer throw on the TV from the VIP site is available in this video clip.[21]).

Fig. 12.276. The first of Cernan’s 3 photos showing the flight and impact of the geology hammer. In this view, the hammer’s 39 cm length is seen almost broadside nearing the top of a very high parabolic arc. The image has been contrast stretched to bring out the surface detail. A larger size of the image for a better view is available here. (NASA photo AS17-143-21938).

Fig. 12.277. The second photo now showing that the hammer has rotated around an axis perpendicular to the handle. The appearance like a tomahawk is really the effect of blurring the head as it continues to rotate during the exposure. The same contrast stretch as applied previously shows the surface detail. A larger size of the image for a better view is available here. (NASA photo AS17-143-21939).

Fig. 12.278. These two photos are crops from the previous two images to compare the flight orientation of the hammer. Note that the inclination with the left end higher than the right end is about the same in each image. The reason is because I threw it like a discus with my right arm outstretched behind me slinging it with an upward throw, i.e., my outstretched arm having essentially the same angle with respect to my body as the hammer is oriented in flight when I released it. To see the images at a larger scale, click here.

Fig. 12.279. In this frame, the hammer has impacted the surface and raised a surprisingly high cloud of dust. Although this frame has also been contrast stretched like the first two of the series, the delicate features of the plume against the sky rather than against the surface cannot be seen. An unlabeled, but still contrast stretched photo is available here. (NASA Photo AS17-143-21940).

Fig. 12.280. However, an enlargement around just the plume area of the photo, and a careful, stronger application of brightness changes and contrast stretching reveals a much higher plume that, even in the faintest details, is detectable against and part way up the distant slope of West Family Mountain at left, and somewhat less so up the smaller slope of Family Mountain at right. One can thus imagine the size of a cloud raised by impact of a small meteorite with a much higher velocity! A larger scale version can be downloaded here.

Fig. 12.281. Cernan’s photo of me just after I threw the hammer and probably watching its impact. (NASA Photo AS17-143-21941).

“Look at that!” exclaimed Cernan as the hammer took a long, drawn out flight to the southwest. “Look at that! Look at that!”

“Beautiful,” I said.

“Looked like it was going a million miles, but it really didn’t.”

“Didn’t it?” Who else would know?” I mused. On the other hand, my friends at the Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Arizona eventually located the hammer’s resting place on the lunar surface, so I can’t claim otherwise. (see also the decades later estimation of the distance to the hammer of ~44 m by James Scotti[22]).

Fig. 12.282. I took this photograph through my window after we were inside the LM. It has been contrast stretched and darkened as before. The arrow at right points to the hammer. It is easier to see by enlarging the original scale photo by clicking on a point near the arrow in the above view. The latter, unmarked photo is available in the separate window here. (NASA photo AS17-145-22222).

Fig. 12.283. This enlargement of the area of the previous photo will also help find the hammer in the original scale photo; and this crop can also be seen in a separate window by clicking here.

Fig. 12.284. A 3D anaglyph of the view from my window showing Geophone Rock at left, the ALSEP site in the middle, and the hammer area to the lower right of the latter. The enlarged, separate window version shows the ridge line on this side of the depression I walked through when I was carrying the ALSEP “bar-bell” package to its deployment location during the early part of EVA-1. The LRV TV near the LM captured me slowly getting shorter and shorter, disappearing like the Cheshire Cat as I walked into the depression. The larger image is available here. (Derived from NASA photos AS17-145-22199, -22222).

“Okay, here, this is an ETB,” Cernan said, handing it to me.

“Let me make sure that that’s all cinched up.”

“Okay. And then start on up [the ladder]. We got to get going here.”

“Yeah,” I responded. “Unfortunately, their little plan didn’t count for the fact that it’s hard to pack the ETB with the film magazines in it.”

“And I’ll try and get the big bag here cinched up.”

“That is a major task,” I told him.

“Yes, that’s going to be [interesting]. …Oh, is it heavy! Is it heavy. Something in that core tube you put in there?”

“Yes, sir. Don’t tell anybody, though, because they’ll get mad at me.” Then I explained to Parker: “252 (70012) has about three-quarters of a core – hand pushed [into the surface) – [taken about] half a meter inside the plus-Y (north) footpad.” I had previously taken one of the unused core tubes and pushed it as far as possible into the regolith behind the landing pad strut while leaning on the strut for support. I had in mind at the time that a core might show how deeply the Descent Propulsion effluents penetrated into the regolith. The core may have gone in about 25 cm, but the cap came off before it arrived at the Lunar Receiving Laboratory and part of the core had fallen out.

[The Challenger’s and 70012 core’s location is at the northern edge of the main extent of the Crater Cluster (Sherlock-Emory-Powell, etc., to the right of “C” in Fig. 12.17↑ in §1) and its original material probably was dominated by ejecta from this area. Except for having only 10% coarse fragments, its basaltic character resembles that of the zone in the deep drill core that is interpreted as being Crater Cluster regolith ejecta (Chapter 13).

This core constituted the last sample obtained in Taurus-Littrow. Synthesis of Is/FeO maturity indexes for Apollo 17 regolith samples in the valley of Taurus-Littrow on the Moon indicate that high levels of ilmenite in the samples significantly reduce the level of this indicator of space exposure (see Chapter 13). Surface samples of most ilmenite-poor regolith, such as those from the light mantle avalanche, have about 80-90% higher maturity indexes than surface samples of ilmenite-rich regolith from relatively level surfaces of comparable exposure history. The general exceptions to this rule are the mid-range maturity indexes of regolith samples from the slopes of the massifs that are continuously remixed with the down-slope movement of relatively fresh material from above.]

“Oh, man, is that [Big bag] heavy. Holy smoley. Oh!” …Okay, Jack, how’s that ETB coming so you can get going?”

“Fine. …I’ve got to put it on the [transfer] strap, though.”

“I can get that. This [ETB] is all cinched up. I think it’ll hold. Why don’t you start on up? Then I’ll start dusting you.”

“Okay.” …I moved to the footpad for dusting.

“Okay. Very good.”

“Anything fall out [of the ETB]?” I asked to be sure we still had a set of scissors.

“Nope. …Let me dust you. Set that [SCB] down, and I’ll hand it all to you.”

“Okay, you’ll have to hand stuff…”

“Okay; and, 17, a reminder. We need you inside in 10 minutes.” This unnecessary reminder served only to antagonize me, tired as I was.

“Okay, Bob,” Cernan responded with more civility than I would have. “…I’ll get your front real quick…”

“I’ll do a lot of jumping up [on the ladder] here in a minute.”

“Your back is clean.”

“I’ll get the legs as best I can,” I told him, “[by knocking them together when on the ladder].”

“Okay. Why don’t you get (dust) me here before you do that?”

“Okay. And while I’m doing that, will you take this [SCB for a minute]?”

“[Dropped it].” With tired hands, Cernan missed his grip on the bag and it fell next to the footpad we both were standing on.

“I’ll get it.”

“Boy, you got dirty today,” I informed him. Cernan had ended up on his back a couple of times when he missed getting into his Rover seat. “I think we’re just going to have to live with it [in the cabin].”

“Get my top. I can kick a lot of that stuff off my legs. …How do I look in back?”

“Terrible,” I told him… “Okay, turn. Oh, man. …You’re going to have to [do a lot of knocking on the ladder]. Your legs are really filthy. Not much I can do about it.”

“Okay, I’ll get them [knocked] off. Why don’t you start back [up].”

“Just kick them against each other when you go up,” I advised.

“Okay. Start on up.”

“You might shake the bags.”


“And don’t forget your PLSS antennas,” Parker said, quickly.

“No, [we won’t].”

“Do what?” asked Cernan.

“PLSS antennas…although it doesn’t make much difference anymore.”

“That’s to get them out of the way,” he said; however, the main reason had been to make sure we did not break them off. “The Big Bag didn’t stay closed very long.”

“I don’t know how we’re going to get that in,” I wondered.

“Well, I can hand it to you [once you’re inside].”

“It never had a very good closure on it,” I noted, “but it can be closed.”

“That Velcro won’t hold.” Lunar dust and Velcro don’t mix. “I had it over the top. The latch was closed, but [the Velcro won’t hold it].”

“Oh, it won’t hold with all that weight in there,” I agreed. “Okay, I got your antenna.”

“Okay, let me get a high [look on your OPS]. Got to close this [pocket]. You don’t want that in your way.”

“I can’t close it (the Big Bag),” I said – dusty Velcro, again.


“You might try…”

“Get all your [PLSS] flaps?” Cernan asked, rhetorically. “Okay, hold your head down. …No, [antenna won’t stay down].”

“Won’t go, huh?”

“No. Will that bother you getting in?”

“I can probably make it.

“Okay, head on up.”

“Oops,” I said as I missed reaching the first rung. “Try that again. …Okay, why don’t you hand me the neutron flux, and I’ll put it on the platform.”

“Okay, neutron flux.”

“Why don’t you start in [the hatch],” Cernan suggested, “and I’ll get some of these bags (SCBs) out of the way.”

“Well, I just… You don’t want to hand them (SCBs) to me up here?”


“And, Jack, for your thoughts,” Parker interjected, “we’ve agreed that you can delete the tracking light [test]. We’d like to get you guys in as soon as possible. Seven minutes now. And we’ll delete the tracking light test.” This test of the tracking light would have confirmed that Evans would have the light for tracking in the remote case that he would have to perform tomorrow’s rendezvous by himself. This test would have not taken any time at all, but for some reason, the Flight Director put a lot of pressure on Parker to keep us moving which we were doing anyway. The Mission Rule redline on oxygen was a good rule to have to keep everyone focused, but we were a long way from running out. We had done this twice before and knew how to get it done this time even though we had more items to move into the Challenger. It actually took me only about a minute and a half to get from lying on the porch to being inside and standing in the cabin.

“Okay,” answered Cernan as he continued to hand me SCBs.

“Okay, that’s all I can handle up here,” I told him. “One more and I can put it up here [at the edge of the hatch].”

“Watch the cover on this one. …Got it?”

“Got it.”

“Stand it up, because the cover won’t hack it. …Okay. Soon as you get on in, I’ll come up to the porch…”

“Where’s that EVA pallet that’s always in my way?” I asked, knowing full well there were no more EVAs. It had been the first thing I shoved into the cabin and up onto the Ascent Engine cover.

“I think we aren’t going to have one of those (an EVA) tomorrow, Jack,” Parker said, “so we did away with that [item]. We hope we’re not going to have one of those tomorrow.” The only reason we would have an EVA would be if everything else had failed and we had to start the Ascent Engine with our jumper cables, using an OPS attached to the front of a spacesuit.

“Bob, we’re maximizing our efforts,” Cernan told him, a little exasperated, “so just bear with us. Jack’s going to be in about 30 seconds, and I’m on the ladder hauling some stuff up now.”

“Roger. Don’t panic,” Parker advised, backing off a bit.

“Well, we’re not [panicking]. I just don’t want you to.”

“I never panic there, guys.” What Parker meant by this statement escapes me. It certainly seemed like someone had expressed strong concern to him at some point about my oxygen supply. If they had thought I would have an oxygen problem, Mission Control should have cut short my visit to the ALSEP.

Standing in the cabin now with my back to the open hatch door, I asked Cernan, “Got some stuff for me?”

“Yes, sir. …This is not the time to rush,” added Cernan. “It’s the time to do it nice and slow and right.”

“Oh, we’re all right,” I assured him, certain that someone down there was being overly conservative.

“Okay. …You’re not going to like this [Big Bag], but I’m going to give you this one first because I’ve got it in my hand.”

“Either one,” I said, agreeably. “…Oh, hang in there,” I added as he pushed the Big Bag over the hatch rim. “I’ve got it! Oh, that’s a heavy bag.” Even though the Big Bag contained all the “football-sized rocks” we had collected, its weight was only 12 Moon-pounds. We may have been noticing the Bag’s 72 pounds of mass rather than its weight, as we maneuvered it around the hatch and into the cabin.

“That is heavy, babe. Let me tell you, that’s heavy.”

I put the Big Bag in the back of the cabin and said, “Okay; next.”

“Can you reach that one (SCB)? If not, I’ll shove it in further.”

“I got it. …Okay.”

“One more coming at you.”


“Tilting up right now.” Cernan had pulled down on the upper bottom edge of the SCB so that the top tilted up toward me.

“Go ahead.”

“Okay, next.”

“Okay, tilting up at you.”

“Got it.”


“Okay, next. …Okay, Bob, we’ve got [the] Big bag, three SRCs (SCBs), and a neutron flux.”

“Okay, and we gather an ETB coming up with two cameras in it.”

“ETB’s next. …Got an ETB? Yeah. …ETB has two cameras.,” I assured Parker.

“And as you guys say farewell to the Moon, we’re looking up [on television] to the Earth down here where you guys are returning pretty soon.” I don’t know what Parker expected us to say to this statement, but we ignored him, anyway.

“Okay, [Jack].” Cernan had placed the ETB slightly in the hatch, but too far away for me to reach.

“You’re going to have to push that.”

“Okay, let me get it.”

“That’s all right,” I said. “I’ll wait until you’re ready.”

“Okay? Can you make it?”

“Yeah, I’ve got it.”

“Okay, let me get that other thing…” With his continuing attempts at the dramatic, Cernan went down the ladder to stand on the lunar surface and spoke, initially in somewhat confused terms but then more like he had planned:

“Bob, this is Gene, and I’m on the surface; and, as I take man’s last step from the surface, back home for some time to come – but we believe not too long into the future – I’d like to just [say] what I believe history will record – that America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus- Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. ‘Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17.’ ”

“Roger, Geno,” Parker acknowledged. “Thank you very much.” As for me, I had said what I wanted to say much earlier.

“Bob, I am up on the ladder and I’m going to be going through the hatch…”

“Gene, I’ve got to get out of your way,” I said, reminding Cernan that I had to partially close the hatch and move into the right side of the cabin.



“Okay, let me [get positioned]. …Okay, babe, here I come.”

“Come on in,” I said, mimicking a quiz show host.

“Hatch look good to you?”

“Well, it’s dirty.


“Keep her (his PLSS) down. Buttons. Come towards me a little. There you go. Okay, you’ve got it.” My “Buttons” statement reminded him to get as low as possible. As at the end of EVA-1, I was referring back to a Bill Mauldin, Willie and Joe cartoon (see Fig. 10.42↑, Chapter 10).

“Okay, I’m inside the hatch.” Actually, he was standing in the cabin after I had guided his PLSS past the DISKEY.


“Let me look at that hatch once more.”


“That’s the last time we want to have to open that.”

“[You got] caught in the same way again [on the DISKEY].”

“Yep. Let me just [look at the hatch seal]. …I can see down there [once I turn around].”

“I can see [the seal],” I told him. I was facing toward his side of the cabin, standing behind the open hatch door.

“Does it look good to you?”

“It’s clear,” I confirmed. “There is a little bit of dust, but it’s all in the [trough. I] don’t think the seal’s affected.



“There you go,” I said, telling Cernan he could close the hatch and its vent valve anytime.

“If I can turn around.”

“Yes, I’ve got to get out of your way.” By turning around and pressing my front as hard as I could into the corner between my right hand panels and the Environmental Controls panel behind my position, I could give him just enough room to turn and reach down to the hatch.

“Yup, I’ll wait for you. …Yeah, now I can.”

“Okay. Let me get my [right] hand over here [towards the back]. Okay, I’m out of your way.”

“Okay. And…”

“Close the hatch,” I finished.

“Hatch is closed. Let’s see if I can lock it.”

“Then we’ve got to turn our [PLSS] H2O off,” I said, turning around again and looking at the Checklist clipped to the AOT mounting bracket above the central instrument panels. “…Let’s turn our water off first, before you lock it (the hatch).”

“Well, it’s locked now,” Cernan replied, having not waited to do so. “Can you get your own water? If not, I’ll get it.”

“I doubt it. Haven’t been able to before.”

“Okay, I’ll get it.” The PRIMARY and AUX FEEDWATER Valves were positioned at right forward lower corner of my PLSS, Cernan could just reach it if I turned again to face the rear of the cabin.

Have you got yours [OFF]?” I asked.

“Let me see. …Mine’s OFF. No, wait a minute. …Mine’s OFF.”

“No, I can’t get it,” I said, after reaching back as far as I could. The lack of arm motion in the cabin prevented reaching these controls that I manipulated routinely during surface activities.

“Okay. I’ll get it for you. Not now. Before you move any more, let me get over here out of the way.”

With impeccable bad timing, Parker broke in. “Okay. And pay attention here, Seventeen, when you come on, we’d like you to leave Press Reg A, which is the one that’s been OFF. …We’d like to leave that CLOSED. Just use Press Reg B.”

“Turn around,” Cernan told me so he could reach my Feedwater valve. Then he responded to Parker. “Okay, Bob.” I, obviously, just ignored him and would get to this configuration, later.

“Get it, Geno?”

“Turn [left] some more, I can almost reach it. Another [little bit]…”


“Okay. Your AUX [FEED]WATER is OFF,” Cernan informed me.

“Okay. …No, no,” I corrected him. “The PRIM(ARY) [FEED]WATER.” The PRIMARY needed to be OFF to keep any water from going to the sublimator.


“[Check again].”

“Standby. …Your PRIM WATER’S OFF.”

“Is your PRIM [H2O] OFF?” I asked.

“Yep. It’s OFF. Okay. …Okay,” Cernan looked at the Post-EVA Checklist. “PLSS PRIM WATER CLOSED. Forward Hatch – CLOSED and LOCKED. Okay, I’ve got to get the upper (dump) valve, Jack. Move in.”

“Okay.” I moved over to give him a shoulder to push off of as he reached for the Overhead Dump Valve. “How’s that?”

“Oh, that ought to do it. …It’s (OVERHEAD DUMP VALVE) AUTO, and I’ve got the lock on it. …Okay. Now, Bob, say again which REG A you want left [OFF].” There is only one REG A, but we knew what he meant.

“[They want] REG A – left CLOSED,” I told him before Parker could respond. “I got it,” I said as I maneuvered to face the ECS panel. “…Go ahead [with the Checklist].” REGULATOR A is the one that we earlier found had a very slow leak causing the cabin pressure to run high.


“CABIN REPRESS – AUTO,” I responded.

“Okay, and I’ve got plenty of (PLSS) oxygen so we’re in good shape for an AUTO REPRESS.” My PLSS oxygen was good as well, but he should have asked.

“CABIN REPRESS breaker CLOSED on [Panel] 16.”

“Okay, CABIN REPRESS [breaker] – CLOSED.”

“Come on, baby,” urged Cernan. “There it comes. Half a psi. Okay, it is increasing. …You can go to CABIN on the regulator.”

“REG B,” I noted for the record.

“Yeah, just the one regulator you’re using. …1.5[psi].”

“REG B is in CABIN.”

“Okay, she’s coming up. There’s 2.0 [psi]. Your next move will be to get your PLSS O2, OFF [at 2.5psi]. …2.5. …Okay, get your PLSS O2, OFF. …Mine’s OFF. [Can you] Get it? We’ll be soft-suited shortly. …Just get around [facing me]. I’ll get it for you.”

“I think that I’ve got it,” I said, reaching under my Remote Control Unit. “There I got it.”

“Okay. ‘Verify cabin pressure stable at 4.6 to 5.0.’ We’ll watch it here.”

“I’m watching. …Five [psi].”

“Okay. 5.0.”

“5.0,” I repeated. At this point, we are about an hour behind the normal plan, but that was the case at the start of EVA-3.

“Boy, it got hot in here [in the suit], didn’t it? Okay, [suit] PURGE VALVE to DEPRESS. Verify your circuit breakers.”

“Say again, that last one,” I told him. Cernan had begun to read the Checklist items too fast.

“You don’t need your [suit pressurized. Put your PURGE VALVE to] DEPRESS. [Suit is still pressurized,] but you don’t need it.”

“Oh, yeah. No, [we don’t].”

“Verify your circuit breakers,” Cernan read again. “White Dots OUT plus EVA decals.”

“No White Dots [in]…,” I repeated to myself.

“Okay, I’m squared away there. …Squared away?”

“Standby. …Looks good.”

“Stay at [Circuit Breaker Panel] 16, now: [is] ECS SUIT FAN, 2, CLOSED?”

“SUIT FAN, two [CBs] – CLOSED.”



“Caution Lights are ON, that’s good. Until the SEP(ARATOR) [spins up]. …Wait, ECS Caution [Lights]. …They’ll go out when it (the Separator) winds up. Doff gloves, stow on comm panel. Oh, oh! Sweet music to my ears.” Cernan can’t wait to get his gloves off.

“Going to have to put them on again, in a few minutes,” I reminded him. After we are on Challenger’s oxygen and suit pressure regulation systems, we will depressurized the cabin, open the front hatch again, and jettison the PLSSs and a few other items.

“I know. It’s still sweet music.”

“Come on, now.” I may have been implying that professional pilots are supposed to be tough.

“I have never seen so much dirt and dust in my whole life. Ever. …Ron’s not going to be able to see through either one of these helmet visors,” Cernan added with a laugh. “Yes, he will.” Although some scratching had occurred, we will get one visor and its LEVA good and clean for Evan’s EVA on the way home when he will collect the SIM-BAY film canisters. Cernan refers mostly to the dust on our suits, the bags we have stacked in the back of the cabin, and what we could see on the floor.

“But they sure do get scratched, if you’re not careful,” I warned. We were quiet for a minute as we used our tired and sore fingers to remove the gloves.

“I think it’s harder getting them (the gloves) off, these days, than it is getting them on.” Of course, our hands were much more tired that they were eight hours ago.

“Ah, I did it!,” I exclaimed in triumph. “Patience. Maximum effort…”

“There’s one…,” Cernan added.

“Okay, gloves are off,” I reported, having finally mastered unlocking the wrist-locks in spite of tired fingers.

“My gloves are off. We’re right there,” Cernan stated, pointing to the cue card Checklist.

“Okay, ‘Verify Safety ON the [overhead] DUMP VALVE’. I’ll do that,” I said. “…Okay, I verify that, there…,”

“We want to take a double look at something (front hatch DUMP VALVE safety) down there.”

“It’s LOCKED,” I told him.

“Uh-huh…happy [with DUMP VALVES]?”

“Yep. Okay, ‘DESCENT H2O VALVE – OPEN’.”

“Okay, ‘DESCENT H2O VALVE – OPEN’,” Cernan repeated, as I had to turn to get to the ECS panel.

“That’s OPEN.”

“ ‘Remove purge valves, stow in Purse’,” he continued…”

“Okay.” These valves, with their activation balls and line, were on the lower right red (exit) port on our suits.

“ ‘Disconnect OPS hose.’ Oh boy! That lock/lock is just tight on there, Jack.”

“It is. …Got it.”

“Your’s Off?”


“ ‘Connect LM hoses, red to red, and blue to blue.’ We’ve got to do that this time, because we’ve got [to pressurize] to dump the PLSSs,” Cernan explained to himself, “Okay?”

“Let me turn around here,” I told Cernan, as I was facing toward the back of the cabin.”

“Let me get out of your way.”

“I’ll get back in here.” I moved to the right rear corner between the ECS and Circuit Breaker panels.

“Okay, I’m out of the way now,” Cernan said as he backed into his communications panel.

“How would you like to get off the PLSS water and get some spacecraft water, too?” I was getting warm and I knew he was too.

“Oh, that’s the next thing. ‘SUIT ISOL[ATION VALVE] to SUIT FLOW – ON’; and then we’ll put PLSS pump and fan OFF. Then we’ll disconnect the PLSS water and connect spacecraft water.” Cernan summarized the next few steps in the Checklist. After EVA-2, we commented that the chest-mounted RCUs were hot, due to driving from Station 4 facing the Sun. The Sun was behind us driving from Station 9 to the LM so the RCUs were shaded and stayed cool.

“You might unhook that stuff (the RCU) up there so you can get to your hoses,” I suggested.

“I can’t reach it though.”

“Oh, okay. I can get it, I think.”

“I can get it,” countered Cernan. “Okay, I got them. …Okay, we want red to red and blue to blue. …We got to verify these [hose connections to the suit], too, because…”

“Yep.” Before we depressurize to jettison things, we need to be able to pressurize the suits off the Challenger’s ECS.

“Bob, you still with us?” Cernan asked Parker.

“You bet, I wouldn’t leave for the world.”


“Okay, I’m hooked up and locked,” I said, as I put the cabin hoses in their respective inlet and outlet on the spacesuit. “…You want to verify? And I’ll do it for you, if you want.”

“Okay, see if you can’t find this one (the outlet port). See it?”


“Here, verify the red one. Okay?”

“In and locked,” I confirmed.

“Got the red one, locked?” Cernan asked again.

“LOCKED,” I repeated.

“Okay. Let me take a look at yours. …[Blue is] LOCKED. …[Red is] LOCKED.”

“Ready for [SUIT ISOLATION valves to] SUIT FLOW?”

“Yes, sir; SUIT FLOW on both of them.”


“Oh man, it feels great!,” Cernan exclaimed as the cool, Challenger oxygen began to flow through the suits.

“Yes, sir.”

Back on the Checklist, Cernan read, “ ‘PLSS PUMP – OFF and PLSS FAN – OFF’.”

“PLSS FAN’s – OFF; [PLSS] PUMP’s – OFF.” Turning off these RCU switches cut the flow of oxygen from the PLSS.

“Okay. ‘Disconnect PLSS water from PGA’. ‘Connect the LM water’. Boy, I never thought air could feel so cool.”

“Yeah.” We could feel a significant contrast between the flowing oxygen and the body heat build-up, since we went off PLSS cooling with the pressurization of the cabin.

“Okay, the PLSS water is disconnected,” stated Cernan. “I think that’s mine (LM water hose). Yeah, that’s mine. [Now, connect to] spacecraft water. Okay. Mine’s connected…”

After disconnecting from PLSS water and re-connecting to Challenger water, I wasn’t sure I had felt a click at the water port, so I asked Cernan to check. “How about pushing on that [water hose connector]?”


“Get it?”

“Yeah, but I want to see it first.”

“Watch your helmet, Jack,” I warned myself, as I turned around. “You’re going to scratch it.”

“Got it. …Yes, got it.”

“You don’t have your visor down [on the LEVA],” I noted. “And neither do I.”

“Okay, connect…,” Cernan began and then corrected himself. “Okay, PLSS MODE – O. Bob, we’re both going off the air. We’ll get on LM comm.”

“Okay. We’ll be waiting for you,” Parker replied. “We’re here.”

“Okay, go ‘O’ [on the comm], Jack.”

“How about some [water] cooling?” I have gradually rebuilt my adrenalin after the letdown of ending our last EVA and have become more focused on procedures.

“Okay, zap me with it (water), and go ‘O’, and then put your AUDIO [circuit] breaker – OPEN; and connect the LM comm. Then an audio breaker CLOSED. Okay?…”

Facing the ECS panel, I started LM cooling water flowing to our LCGs and then turned left a quarter turn to reach the circuit breaker and communications panels. Opening the AUDIO breaker prevented any possible electrical discharge when we connected the Challenger’s communication’s lead to the suits. As soon as we were both connected, I closed that breaker.

“You read me, Jack? …You read me? …Read me?”

“You’re loud and clear.” I finally got my comm lead to seat in the suit port.

Cernan continued to read off the items on the Checklist so that I could properly configure the Challenger for communications. “Okay. Next thing, [SQUELCH] VHF B. …Wait a minute,” Cernan hesitated. “You get the AUDIO breaker, OPEN? …[then] CLOSED? …Okay, …VHF SQUELCH B – LMP. …Okay, noise threshold, plus one and a half…”


“AUDIO, both panels. VHF A – RECEIVE, and B – OFF…”

“A – RECEIVE and B is OFF, here,” I confirmed at my communications panel that is under the circuit breaker panel.

“Okay, MODE ICS/PTT (Intercomm System, Push-to-Talk)”

And RELAY – OFF,” Cernan continued down the Checklist while I verbally confirmed each action I took on the communications panel.

RELAY’s going OFF.”

Okay, on the comm, VHR A TRANMITTER – OFF.”





OFF and OFF.”


Okay, it’s LEFT.” Now, Cernan’s biomedical data would be transmitted on the telemetry link.





Okay, [now we are ready for] OPS/PLSS doffing. Disconnect OPS Actuator from RCU. Let’s do that for each other,” Cernan suggested.

Okay,” I agreed and turned around so that I again faced his position. The OPS Actuators came off the RCUs without difficulty.

Disconnect RCU from PGA. If it’s OFF, stand right where you are, and I’ll get your RCU disconnected from the PGA right here.”

Okay; let me check [that all the switches are off.] OFF, [and] OFF.” These were my water pump and oxygen fan switches, respectively.

Okay. Let’s see,” Cernan said and then he re-read the Checklist, “ ‘OPS Actuator. Disconnect RCUs from PGA; Verify fan; everything OFF. Disconnect RCU from PLSS.” He paused to take my RCU off, and then I took care of his after verifying that all the switches were OFF. “Disconnect RCU from PLSS and stow on engine cover. …Okay. Ready to go on?”

Okay.” I placed the RCUs on the Ascent Engine cover, ready to be jettisoned.

You can disconnect your PLSS hoses.”


Oh boy! These [lock-locks] really are getting stiff,” Cernan noted.

I’m not sure how many EVAs you can get out of a suit like this,” I added.

I’m not sure how many EVAs you can get out of anything. Look at the [tool connectors]. The [connectors] are frozen out there; everything has just quit running. Everything quit working. I don’t think you can get three EVAs in this dust unless you completely redesign your systems.”

Cernan exaggerated a lot with these comments. Yes, those connectors, latches, and Velcro straps exposed to dust eventually failed; however, the Rover bearings and moving parts worked perfectly. These items differed in that good engineering protected the Rover while no one knew how to keep dust out of connectors and latches that had to be repeatedly mated and de-mated. The only answer may be to avoid multiple-use extension handles and passive tie-downs like Velcro or have passive or active means of rejecting dust. Bungee-like tie-downs might be the answer.

“Probably have to have a bigger spacecraft,” I postulated, “so you can keep clean.”

Yes, but how are you going to keep all that stuff out there clean?”

No, but I mean you can [have] two compartments or something.” I meant that we would need a “dust lock’ comparable to an airlock in which the suits could be taken off and kept out of the main cabin.

Okay; you’re first,” Cernan said, turning back to the Checklist. “ ‘Doff PLSS/OPS. LMP first. Stow LMP PLSS on floor. Stow Commander’s PLSS on mid-step.’ “

Let me turn [back around].” I turned my back to Cernan, unhooked my PLSS straps, and he lowered my backpack to the floor in front of the hatch.

Would you like that for a souvenir (laughter)?” referring to my PLSSs.

Okay. I’ll hold it (Cernan’s PLSS) [up from the back],” I said, “if you can take your [front] straps off. …I don’t mind saying but my [UCD cuff hurts] I won’t say it. …We’re not VOX, [are we]? We’re not on hot mike, are we?”

Hello, Houston”, Cernan checked. “Are you reading, Seventeen?”

We’re not [hot mike]. No,” I verified.

My right hand is going to be sore for a week,” he said with a laugh, as he tried to unhook his PLSS straps. “My left hand isn’t going to be much better.”

“Okay, Houston,” I called, using the big, blue push-to-talk switch on my oxygen hose. “We’re back on LM comm.”

“Roger, Seventeen,” Parker answered. “We copy you loud and clear on LM comm…”

Okay, you got the [PLSS] strap [loose] there? I asked.

Yes. You got it (the PLSS)?”

I got it. Let it come off (your back).”


Going back to the Checklist, I read, “ ‘Doff PLSS/OPS. Stow PLSS on Floor. Stow Commander’s on Mid-Step.’” Now we needed a place to put Cernan’s PLSS. “Can you put that up there (Ascent Engine Cover area) [or] on the floor somewhere?”

Yes, but I don’t know how long it’ll stay on [that pile].” We had all our sample containers heaped in the same area.

“And Seventeen, …Jack and Gene, …we have a couple of – in fact, we have three – records here to read out to you guys. On Apollo Seventeen, [your have] two of them: one, the longest single EVA, 7 hours 37 minutes and 22 seconds [and, two,] the longest total lunar surface EVA time, 22 hours 5 minutes and 6 seconds. And a summary: the total lunar surface EVA time for the Apollo Program, 80 hours 44 minutes and 8 seconds.

“That’s quite a tribute to the people who made it possible. I’ll tell you. Thank you, Bob.

“Roger, Geno. And I can’t speak as authoritatively as some people have tonight, but for all of us around me, I’ll say thank you, also.”

“Your words are well taken. You know how I feel…”

Jack, we want to get the PLSSs, [I mean,] the OPSs we want to save.”

Still thinking about the records Parker mentioned, I said to Cernan, “Yes, that was great! Twenty-two hours and something?”

Over a quarter of the total [EVA] time. That’s okay. …We want to get the OPSs off.”

“Hey, Gene and Ron (Jack),” called Overmyer, who had been working with Evans, “this is the CSM CapCom. Thought you might be interested. Your buddy up above you there is chugging on and about ready to bed down himself, right now. And he did take a good look at the landing site through binoculars tonight and took a good look at Shorty Crater there, and plotted out some variations in color that may be the same color changes you saw – that orange soil and that. We’re trying to match it all up. And Farouk (El-Baz) and Ron are working it out. We’re trying to match it all up and see if we can get a comparison there.”

“Excellent,” I replied. “Tell him we’ll see him tomorrow.”

“Yeah, he’s counting on it….”

“How’s America looking to you, Bob?”

“Well, I’ll give an update,” answered Overmyer. “It’s working perfect. No problems at all and we got good SIM bay data on everything – the UV, the IR, the Lunar Sounder. And every data point we can see is just great. It’s just hardly any anomalies at all. Everything is just wonderful.”


Hey, get the connector plugs out [of the Purse], Gene. We’ll keep the dust out of there (OPS hoses) if we can.”

“Gene, about the total limit of any problem up there is – and it’s not a problem – is we’re just having to stir those H2 tanks manually because of that limiting cycle on the pressure switch there. We could go back to AUTO but it’s easier to go manual.”

“I’ll be back up there tomorrow,” I broke in, “and I’ll stir them for you.”

“Roger.” In exercising by running in place against America’s Lower Equipment Bay bulkhead, I had been told by the CSM ECCOM, Bill Moon, that the vibration had stirred the liquid hydrogen and oxygen tanks in the Service Module, eliminating their tendency to stratify, thermally.

Parker returned to the Capcom console and said, “And Jack and Gene, let me make a note here for you guys. There will be a series of references to this [item] throughout the checklist; but there’s a general thing and you might even put a piece of tape across it if you want to or something – rather than go through (the checklist) and call out (changes at) all the locations. We’ll leave PRESS REG A – CLOSED for the rest of the time. Might just keep that in mind.”

“Okay, Bob, I think we’ll handle that one okay.” Cernan said this even though he had become confused about this a few minutes earlier.

‘Stow OPS hose and actuator,’ ” I read.

I’m trying.”

‘Install gas connector plugs,’ “ I continued. “And then, ‘Commander First, Disconnect OPS Antenna Lead.’ “

Oh, oh, oh,” Cernan moaned. “I hit one of those [with my fingers]. …I need new fingers. You can’t see if they’re bleeding or not because it’s all…It’s all black [with dust].”

‘Remove OPS and Stow Antenna Lead,’ “ I read, ignoring Cernan complaining about something all lunar crewmen experienced. If he had worn the hand inserts inside the pressure glove, his soreness might have not been so bad, although his hands may have swollen more for him than was normal due to fluid shift in reduced gravity. ‘ “Perform OPS Checkout. Report OPS Pressure To Houston. Stow OPS On Engine Cover.’ Okay?”

“Gene,” called Overmyer, again, “there’s one thing you may be interested in as the Commander.” As if I were not equally interested. “We’re going to have to do two burns tomorrow on America. The mascons didn’t deteriorate the orbit as much as everybody thought it (they) was (would), so there’s going to be an RCS (Reaction Control System) burn about an hour prior to the LOPC (Lunar Orbit Plane Change) burn.”

[Due to the relatively high inclination of America’s orbit for the Taurus-Littrow landing, over the three days we were on the surface, Evans’s spacecraft had crossed fewer of the gravitational anomalies in the large basins than had been assumed would be the case in the original mission planning. This oversight seems strange, unless MPAD (Mission Planning and Analysis Division) just assumed what had happened to other mission orbits would happen to ours. They certainly should have noted that our orbit ground track would miss a number of the large basin manscons. The post-Apollo GRAIL mission’s model of lunar gravity should eliminate this issue for future planners. The extra RCS burn would put America into the 60 nm circular orbit originally planned for our ascent and rendezvous, saving a bit of the Challenger’s ascent propellants for any possible contingencies.]

“That’s interesting, Bob. Are you going to do a DOI 3 (Descent Orbit Insertion), huh?” Cernan was misusing the DOI terminology. This burn merely constituted a refinement of America’s orbit in order to add performance margins for our ascent and rendezvous.

“Well, yeah, I guess that’s what it’ll be,” Overmyer agreed so as not to argue. “It’s going to be an RCS burn at about 11 foot per second. It’ll drop the…it’ll circularize the orbit and then we’ll do the plane change burn…”

What was your [OPS] pressure, Gene?”

I didn’t get to it yet. I haven’t taken it (his OPS) off.”

“Okay, and Seventeen,” Parker interjected, “we’d like you to press on reasonably diligently tonight. You’re just about on schedule, but, if we can turn off this Marine (Overmyer), we’d like you guys to press on. We’re looking at a nominal launch time and we’ve used up, of course, all the MCC-H (Mission Control Center-Houston) conference (timeline pad) but we think you’re within a few minutes of being right on. If you can press on like you did last night we’ll be in great shape.” The MCC-H conference, in the Flight Plan for 60 minutes prior to our sleep period, constituted a placeholder in case any systems issues needed to be discussed.

“Okay, Bob. I never stopped doing what I wanted to do anyway even though a Marine was talking…”

Jack, you can tell them it’s (OPS pressure) six zero, ….about 6100.”

“Okay. CDR’s OPS – 6100[psi]; LMP – 6500.”

I just forgot to connect my hose,” Cernan said.

Which hose?”

My OPS hose.” I had read this procedure off the Checklist when we were removing the PLSS from our backs. Noticing the pain in his hands may have caused him to miss completing this step. This error meant that his OPS was venting into the cabin. Connecting the hose back into the OPS stopped any flow.

Yes, you got to check it (the flow regulator) though,” I said with a laugh, giving him some cover for the mistake.

That [oxygen flow] build up the cabin [pressure]?”

No, not much,” I noted after checking the Cabin Pressure gage.

Okay. I’m regulating [at] 3.9[psi],” Cernan reported to me.

Looks like Ron’s got a good OPS [as a backup for his EVA],” I commented. “Hope we don’t need them (OPSs) for transfer.” I was referring to the need for the OPSs oxygen and pressurization if, for some reason, we could not dock with the America after rendezvous.

Yes, I checked that thing (OPS hose connection), I thought,” protested Cernan.

“Okay, Houston this is the LMP. LMP’s OPS is regulating at 4.25. And the CDR’s is 3.9.”

“Okay, I copy that,” Parker replied. If one of the OPSs had not passed the pressure requirement or the regulator test, we would jettison it and keep and recharge one of the PLSSs so that an undocked transfer could be made. Also, in the remote possibility that all of many means failed to start the Ascent Engine, we would have to take our jumper cable down to a Descent Stage battery for power to open the fuel and oxidizer valves. One of us would need an OPS for a brief EVA to attach the two jumper cables. The Challenger’s Descent batteries are located in Quad II and III, just behind the –Z landing gear in the back of the Descent Stage, so the jumper cables had to be quite long. I recall that we did one unsuited walk-through of the jumper procedures.[23]

“That [number] might be [high on my OPS regulator],” I said. “Let me bleed it [the OPS oxygen) off and let me see what it regulates at next time. I didn’t have my hose locked, Bob, and it (the hose) came off the first try.” This interpretation of the 4.25 psi regulated pressure I reported is inconsistent with the fact that, if the hose was leaking, the regulated pressure should have read lower than 4.25. We needed to get this right or we might have to off-load samples to compensate for liftoff mass of an 80 pound PLSS.

“Bob, we’ll take another OPS check later on,” Cernan said, “when we stow them. We’re pressing on…”

‘[Stow] PLSS Hoses. Remove lower…” Cernan then realized that he had skipped some steps and went back to read, “ ‘Remove OPS.’ It (the Checklist) says ‘Commander first’, so let me finish out now. ‘Remove OPS and stow antenna leads…

“Jack,” Parker interrupted, again, “they’re (EVA Console} saying we better do that [second OPS check] before you throw out the PLSSs because we have to verify a good one before you dump the PLSSs.”

“Okay, we’ll do that.” Then I took over reviewing the Checklist. “ ‘Perform OPS Checkout. …Report OPS Pressure To Houston. …Stow OPS On Engine Cover. …Stow PLSS…’ Okay, this is mine [as we have done yours]. ‘Stow PLSS Hoses And Upper Straps. …Remove Lower Straps. …Clip Straps Together And D-ring Together – Name To Name. …Remove Yo-Yo [from suit]. …Stow On Engine Cover.’ “ We worked through all these items in sequence, this time.


Then I added, “But I’m not going to throw my yo-yo away.”

“Okay, Houston,” I called, “we rechecked the LMP’s OPS and it’s regulating at 4.25 [psi], again.”

“Is that a steady 4.25, Jack?”

“Yeah, it’s done that twice now…”

“Okay, and it’s steady once you do a check, right?” insisted Parker.

“Right. It’s open now. We’ve been watching it for about a minute, now.”

“Okay, we’ll go with it then, Jack.”


[At this point, the Challenger’s onboard tape recorder ran out of tape due to it having remained on throughout EVA-3 as discussed below.]

“Doesn’t sound like Parker trusts us, Gene. …Okay, moving on. …‘Stow Straps In Aft LHSSC (Left Hand Spacecraft Stowage Compartment). …Stow PLSS on Floor.’ …That’s your PLSS taken care of now lets move mine to the Mid Step.”[24] From there, we repeated the procedures to prepare my PLSS for jettison.

“Okay, Jack, now we verify the Powerdown configurations of the circuit breaker panels – white dots out.”

“I’m good on Panel 16.”

“And they’re good over here,” Cernan said.

“Okay, we are at ‘Prep For Equip Jett. …Stow Return Items in ISA (Interim Stowage Assembly) Big Pocket.’ Let’s see, we want the Cuff Checklists and the yo-yos. The regular checklists will all stay in their places… ‘Unstow Scale.’ It’s in my Stowage Compartment over here.”

“Okay, Bob,” I called, “we’re going to start the (sample) weighing process here…”

“Okay we’re ready to copy…”

“It might take a couple minutes to get things squared away,” Cernan added. The sample containers lay underneath a bunch of other stuff in the back part of the cabin.

“Okay, give us a call. We’re ready to copy the weights.”

“Bob, “sample [bag] 15 Echo has a bunch of dust that gradually accumulated in my [lower leg] pocket.”

“No fair, Jack!,” Parker exclaimed. “You can’t go collecting samples after the EVA’s over!”

“Gene, I can’t find Containment Bag 5, right now, so lets use Bag 3 for SCB 5 and just mark out the 3 and put a 5 there instead. We should find number 5 in here later, someplace.”


“Say Bob, right now I can’t find the Sample Containment Bag number 5. Number 5 collection bag (SCB) will be in [Containment] bag 3.”

“Okay, we note that. Thank you. Very good…”

“Okay, and we’re going to cross out ‘3’ on the bag, and put a ‘5’ on it.”

“Okay, or I think we could keep track of it otherwise; but that’s fine.”

“That’s for our reference too,” I reminded Parker. “Okay, Gene. If you hold the scale, I will start trying to find the SCBs back here (rear of cabin)…” We had Sample Containment Bags with matching numbers to put around each SCB, with the aim of reducing the amount of dust that could get into the cabin and later into the America’s cabin. Unfortunately, most of the dust that would follow us into America would come off our suits.

“Alright, Jack, I’m ready.”

“Here’s bag 7,” I began.

“32 pounds,” Cernan measured and recorded.

“Bag 4.”

“31.5 pounds”

“So, here is the new Containment Bag 5.”

“21 pounds.”

“Now, the Big Bag.”

“71 pounds.”

“And the ISA.” The Interim Stowage Assembly (ISA) contained various, no longer needed flight items that we would return to Earth. The ISA consists of a number of bags on a frame that could be moved around the cabin to be out of the way as required.

“22 pounds.”

“And that’s it, I guess. Not a bad haul, Geno, for the last EVA on the Moon for a while.” Cernan seemed too tired to respond, as I set the weighed bags on the Ascent Engine Cover.

“Okay, Bob,” Cernan called, “you ready [for the weights]?

“Roger. We’re ready…”

“Okay, bag 7 is 32 (pounds), bag 4 is 31.5, bag 5 is 21, the Big Bag is 71, [and] the ISA is 22…”

“Okay, we have those five weights there, Geno. We have 32 for number 7, 31.5 for number 4, 21 for number 5, 71 for the big bag, and 22 for the ISA.” It is not clear at this point where the missing SCB 5 cover is.

“That’s affirm,” I said, “and we’re standing by for your GO for jettison…”

“Okay Seventeen. Challenger, we are ready for jettison.”

“Roger,” Cernan responded, adding an unnecessary, “understand.”

“Gene, we are right here on the ‘PREP FOR EQUIPMENT JETTISON’ Checklist. ‘Verify Total DESCENT O2 QUANTITY’, both tanks, greater than 31%, and they both are. Now, you need to UNLOCK the Forward Hatch Handle.”

[I do not recall what the contingency plan would have been if the Descent Stage O2 tanks had been below 31%, if this jettison rule were not met. It may never have been discussed, although I suspect that SIMSUP had subjected the Flight Controllers to this problem during a training simulation. I suspect that, after a lot of discussion in Houston, we would have gone ahead with the jettison provided the O2 quantity was not dangerously low. We still had Ascent Stage O2 to fall back on. If the Descent Stage O2 quantity was below an acceptable level, we might have eliminated the planned sleep period and left the Moon 8 or 10 hours early, even though the extra mass of the PLSSs would have cut into our ascent fuel margins. This also would have moved America’s orbit adjustment burns to an earlier time, and the nominal 60 nm rendezvous orbit might have been reduced. All of the rendezvous data in the PINGS and AGS, of course, would have needed to be revised and an early star alignment of the guidance platform preformed. Although we were tired, an early rendezvous certainly could have been done.]

“Got it UNLOCKED.”

“Now, we use the ISS (Interim Stowage System) to wrap up our Lunar Boots, four of them…”

“Got that.”

“…two RCUs…”

“Two RCUs.”

“…one Armrest…”

“One Armrest.”

“…and two Yo-Yos.”

“Two Yo-Yos.”

“Now,” I continued, “lets put the PLSSs on the Engine Cover and the Mid-step. …How do your wrist rings look? Do they need cleaning and lubrication.”

“Mine look good, but why don’t we clean and lub just to be sure.”

“Okay by me.” We took a minute or two to wipe off and lubricate the suit wrist rings. Our helmets, of course, were still on.

“You know, Jack, we ought to keep our boots and EV gloves.”

“I think that is an excellent idea.”

“We both have an extra pair of EV gloves, but since the ones we have been using are good, lets jettison the new pair to compensate some for keeping the boots. Every pound jettisoned is worth doing.”

“Why not,” I agreed. “We certainly should take the used gloves back so that the wear on them can be evaluated.” We also each had a pair of IV gloves as backup.

“Audio is next and we both go to VOX and adjust sensitivity as required.”

“How do you read, Bob?” Cernan asked after going to VOX.

“Loud and clear, Seventeen. And Challenger, we’d like to keep out the original BSLSS bag, the one that you launched with. We think we’re going to need that to stow samples in.”

“Okay, …it’s out [of the jettison bag],” I replied.

“Okay.” Then to confuse us, Parker added, “Or, it’s in [the spacecraft], we hope.”

“[Gene,] I’ve got it over here.”


“Recorder’s, ON,” I said, not yet knowing that the tape had been used up.

“We want it (the BSLSS bag) kept in the cabin, right?” Parker had not heard me say that I had it out of the Jettison Bag.

“Okay, ‘Don EV Gloves,’ “ read Cernan. “[Lets] see if I can’t get a little grease, yet, out of some of these things (tubes of hand lubricant]. …Don your gloves, Jack, if you’re [ready].”

“Okay, [but] the recorder’s not giving us any recording, though.” I could see no tape movement indication. …Why isn’t the recorder recording? …Are we out of tape?”

“[Should] be 8 hours on it…”

“I don’t think I left it on [during the EVA]. Might have left it on. I probably did, if it’s on now [and not recording]. … I thought I read it in the checklist though. Don Arabian will never forgive me!”

[Apparently, in the distraction of delaying my EVA-3 Egress to work the problem with the cabin oxygen regulator, I missed the Cuff Checklist item to turn off the voice and data recorder in the cabin. Review of the tape transcript shows that it recorded the entire EVA-3 and ran out of tape just as we were doffing our PLSSs. Arabian oversaw the contractor representatives that provide mission support to Mission Control. Engineering data recorded on the tape, in addition to our voices when not transmitting to the MOCR, gave detailed information on the function of various Challenger systems. (The only bright side of this screw-up is that Arabian now had 8 hours of data on LM systems without the crew in the cabin!)]

“Shall we save ourselves some ascent weight?” Parker joked, bringing a laugh from me. He may have been suggesting that I be jettisoned for this oversight. “Unfortunately, Owen [Morris] wasn’t listening.” Morris headed the LM engineering office at the Manned Spacecraft Center. Parker made this reference because that office might be interested in the data we would not record during ascent and rendezvous.

“Well it was okay up until [Egress]. It was just this EVA, if it was on, Bob…because it was working when we prepped, I’m sure of that.”

“Okay. You can don your EV gloves,” Cernan continued with the Checklist. “And we’ll check each other’s connectors again.”

“I’ll take my Cuff Checklists off,” I said, just realizing that I had not done this earlier.

“Needless to say, you don’t have to put your dust covers on, Jack, if that makes you feel better. …Oh, boy!” Cernan’s exclamation came as he put his sore hand back into a glove.

“Dirt’s just as [dirty as before],” I commented to myself.

“Bob, how long were we out today, 7 what?” Cernan asked.

“Stand by, we got it here someplace. 7 hours…7 hours 15 minutes and 31 seconds.”

“How many kilometers did we put on the Rover?

“We have an approximate total of about 36.1.”

‘Boy, this one (glove) is really getting stiff,” I interjected.

“Probably another 1/2 kilometer on that [total],” Cernan added, “when the Nav wasn’t working (not turned on).”

“Yeah; since we didn’t get distance readouts all the time, we sort of interpolated those distances there, Gene.”

Cernan moved over to help with my glove. “Push on the [unlock] button,” I suggested.

“Are you opening or closing?”

“Closing; trying to.”

“You don’t have to push on the button to close it,” Cernan contradicted, not knowing that I was trying to loosen the locking mechanism.

“Well, yeah…”

“They’re [still] not locked,” but then the ring snapped closed as he worked it.

“Now I know why I brought you,” I kidded.

“Jack, did you put those gloves on?”

“I don’t know. I was listening to you for one thing. Boy, it (the glove mechanism) is stiff though. …[I may] never get it off.” Then I turned to help Cernan with his second glove.

“I [want to put] this thing (suit fabric) down there so it doesn’t…tangle [with the wrist ring].”

“Wait a minute,” I said. “Okay.”

“I just don’t want to [fail the leak check]. …[That’s] all we need…”

“Good,” I said as the glove ring snapped into place. “Okay.”

“…Okay, EV gloves are donned. Let’s check our PGA [hose] connectors. Do you want to check mine?”

“That’s locked. …That’s locked,” I said as I checked his red and blue hose connections. “Okay. …Helmets shouldn’t have changed.”

Cernan then checked my PGA hose connections: “That’s locked; locked.” Then, he rechecked my helmet ring: “locked; locked. …[Lean] over, I can’t see. Locked. …Okay.” Reading a note in the Checklist, Cernan said, “ ‘[LM] Suit circuit shall not be maintained at elevated pressure greater than 5 minutes’. Okay, we want to do an integrity check here. And we’re not going to use REG A at all.”

“Right.” I turned toward the ECS panel while he began to read the items required for a pressure integrity check on our suits and the cabin suit circuit.



“Now you can verify all that other stuff. Can you get it back there? …‘CABIN GAS RETURN [VALVE] – EGRESS, verify.’ ”



“Okay, it’s going CLOSED…CLOSED.”

“Okay, PRESSURE REG [A]. …Okay; let’s leave A OFF, and PRESSURE REG B to DIRECT O2. [Monitor Cuff Gage to 3.7 to 4.0, and then go to EGRESS], and we’ll check on [pressure] decay.”

“Okay, go on to…”

“Wait a minute [before you go DIRECT O2],” Cernan said, “I should have [unlocked the front hatch, first].” He wanted to do this before I pressurized the suits.


“Okay, it’s unlocked. Okay, [now go DIRECT O2].”

“[REG B going] DIRECT O2. …How high do they want the suit?” I asked just to be certain.

“3.7 to 4.0 [on the] cuff gauge.”

“Okay. …Want some [drinking] water?” I asked, reaching for the water gun.

“It’s (suit pressure) coming up, slowly. …Yeah, you can give me some water.” I inserted the water gun in the port on his helmet and he shot off a few ounces of water. Then I helped myself.

“Off the peg [on my pressure gauge],” I reported.

“Okay, I’m off the peg,” confirmed Cernan, as the needle in his suit pressure gage began to move.

“There, you’re coming up on 3.5,” I confirmed, looking at my gage.

“Okay, when you hit 3.7, I’ll be with you. So you can…”

“Okay 3.7,” I said and turned PRESSURE REG B to EGRESS to stop flow into our suits.”

‘Okay. MARK it. One minute. …You did go EGRESS, right?


“Okay…” Then, pointing to a PLSS, Cernan asked, “Do you think I can throw it out?”

Laughing at this, I said, “Well, it’s supposed to be possible to do.”

“Hope so, I would not want to launch with two PLSSs in here. …Okay, we’ve got another 15 seconds to go. …Okay, MARK it. One minute. You can go to SUIT CIRCUIT RELIEF (valve) – AUTO.”

“Okay, SUIT [CIRCUIT RELIEF – AUTO]. Watch your ears.” I warn Cernan about his ears because this action would cause the suit to come rapidly to the cabin pressure and sometimes caused ears to pop like one experiences when going from high to low altitude.



“And Seventeen,” Parker said, “we’re watching you, and you look good to us. You’re GO.”

“Okay, I had about two tenths [psi pressure decay],” I reported.” This decay included my breathe-down of oxygen and the delayed fill-in of spaces in the suit as well as any slight leak from the suit.

“And I had two tenths,” added Cernan. “3.7 to 3.5. …Okay, let’s make sure we got everything [done]. You went to 4.0, then you went to EGRESS, then we monitor [decay]. SUIT CIRCUIT RELIEF – AUTO; [Suit Circuit] pressure is decaying at 4.8. Okay, that’s good. Okay. We’re GO for cabin depress.”

“Roger. Roger, you’re Go from Houston.”

“Okay, [on circuit breaker panel] 16 ECS CABIN REPRESS – OPEN.”

“Okay, REPRESS coming OPEN. Circuit breaker’s OPEN.” This action prevents the Challenger from trying to repressurize the cabin when we open the dump valve on the hatch.

“This time I think I’ll get this [front hatch] valve down here,” Cernan declared, not having to worry about having a PLSS on his back.

“They want this left in AUTO?” pointing to the SUIT CIRCUIT RELIEF valve. I could not view the Checklist at this point and wanted to be sure we had not missed something.



“All you want is 16 CABIN REPRESS – OPEN.”


“ ‘OVERHEAD or FORWARD DUMP VALVE – OPEN and then AUTO at 3.5 [psi].’ ”

“Get that one (FORWARD DUMP VALVE) down there, now,” Cernan told me. Without the PLSS, I could reach that valve while he watched the cabin pressure gage.

“Okay, you ready?” I asked.

“Okay, go ahead. I’ll give you a call at 3.5. …CIRCUIT RELIEF was AUTO, right?”

“Yep. …Okay, going OPEN.

“Okay, it’s (cabin pressure) coming down,” Cernan noted. “I want you [to go] Auto at 3.5, I give you a call. My suit [pressure] is going up. …MARK it. Okay, you’re 3.5.” I went to AUTO on the Dump Valve. “ ‘Verify cabin 3.5 and LM suit circuit locked up at 4.3 and decaying.’ Okay, it’s about 4.6 and decaying. …How’s it look to you, Houston?”

“Looks good to us, Seventeen,” responded Parker, getting a thumbs-up from Hal Loden at the LM Control Consol.

“Okay, Jack. OVERHEAD…make it the FORWARD DUMP [valve] – OPEN. And I’ll verify we lock up [on the Suit Circuit pressure]. …[The cabin pressure] is decaying, the AUTO’s (function) working. …Locking up, and the cabin’s at 1 [psi]…”

I moved back into my corner so that the hatch could swing into me. Cernan said, “Okay, HATCH OPENING. Downward [on the handle]. …Jack, when I get the hatch partially opened, you can go to AUTO on that [Dump] Valve.”

“Still no good words about the gravimeter (the LSG), huh, Bob?” I asked, while waiting as Cernan kept testing the pressure against the hatch.

“No, there’s an outside chance that it’s been a little cold. And they’re hoping that if it warms up, that it may take care of itself; but, no, everybody’s very sad about that.”

“Well, I could have sprinkled dirt on it, maybe.” It was a little too late to think about that.

“Let me go after the hatch, Jack…”

“Still about 0.2[psi]. …Okay, you want that Dump Valve in AUTO?”

“I can get it from here.”


“And the [dump valve’s] lock/lock’s on. [Jack], turn around over here. Boy I wish it’d take some of that dust out. [We don’t need] it.”

“Gotta turn. Wait [a second].” …I moved out of the way of the hatch as Cernan brought it fully open.

“The hatch is open, Houston. …And Danny’s not out there to hand us in the lightweight PLSSs!” (reference to our suit engineer, Danny Schaiewitz, and to mock-up PLSSs we used during training)

“Okay. Here goes the old…” Then, I hesitated a moment. “Whose PLSS is this now?”

“Well, look at it (your PLSS), if you want a memory.”

“That must be yours; it’s [marked] red. No, that’s mine. …No, it’s yours. Here goes the old Commander’s PLSS,” I said, finally getting the drama right.

“Okay, baby thanks for doing a good job. And that was a backup PLSS too.” Late in the mission preparations, for some reason, it had been decided to fly Cernan’s backup PLSS rather than the one originally manifested for the mission.

“Well, that wasn’t very good,” I commented after leaning over the hatch and shoving the PLSS as hard as I could. The PLSS just barely slid to the edge of the platform and bounced down the ladder.

“It walked down the ladder.”

“It went down as gracefully as you did,” I kidded.

“Look at that,” Cernan said as his PLSS came to rest just in view of his window (Fig. 12.261↑). “Okay, what’s next?”

“Well, I can give you some of these (items in the ISS). …Everything is in here.”

[My statement was not exactly true as we kept our lunar boots and yo-yos for return to Earth. We, in fact still had our lunar boots on. I do not know what eventually happened to my boots and yo-yo – I hope they ended up in the Smithsonian collection. Cernan reportedly sold his yo-yo for $50,000 in 2006. I am not aware of how he gained possession of this item as well as checklists, maps and other items he has sold through the years. Someone at the Manned Spacecraft Center gave them to him rather than transferring everything to the Smithsonian as would normally have been legally required at the time. Neither Evans nor I ever received any of these things from Cernan, but he seemed to sell portions of this collection at various times through the years. The only item that really got my goat was his sale of the lunar map on which I had sketched color boundaries I observed as we left the Moon.[25] In 2012, a recent Act of Congress (HR4158) eventually allowed these types of materials to be legally retained by the astronauts and others who had received them as gifts.]

“Okay. That’s the first thing,” Cernan said as I handed him his unused EV gloves.

“Beautiful gloves,” I observed, referring to their pristine condition.

“Well, Houston, I think we ought to probably just mention, anyway, we are jettisoning two sets of EVA gloves. I think that’s worth mentioning. Because they did their job!” What Cernan was thinking as he made this comment, I am not sure. We still wore the EVA gloves that we had used for three EVAs and the ones being jettisoned were the unneeded backup gloves.

“Just like everything else did its job,” I added, conveniently forgetting the few problems we had had. “Let me jettison mine.”


“Ooops, we didn’t get them clear [of the porch],” I said with a laugh.

“Okay, we copy two sets of EVA gloves to the surface for the last time,” Parker acknowledged, dramatically.

“They’re very reluctant [to leave],” Cernan joked, with a laugh. “What else have you got there?

“ISS?” This is the Interim Stowage System in which a number of items had been wrapped.

“[Lets swing it] together,” he suggested.

“The other ISS,” I clarified to distinguish this ISS from the Inertial Sensor System within the Challenger’s guidance hardware.

“That it?”

“Nope, one more,” I told him. “Got one more thing.”

“[Your] PLSS.”

“No wait,” I asked as Cernan moved to get my PLSS off the Midstep.

“Oh, is there something [caught]?”

“Watch it.”

“[Its] this [strap], I’ll get it. …Okay, let’s get this out.”

“Okay, the old LMP’s PLSS,” I said with suppressed sadness.

“[Remember,] that OPS stays where it is.”

“Okay, get it down there,” I advised as we put the PLSS on the floor and moved the end over the hatch sill, “and then put your foot against it, and it’ll probably go. …The only geologist’s PLSS on the Moon. …Good boy. Have fun PLSS. Ooh…” The PLSS had hung up on the porch and Cernan had to bend down and push it again with his foot.

“That’ll stay there [on the surface]. Okay, we got everything else?” asked Cernan.

“Okay…” Later, we took photographs of the jettisoned items (AS17-145-22196, 199 and 211; see Fig. 12.261↑).

Hatch seal clear?”

“[Looks] Pretty good,” I answered.

“Pretty good from here.”

“Too bad we don’t have a broom.” I mused, looking down at the dust still remaining on the floor.

“Is that everything else? Nothing else here to go. Nothing behind you. Nothing here. …Okay!”

“Hatch going closed,” I reported. …Get to do this again tomorrow.” We will have a final jettison of our final unneeded items (hammocks, food, and trash) after breakfast.

“I know it. Okay, Forward Hatch – CLOSED. Let me see if I can’t lock it. …Okay, it’s LOCKED…”

“Okay,” I said, now looking at the Checklist again. “ ‘CABIN REPRESS [section]: Dump valves, Both – AUTO, verify.’ “

“They all are AUTO,” he said, adding, “and LOCKED.”

“Okay.” I turned away from the Checklist and faced the circuit breaker and ECS panels for the next steps Cernan would now read.

“ ‘CABIN REPRESS – AUTO. Verify.’ “


“ ‘On 16, [circuit breaker] CABIN REPRESS – CLOSED.’ “

“Repress going CLOSED,” I responded.

“MASTER ALARM AND CABIN WARNING LIGHT – ON.” There it is. …Cabin’s coming up. …Okay, it’s increasing and you go to CABIN on that one [good] Reg.”


“Okay, cabin’s coming [up]. …It’s about 5 [psi]. …Okay, [warning] lights are off. …Repress stopped. Cabin pressure stable. … Okay, Houston, Challenger; we’re going to take off our gloves…” No response from Parker.

“Hello, Houston,” I called in case Cernan’s communications link had gone bad. “How does it look?”

“Roger,” a distracted Parker finally replied. “You look stable, and…stand by. …Okay, you’re GO to unsuit there, guys…”

“Speaking of suits. These things perform super!”

[In subsequent years, I also praised the Apollo A7L and A7LB suits and PLSSs as having done a remarkable job, given that they were the first to be designed, developed and custom fitted for use on the lunar surface. I continuously advocated, however, for “one-half the mass, twice the mobility, and exterior surfaces that passively or actively reject dust.” I also made the point that future suits need to be capable for 10s if not 100s of use cycles rather than the three cycles to which we exposed them. The “xEMU” designed for the Artemis Program to return to the Moon, although reported to have better mobility than the A7LB (but not twice) and an integrated helmet and PLSS, is nonetheless much heavier and does not reject dust. It has parts that can be mixed and matched for fitting. Its potential number of use cycles has not been reported. It will be interesting to hear of its actual performance when used on the Moon.]

A minute later, after taking his gloves off, he added, “Okay, and we can get our helmets off.”

“If I can ever get unsuited (gloves off)…” Cernan turned towards me to help, pulling on the glove before the wrist bearing was unlocked. “That’s my hand,” I said with a laugh. “Let me try the other one.”

“Oh, let me get it for you,” Cernan offered. “I’m free here. No sense [not to help each other]. …Yeah, but I’m [sore],” and we both laughed. “There. Okay.”

“The right one went [off] easy last night. I think they’re all really getting [dusty]. …Oh, and the helmet is off, and I’m stowing it in the BRA!,” he said with significant emphasis. “Well, there’s no changing our minds now [about EVA-4], the PLSSs are going to be hard to retrieve. …But you could if you had to, though.”

Challenger, Houston. From the old backup crew that followed you every step of the way, super job on EVA you guys.” This was Charlie Duke jumping in on the Capcom loop.

“Thank you, John.” How Cernan confused Duke’s Georgia accent with John’s Oklahoma accent, I’ll never know. “Appreciate the words, Jose. But we also appreciate your helping us get it this far.”

“Roger, Neil,” Duke said as a dig.

“Hey, you know, and all those things you tell people. …Was that Charlie!?” exclaimed Cernan. “I haven’t heard your voice since down [at the Cape]. …You know all those good things you tell us about dust and all those other things: you know, you believe them all just like everybody else does, but you’ve just got to come out here and experience it for yourself to really be a believer.”

“Yeah, well I take it back about it all looks the same.” Duke, who had explored the geologically relatively undulating Descartes area on Apollo 16, had allowed at some point during training that he thought the Moon looked pretty much the same everywhere. The spectacular TV from mountain-walled valley of Taurus-Littrow apparently changed his mind.

“Hey, it really doesn’t, Charlie; but all those physical things (constraints of the suit, etc.) you get handicapped with… There’s a lot of easy things [you can do] as far as one-sixth g, but all those other things [you have to do yourself]. You know there’s nothing like doing it to be a believer.”

“Well, you guys did it great.”

“Charlie, it may all look the same,” I interjected, “but Taurus-Littrow, mark my words, has some variety.”

“Yeah, we could tell that, Jack. Great job.”

“Thank you, Charlie; and thank you for all the help.”

“Hey, Charlie,” Cernan continued, “remember a long time ago [on Apollo 10] when I said something about being down among them. I didn’t know what it was until we got here.”

[Duke had been an Apollo 10 Capcom when Tom Stafford and Cernan flew their Lunar Module down to about 10 nm above the future landing site of Apollo 11 (see Chapter 2). Although the crew often said in later years that they could have landed, the Lunar Module Snoopy, LM-4, was itself not capable of landing. Armstrong’s LM-5, the Eagle, was the first spacecraft that could actually land.]

Challenger, we have a good word from the old program manager,” Parker interrupted. “Even though you guys were pretty piggy there in bringing rocks back, we’re going to let you keep them all. You only busted the red line (overweight) by 40 pounds.”

“[Jack,] “Where are we [in the checklist]?”

“That assumes your good buddy upstairs gets a good plane change tomorrow,” said Slayton, adding a dose of reality.

“Okay. He’s a pretty good guy anyway.” Evans needed to make a plane change in America that would minimize the energy Challenger would have to gain to make a direct rendezvous.

“Oh, he will [make the plane change],” I assured Slayton, “and I’ll tell you, Gene and I both have lost 20 pounds apiece on this mission,” I added, exaggerating a little. Our weight loss probably was about half that amount.

“We can believe that.”

“Verify safeties [on the hatch dump valves],” Cernan noted from the Checklist. Hey, we’re on VOX anyway. Let’s go to ICS/PTT.” This was the next item in the Checklist.

“It’s safer that way,” agreed Parker. In working on this Diary, I now wish we had stayed in a voice activation mode of VOX, particularly as the recorder in the Challenger had run through its load of tape.

“Yeah, specially when you don’t know you’re talking,” said Cernan’s voice of Apollo 10 experience. “…Okay, we came to the end of the EVA-3 Prep and Post [cue] card.”

“Roger. We’re following you to the surface checklist.”

“Hey, Jack and I are going to frame this page 2-3 [cue card]; cut it down the middle and each take half.” 2-3 is the cue card for preparing for a one-man EVA in the event of a PLSS failure.

“I’m going to take the front half,” I asserted. “Gene will take the back half.” My implication here was that if a bad PLSS meant that only one of us could explore Taurus-Littrow, it would be the geologist.

[Management probably would have made the call as to who would do which EVA had it ever been necessary; however, a plan for one-man EVAs was never formally discussed with the crew. It would not surprise me if such an eventuality may have been part of a simulation run by Mission Control in the run-up to the mission.

As the primary reason for my presence on the Apollo 17 crew was solely to put a geologist and a scientist on the Moon, even though I believe my proficiency as a Lunar Module Pilot was second to only Fred Haise. I suspect that I would have conducted at least two EVAs under circumstances requiring one-man excursions. Further, I had done most of the training in deploying the ALSEP. Actually, a reasonable plan would have been for me to do EVA-1 and deploy the flag and the ALSEP (except for the drilling activities). Then, in the time remaining, I would collect a suite of samples of regolith and from boulders around nearby impact craters in the subfloor. To do so, I could move away from the Challenger out to the walk-back distance determined by the consumables remaining in the PLSS. This distance might have included 1 km to the rim of Camelot (Station 5). Several charges for the Active Seismic Experiment might be deployed during all of this activity.

EVA-2 would be Cernan’s, during which he would do the drilling for the Heat Flow Experiment, the deep drill core, and neutron probe. As extracting the deep drill core would turn out to be difficult, he would require significant extra time and patience to do so without assistance. On this EVA, Cernan also could take a few measurements with the Traverse Gravimeter at the landing point, the ALSEP site, and possibly one or two other locations within walk-back constraints. With the time remaining on the recharged good PLSS, he could move 1.5 km off to the southeast (roughly Station 1) and sample the subfloor materials and regolith, as well as deploy additional seismic charges.

I would then take on EVA-3 with a plan to go 3 km directly to boulders at the base of the North Massif (roughly Station 6), examine and sample these boulders until walk-back consumables dictated a return to the Challenger. Two seismic charges could be deployed between the Challenger and the Massif and at the base of the Massif. Obviously, knowing what we know now, some time would have been spent on trying to get the now infamous Lunar Surface Gravimeter to work, though maybe not as much time as I actually had used.

Finally, as consumables existed for six individual EVAs and my suit had only been used for two, an extra day on the Moon and an EVA-4 probably could be considered as the crewman remaining in the Challenger would have not consumed oxygen and water at nearly the rate during work on the surface. As further exploration would be the goal of this fourth excursion, I would conduct this EVA. There would be a choice between walking 4.5 km to Shorty Crater (Station 4) to check on the volcanic hypothesis for its origin, as well as to sample the light mantle, or to walk 6.5 km to the base of the South Massif (equivalent to Station 2) or 5 km to Bear Mountain (possible equivalent to Station 8 based on now available LRO data). This decision would need to consider the physical experiences of EVA-3, the energy requirements for an increased plane change by America, and the willingness of NASA management to take the additional risks involved with not having both crewmen assisting each other. By the time a decision on this needed to be made, I would have adapted to “skiing” in one-sixth g on the earlier EVAs, and any of these objectives could have been reached in less than four hours round trip with possibly as much as three hours for sampling. Again, two more seismic charges could be set out at appropriate intervals relative to the geophone array at the ALSEP site.

Relative to transporting various tools on exploration traverses, the following seem reasonable: devise an improvised loop on a SCB for attachment to the left arm, switch the scoop back and forth between hands, carry the hammer in a shin pocket, and clip a set of tongs to a yo-yo at a hip. The scoop also would be useful for balance like a ski pole. The SCB could contain one or two sets of drive tubes, extra sample bags, and extra film magazines as well as being a sample return bag. Samples could also be carried in the other leg pocket.

Carrying a couple seismic charges might have presented a challenge; however, I am certain that some means of strapping or taping them to the thighs of the suit could have been devised as new plans were formulated. Additionally, seismic charges placed within a few hundred meters of Challenger on EVA-1 could be carried to their individual sites as separate activities. Only on the longer traverses would some means of attaching them temporarily to the suit be required.

While one of us conducted operations on the surface, the other remaining inside the Challenger obviously would monitor what was going on, following activities on his Cuff Checklist, and assist in any activities less familiar to the EVA crewman. For example, on EVA-1, my deployment of the ALSEP about 100 m away could be followed closely using the monocular through the cabin windows. Similarly, I could advise Cernan on his sampling traverse on EVA-2, based on his verbal descriptions of what he saw. I personally would be comfortable on the long traverses, as working alone in remote areas constituted most of my experience as a field geologist on Earth.

“Could one person deploy the Rover?” is one question that would take some engineering analysis to answer. We probably should have tried this in training. Taking both deployment tapes and walking slowly away from the Challenger or pulling the tapes alternately for short distances might have extracted the Rover successfully from Quad 4. At least it would have been worth a try. If Rover deployment were successful, travel would be less strenuous and faster, voice communications better than through the LM systems only, all sampling gear could be available, Traverse Gravimeter measurements could be made at regular intervals, and the TV would be available for close monitoring of all activities. On the other hand, one-man deployment and configuration of the Rover would take significant time away from exploration activities on one of the EVAs.

In the final analysis, Cernan and I would have made a very strong case for as many one-man EVAs as feasible and would have probably been the deciding votes. Our boss, Deke Slayton, probably would have objected to going any significant distance from the Challenger; however, I think other lunar surface crewmen would have supported us. In fact, the existence of a one-man EVA Checklist proved that concept of doing one-man EVAs had already been accepted so the question would be how far from the LM should we go. Once just outside the cabin, if the EVA crewman got into trouble, there was not much the remaining crewman could do, except offer ideas and advice on how to get out of trouble. How far one traveled, therefore, was just a question of physical endurance and consumables.]

“Gene, we’re off VOX and back to PTT, UPLINK SQUELCH is OFF, and the used up RECORDER is verified OFF.” These items finished up the EVA-3 Prep and Post Cue Card, and we transitioned to the regular Lunar Surface Checklist.

“What’s next, Geno,” I asked.


“Okay, Roberto,” I called, “we’re going to manage the old batteries.”

“Okay, and Challenger we’re ready to manage the ‘old batteries’.”

“The ‘old’ ED batteries are 37.2 [volts]; [both] A and B. …I was just going to say I wish we had a broom.” As Cernan read the standard battery management procedures, I verified that the batteries and their electrical buses looked good. As I went to each sensor position, Hal Loden at the LM CONTROL console could see more detailed information through telemetry.

“Okay, we’re happy with your battery management,” Parker relayed from Thorson. “We’re ready for you guys to go to LO [on TLM PCM].”

“You got LO [on telemetry].”

“Thank you. …And, Challenger, it’s Bob,” Parker continued, sounding wrung out and probably in need of a restroom break. “I’m going to turn you over to Casper about now, and let him put you guys to sleep.”

“Bob, I’m not sure what you mean. Who’s your friendly ghost?”

“I bet you can guess.” Kenneth K. Mattingly, who later went by the nickname “T.K.”, was Ron Evans’ Backup CMP and had been Command Module Pilot on Apollo 16. He had named his spacecraft “Casper” after the popular cartoon character from 1952 to the mid-1990s. Seymour Reit and Joe Oriolo had created Casper, “The Friendly Ghost,” for a 1939 children’s book[26]. Mattingly originally trained as the CMP for Apollo 13, but was removed a few days before that mission launched due to a presumed exposure to measles. He never contracted the disease, but caution had ruled the day. His back-up CMP, the late Jack Swigert, filled in, admirably, during the resulting crisis when an oxygen tank exploded in the Service Module.

“He doesn’t know anything about the LM. He doesn’t know anything about the LM,” I kidded. Ken and I, two of only three bachelors in the astronaut core, had been good friends through this period.

“Gene, we need the URINE LINE circuit breaker on Panel 11 CLOSED and your URINE LINE to HEATER-1 with the HEATER CONTROL switch just below your left arm, I think.”

“It’s never too late to learn,” replied Mattingly to my kidding.

“For you, I’d believe that; for a lot of people, I wouldn’t …Welcome aboard, Ken.” Ken studied spaceflight and his tasks more intently and deeply than anyone in the Astronaut Office. His powers of concentration and limited need for sleep are legendary.

“You guys make a pretty interesting show to watch…”

“I hope so. …All I can do is hear your breathing, Ken.” He had his foot on the mike key on the floor below the Capcom console and we could hear the background noise of the MOCR.

“Yeah. Just noticed that.”

“Okay, Geno, the Checklist says we should clean up the cabin – that’s easier said than done.”

“This dust is something else, and you really have made a mess of things in the back.”

“Not much choice when I was throwing things in you gave me through the hatch. …Anyway, here’s what we should stow on the floor: your OPS goes under the Purse on the DISKEY, …my OPS goes under the hatch Dump Valve, …the ETB goes over here under the AGS, …the ISA against the hatch, I guess on top of my OPS. …and the BSLSS-Rock Bag also goes against the hatch…”

“Getting crowded there against the hatch,” Cernan allowed, “but I guess we will move it all again.”

“Hey, Ken,” I called as we prepared to take our suits off for the rest period. “You can tell your friends off to the left there (the Surgeon’s Console) that I’ve turned the BIOMED OFF.” I am sure they noted that when our biomed telemetry disappeared.

“Okay. Thank you.”

“Okay, Jack, lets empty these urine bladders before we go much farther in getting out of the suits.”

A few minutes later, we had both the bladders empty and Cernan turned off the line heater and pulled its circuit breaker on Panel 11.

“Hello, Houston; Challenger. CDR’s going off the air.” With that notification we began the now routine procedures called out in the Lunar Surface Checklist for Cernan to get out of his suit, clean and lubricate its bearings, and configure it for drying in the back of the cabin.

Before we took our suits off, we took color portraits of each other (Figs. 12.286 and 12.287). These photographs (AS17-145-2223-8) show both how dirty the suits had become after 22 hours of work in the lunar dust and how tired we looked. The effect of reduced gravity on increasing blood volume in our heads shows in the prominent central vein in our foreheads. Nonetheless, our smiles are genuine, reflecting our belief that we had done a pretty damn good job out there.

Fig. 12.285. The author prior to unsuiting after the third and final Extravehicular Activity period of the Apollo 17 mission. (NASA Photo AS17-145-22228).

Fig. 12.286. Cernan prior to unsuiting after the third and final Extravehicular Activity period of the Apollo 17 mission. (NASA Photo AS17-145-22225).

“Hey, Jack; Houston. You busy?” Mattingly did not realize that I was helping Cernan get out of his suit.

“Say again, Ken.”

“Are you busy? I’m sitting here looking at a couple of questions that they wanted to ask. Whenever it’s convenient for you. I’m not sure just how busy you are right now; and just keep in mind I’ve got a few questions to ask you on the traverses, and give me a call when you’re ready to talk about it.”

“Okay; we’re unsuiting, Ken. Let us get unsuited, and then we’ll be back with you.

“Okay. Just whenever it’s convenient for you.”

[During post-jettison activities, we used much of our remaining film to take panoramas of all that we could view out of the Challenger’s windows. The black and white images from the right hand window are AS17-143-21943-60. Those from the left hand window are 21961-82.

Color panoramas from the left hand window are AS17-145-22193-97 (see Fig. 12.261↑) and those from the right hand window are 22198-222 (see Fig. 12.284↑ and anaglyph; Figs. 12.287, 12.288, below.]

Fig. 12.287. A last grand panorama view of the west entrance to Taurus-Littrow Valley showing 3 days of activities both near and far from Challenger. On the horizon from left-to-right are: the northwest corner of the South Massif; West Family Mountain; Family Mountain; and the gracefully upwards sloping rampart of the Lee-Lincoln Scarp meeting the downslope of the North Massif. In the mid-ground are: Geophone Rock; the ALSEP site; and my geology hammer; and numerous LRV tire and foot traffic patterns. The view in the separate window is available here. (Composite of NASA photos AS17-145-22199, -200, -201).

Fig. 12.288. A last view of the American Flag marking Taurus-Littrow Base. A 3D anaglyph is also available here. (NASA photo AS17-145-22220; anaglyph with -22219).

About ten minutes later, Mattingly called again. “Challenger, Houston.”

“Go ahead,” I replied.

“Hey, how about if we hit a PRO[CEED] on the DISKEY and get it into P00 and back into STANDBY? We’re worrying about the clock registers overflowing. And we’d like to get that done before [Ground Elapsed Time of] 172:50, or somewhere in that neighborhood.

“Okay; stand by. … Is that what you wanted?” I asked.

“Oh, we can’t watch it (the keystrokes), Jack. If you just tell us that you’ve got it into P00 and back into P06.”

“That’s what happened. …I thought you watched it the other night.”

“No, we don’t have any high bit rate now.”

“That dooo make a difference. That’s right.”

“I understand that you’ve completed that transition. Is that correct?”

“Which one?”

“You did get it out of STANDBY into P00, and then back. Is that correct?”

“That’s affirm. We completed that.” Someone had not listened to what I said a moment ago. …Sorry to be so unclear.”

“Hey, we also are still [working] on your stowage. So when you get on page 7-6, where it says, ‘Stow Heaviest Collection Bag’, down in the right-hand column towards the bottom, why don’t you skip that step until after the eat period. And we’re still working on the stowage locations.” We were still in the process of getting Cernan’s suit hooked up to the LM oxygen hoses for drying and had not reached that part of the Checklist.

After about 25 minutes, Cernan’s oxygen was finally flowing through his suit and he connected in to the spacecraft communications. “Hello, Ken. How do you read Challenger CDR?”

“Loud and clear.”

“Jack, before you unsuit, where is the Neutron Flux Bag? It goes into the Core Tube Bag at this point in the Checklist.”

“I threw it back behind you when you handed it to me through the hatch. …I see it; let me get it for you.”

I then repeated the steps Cernan had just gone through to get out of my suit and set it up for drying (see post-EVA activity in Chapter 10).

In the middle of this, I realized that it was about time to change out the LiOH CO2 scrubbing canister. “Geno, why don’t you ask about changing out the LiOH canister. We are about an hour late in the Checklist, so it is about due.”

“Houston, Challenger. How would you feel about this [Lie-oh] canister being changed now?”

“Stand by,” said Slayton who was filling in for Mattingly who had joined a group working on how to cut another half hour out of our timeline and get us back on schedule.

“What’s next on the Checklist, Gene?”

“We get out of these LCGs. They go in the Buddy SLSS bag and we stow that bag where the PLSS RCUs were stowed.”

“Where do they want my Bio Belt?”

“On the COMM Panel, apparently. It’s going to be in the way there, but we’ll see. …Remember to put your urine bag somewhere where it will dry.”

“Okay. …Here is your CWG. Boy, that will feel good compared to tubes in the LCG.”

“Jack, when you get your Snoopy cap on, BIOMED goes RIGHT and S-Band VOICE needs to be DOWN VOICE BACKUP.”

“Got it.”

“Now I have to PROCEED [on the DISKEY] and enter a VERB 37 (change program), enter NOUN 06, PROCEED, and the DISKEY light says we are in STANDBY [in P00].”

“Okay; change ‘er (LiOH canister) out,” Slayton said after getting a go-ahead from LM CONTROL. “Geno, …for your information, we’re trying to negotiate some time for you here. We’re about one and a half [hours] down. We know how to pick up one hour of it, but we haven’t quite figured out how to gain the other half [hour].” Slayton had told Mattingly to go prune the list of geology questions people wanted to ask. This was a mistake, but, in fairness, Slayton’s concern was operational not scientific. It is important to ask those questions while the answers were fresh in our minds. We could always gain some time by shortening the eight-hour rest period. We weren’t sleeping that long anyway.

“Okey-doke. Well, we’re all unsuited now, and we’re about ready to talk and eat at the same time, or listen and eat here at the same time. And it won’t be long and we’ll be ready to hit the sack.”

“Okay; fine. Ken’s trying to negotiate the question sessions for you here.”

We now stood in our Constant Ware Garments, basically just some Nomex one-piece pajama-like overalls. Photographs of our appearance and that of the cabin are AS17-134-20520, 23,and 30. Our suits were laid out to dry on the Ascent Engine Cover, with the helmets in their stowage bags back against the rear of the cabin. As we had not yet been given stowage instructions for the sample containers, the stack on the Ascent Engine cover was pretty high.

Fig. 12.289. Our suits and helmets temporarily stowed on the ascent engine cover behind my station. Compare the dirtiness of the suits with the two white stowage bags above my helmet at right. The hatch for entry into the CSM is at the top. (NASA photo AS17-134-20524).

Fig. 12.290. The author in Nomex overalls after unsuiting during post-EVA-3 activities in the LM cabin. Cf. Fig. 12.285↑. (NASA Photo AS17-20530).

“Canister’s changed out, now,” Cernan reported for me, as I had not yet connected to the spacecraft communications.

“Thank you,” replied Mattingly, now back from his negotiations on geology questions.

“Okay, Ken, we’re on [comm] and ready for that debriefing. And you should be getting Jack’s biomed also.”

“Okay. …Before we start on those questions, are you prepared to copy some lift-off times in your data book, and that kind of stuff?”

“Give us about 10 seconds.”

“All right, sir…”

Grabbing my Data Card Book, I said, “Go ahead, Ken.”

“Okay. This is rev 44. Lift-off: 174 plus 13 plus 49. TPI: 177 plus 01 plus 00. Okay; I’ll give you just the [emergency] lift-off times. Excuse me. For rev 45: 176 plus 12 plus 19; 178 plus 10 plus 49; 180 plus 09 plus 20; 182 plus 07 plus 50; 184 plus 06 plus 20. Rev 50 is 186:04:50. Over.”

“Okay, Ken. Starting with 44: 174:13:49; 176:12:19; 178:10:49; 180:09:20; 182:07:50; 184:06:02 (sic); 186:04:50. And what’s the present rev, please?

“Okay; we’re coming up on, …in fact, it looks like we’re in 44 right now, …and, Jack, how about let’s confirm that the rev 49 was 184:06:20.”

“Oh, I did have that wrong, in the seconds? Two zero seconds.” This may have been my only bad read-back on the mission. Glad they caught it.

“That’s affirmative. Okay; and we’ve got your biomed coming through.”

“…Am I alive?”

“Just barely.”

“Ken, I’d like to believe that you read that one wrong, because I’ve gone through 50 copies (revs) on that without a mistake.” From the transcript, it is clear that the mistake was mine.

“Well, I’ll settle that with you when you get back. …All right, sir. And [it] looks like it’s about time for an eat period, and I’ve got these questions for you. But let’s keep in mind that that’s secondary, and if it ever gets in the way of eating, why holler up, and we’ll just drop it right there. We’re about an hour and a half behind the timeline, and we’re going to make up no more than an hour of that.


“Alright, Geno, what do we have in there for our last dinner on the Moon?”

“Well, here’s your packet.”

“Let’s see, there’s a Wet Pack (irradiated) hamburger with mustard and cheese spread, …yum; potato soup; a piece of rye bread, I guess that is for the hamburger for some strange reason; a chocolate bar and banana pudding for desert; and an orange drink, grape drink, and tea to wash it all down with. …What do you have to trade?

“Well, I have the hamburger and stuff, but also some lobster bisque, fruitcake and orange drink.”

“I guess I’ll stick with what I have, except I’ll trade you something for the fruitcake. Also, I will pass on the potassium-laced orange drink. I want to delay John and Charlie’s diarrhea as long as possible.”

“Okayl I take your banana pudding for the fruitcake. Where are the scissors?”

“The scissors must still be in the ETB. I’ll get them.”

“Okay, Ken. We’re cutting into the chow and go ahead.”

“Okay. Would you like for me to just read you all the questions, and let you mull those over before you work on it, or you want to do one at a time?”

“One at a time’s better, Ken,” I answered.

“All right, sir. Number 1: [They] wanted to know if the blue-gray rocks at Station 6 are similar to those at Station 2?”

“Ken, I think they are,” I responded after some thought. “But I think you’ll find that the ones at Station 6 are much more [a] metamorphic rock, or recrystallized rock, than the ones we had at Station 2…I had the impression that the ones (blue-gray rocks) we were sampling at Station 6 were really inclusions in the anorthositic gabbro and had been probably considerably metamorphosed by it being included in it (anorthositic gabbro); whereas, the ones (blue gray rocks) we had at Station 2 were a separate rock type, apparently, as I recall it, anyway.” It should be noted that both in the instance of the “blue-gray rocks” and the “anorthositic gabbro”, I spoke using my field terms for what were impact breccias and melt-breccias of different relative ages.

“Okay; that’s good.”

“Ken, let me just say,” Cernan interjected, “that my impression is that there was a lot more action in the rocks at Station 6 than 2. I saw a lot more…a lot more was evident – the inclusions and some of the patterns [and] some of the other things we saw.” It is not clear what Cernan was referring to by his us of the phrase “a lot more action.” It may be that he was referring to the fact that the melt-breccias appeared more complex with their clasts, vesicles and evidence of a contact between two distinct melt-breccia units.

“All right, sir. Let’s go on to the second one (question), and it said: ‘Do we understand that there were no breccias at Station 8?’ “

“Ken, that [ap]parent orthopyroxene-plagioclase rock was a breccia in the sense [that] it was fractured and was injected by dark glass. But it would be what we would call a ‘mosaic’ breccia; in that respect to seeing ‘breccias,’ I think, and we didn’t see any Station 6- or Station 2-type breccias there [at Station 8] at all. Other than the subfloor gabbro, that orthopyroxene-plagioclase rock was the only major rock type I think we saw, unless we picked up some [others] in the rake sample.”

“Okay; the third one (question) says: ‘What are your impressions of the distribution of the familiar subfloor gabbros throughout the EVA-3 traverse?’ “

Again, after some thought, I answered, “Well, I think we discussed that a little bit on the traverse – quite a bit, as a matter of fact. The impression I had was that [during] most of the traverse on the plains – with the one exception of Van Serg Crater – we were in block fields or fragment fields that were almost, …well, [that] were dominantly subfloor. And, visually from the Rover, I had no impression of any other significant rock type, with the exception of occasional blocks of the gray variety of the subfloor gabbro. I don’t know what Gene’s impression was. He was driving a lot, but…pass it on.”

“I think we actually even commented,” began Cernan, “when we hit the break in slope coming back out of Station 6 and 7, and then coming back down out of 8, how the terrain features changed. I think that was due principally to what we’ve been calling the subfloor material [being] evident. And there again, it was, what I would say, particularly mantled, filleted, much like we have here where the LM is; with the exception of Van Serg, where we actually saw fragmental boulders for the most part – a lot less buried – sitting on the surface.”

“All right, sir. ‘At Van Serg, some rocks were described as gray breccias, and some contained white fragments. Was there a variety of breccias present?’ ”

“I think not, Ken,” I replied, quickly. “My impression was that there was a variety [of breccias] only in the degree to which they were fractured. We found and sampled, I think, the two major [types]. One [was a] extremely fractured rock that I said was ‘friable;’ anyway, it broke into small pieces very easily with a hammer or in your hand, if you worked at it. And the other was a breccia that was much more cohesive than that. It was not fractured or friable at all, but they both were on the rim, and I think they were just varieties, probably, of shock fracturing.”

“Okay. ‘Could the Van Serg breccias correlate with the blue-gray material at Cochise?’ ”

After a pause, I said, “That’s possible, I guess. But my first guess would be that the blue-gray at Cochise was blue-gray subfloor. And…well, I don’t know. That’s a good question. That’s a good question. Maybe with the pictures we have, we can work out an approximate attitude on that contact that I talked about in Cochise, and see if it would project over reasonably to Van Serg. I wouldn’t be surprised if it would. That’s a good point.”

“To me they (blue-gray rocks at Cochise and Van Serg) looked very similar,” added Cernan.

“Okay. And you guys sure you’re eating? Mattingly inquired, almost certainly prodded by Slayton.

“But…But…Ken, Ken, Ken,” I interrupted, having had a new thought.

“Go ahead.”

“Yeah, we’re eating,” Cernan said before I could add to my answer. “We’re fixing and eating at the same time.”

“You’re mighty efficient. Go ahead, [Jack]. You were starting to say something.

“Yeah, Ken. I think [that], from the distance we saw the blue-gray in Cochise, you couldn’t make a definite correlation. But it’s a good idea and ought to be considered as one of the possibilities. The other [possibility] is that we just had a window in the subfloor that coincidentally – I mean (that) one (unit) underneath the subfloor might be that [Van Serg type] breccia – and, coincidentally, the Van Serg impact hit that window.”

[At the time, the unusual nature of the Van Serg breccias had suggested to me that it had hit a “window” in the subfloor lavas that exposed an earlier regolith for excavation. Soon after the mission, I also considered the possibility that Van Serg had impacted the thick combined, overlapping ejecta blankets of Cochise and Shakespeare. As indicated in the earlier discussion about Van Serg (this Chapter, Station 9), however, the analysis of various samples, combined with insights provided by the Moon Mineral Mapper data, now suggest that the “window” may have been regolith on a knob of Imbrium ejecta, comparable to the Sculptured Hills. (Chapter 13). Continued synthesis of the analyses related to Van Serg samples, particularly with data on the ancient solar wind, indicates that some of the material in those samples may be from regolith developed very early in the history of the Moon, after a coherent crust had formed (Chapter 13).]

“Okay. ‘Can you tell us anything about the cow pie at Van Serg? Was it a clast in the breccia?’ ”

“Negative. It was a… Excuse me; I have my mouth full.”

“It’s about time.”

“It was an aggregate of irregular, [what] looked like agglutinated glass in [rounded] fragments just sitting on the rim of Van Serg. And the reason I said I thought it was ‘in place’ or had fallen there and crystallized (cooled) there, is that there were four or five similar fragments arranged in a small coherent area. [I’m] not making that very clear, I don’t think; but it looks as if it hit and broke apart upon hitting a little bit, but [it] didn’t really splatter or break apart in any significant manner.”

“All right.”

“There are similar things… I’ll tell you what it looks like,” I continued, remembering what I had seen on a training trip to Hawaii. If anybody’s walked up the rim of Kilauea Iki – in the ash out there – and on top of the ash, there are bombs that were fairly clearly molten when they hit, and they had just enough strength (firmness) to break when they hit. But the individual pieces didn’t move very far at all. And you can see that pattern on Kilauea Iki. And it was the same kind of thing, except that there was no directional aspect of it here [as seen on Kilauea Iki]. …And that’s not to say it’s volcanic glass. That’s just the kind of pattern it was.”

“Okay. ‘Can you tell us if the darker material in the bottom of Van Serg was similar to the collected rim material?’ ”

“I think so, except – as Gene pointed out – the clasts were coarser…they were coarser in the bottom than about anything we saw in the rim.” This was not a good answer to the question, nor am I sure what the question actually referred to. There is little similarity between the dark-gray breccias with large light colored clasts in the bottom of Van Serg and the very dark breccias with small white clasts on its rim.

“Okay. ‘Are there any distinctive features, other than color, to separate tan from blue-gray breccias, such as jointing, or massive nature, continuity, anything of that nature?’ “ I paused to take a few more bites of dinner.

“Yeah, we’re [eating for a minute],” Cernan said. [Jack,] Where did we find those tan breccias?”

Challenger, this is Bob (Parker). I think we were talking about some of them, I think, at Station 1 the first night. We had both natures [of breccias]. In fact, didn’t we have two of those in the same rock together?

“They were both gabbros.” Here, I was using my field term for the subfloor rocks, based on what appeared to be the mineral compositions of their matrixes.

“Yeah, excuse me…”

“Bob, they were tan gabbros and blue-gray gabbros.”

“Roger. Okay, yesterday… Excuse me, I wasn’t reading the question. Okay, the breccias. There were tan and blue-gray breccias yesterday at Station 2, were there not? You had the two types of breccias at Station 2.”

“Oh well, yeah. Yeah, that’s right. And, now as I think back, I guess that’s the main difference between the tan rocks at Station 2 and Station 6 [is] because the ones at 6 appear to have an igneous texture or at least a very crystalline texture and inclusion-like masses of other rocks. Whereas, the ones at Station 2, they seem to be fragment breccias, as I recall.”

“That’s right,” Cernan agreed.

“Although they may have been recrystallized or metamorphosed,” I added, “they were clearly breccias at Station 2. I just forgot about that.” Here, I think I was referring to Boulders 1 and 3 at Station 2 because Boulder 2 had a much more uniform texture; although it also turned out to be a melt-breccia with numerous small mineral and rock clasts.

“Okay,” Mattingly came back to continue the questions, and said, “Can you amplify your description going out to Station 6? In particular, were there blue-gray and tan-gray bands on the North Massif?”

“Rather than bands, there were lines that appeared to be the upper terminus of the source of the boulders that were strewn below that line. And those lines tended to be either [lines that] show a blue-gray source or a tan-gray source, if you will. …Gene, did you see that dust outside? …Oh, those [trash] bags [may be releasing gas].”

Challenger,” Parker called, “if you think you’re talking to us, you’re breaking up badly.”

“I just thought you might be interested; we just had a little spurt of dust come up by the window.”

“Was there a sleigh with it?” Mattingly quipped.

“Wise guy,” I said.”

“Okay. Did you see very much of dust, or was it just one little shot?”

“One little shot, it was actually just particles. Something we threw out must have popped.

“Okay. ‘Do you have any preliminary stratigraphic sequence for the plains?’ “

“For the plains, huh? …Well, my guess would be that the Van Serg breccias were the oldest rocks. The subfloor gabbro’s the next oldest; and the [subfloor’s] mantling material’s the youngest. But the only good clear relationship was mantle on top of the subfloor gabbros. We really don’t have a good relationship of the [Van Serg] breccias, and I guess I lean towards thinking that Van Serg was a window in the subfloor rather than being a bed of some kind on top of the subfloor.”

[I had not realized at this point that the Van Serg impact hit the ejecta blanket of Shakespeare Crater that, in turn, had ejected material from below the subfloor. That material may be the same material that makes up the Sculptured Hills but in the Shakespeare area makes up the pre-subfloor floor of the valley. The bench I noted in the wall of Van Serg may reflect the base of the Shakespeare ejecta blanket below which could be either subfloor basalt or, more likely due to its light color, Cochise ejecta or Imbrium ejecta that also makes up the Sculptured Hills.]

“Okay, and, ‘Do you have an opinion on what underlies the Sculptured Hills?’

“Well, I think, we said… The rake sample is probably going to have to tell the tale there. My guess is – from the boulders of subfloor around up there that are of [subfloor] gabbro – that maybe the Sculptured Hills are a version of the subfloor rocks. I don’t think that the orthopyroxene anorthosite rock was necessarily indigenous to the Sculptured Hills. It was glass-coated and permeated by glass, so I suspect it may have been thrown there by an impact somewhere else.”

[The Sculptured Hills remained a puzzle to me until recent years when images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera and mineral data from the Moon Mineral Mapper became available (see Chapter 13 and the earlier discussion in this Chapter related to Station 8). As they appear to be the last basin ejecta (Imbrium) to be deposited in the area, the Sculptured Hills lie on previous basin ejecta units, probably that from Serenitatis.]

“All right sir, we’ve got one last thing for you to clean up,” Mattingly said. “Back on page 7-6 of your checklist, it looks like we may have skipped some steps on the [CABIN] GAS RETURN VALVE, and (we’d) like to make sure that you get that to Auto and the [SUIT] GAS DIVERTER [VALVE] pushed to CABIN before you stow the oxygen hoses.”

“How did we miss those two items, twice?” I asked myself, as I took care of Mattingly’s request.

“I think we were looking for the Neutron Flux Bag about then.”

“Okay, Ken, we got CABIN GAS RETURN [VALVE] – AUTO.

“Okay, understand AUTO, and you got the Select to CABIN?

“Yeah, GAS DIVERTER’s pushed to CABIN and we’re drying the PGAs (suits) out.”

“All right, sir…”

“And I guess if you could go in,” Cernan said, going back to a previous question, “my feeling is if you go to the bottom of every one of those large craters like Camelot, and you’d examine some of these fragments on the walls and down into the bottom, I just get a feeling you’d find this blue-gray breccia down there.”

“All right, sir.”

“I mean in all the big craters like Camelot.”

“I think maybe that’s true,” I said, trying not to disagree directly with the Commander, “however, we do not see isolated fragments of it (blue-gray breccia) very often, if at all, out here on the plains themselves, away from the craters. So if the blue-gray breccia, [I mean] the Van Serg breccia – does underlie the subfloor, it’s far enough down that the craters we have apparently have not penetrated and brought up much of that kind of material …Well, that’s it.” I am not sure where Cernan got the idea he expressed here. At Station 5 on the rim and ejecta blanket of Camelot, all we had seen were boulders of subfloor basalt. The Camelot impact had penetrated at least 120 m.

“Okay guys,” Mattingly stated, probably under pressure from Slayton at his elbow, “it’s time to press on and finish up chow time and I’ve got your stowage summaries whenever you’re ready for that, to get started on.”

“Okay, Ken,” I replied, “let us finish eating, then we’ll go back to work.”

“Okay, give me a call when you’re ready.”

“Geno, I’ll tell you, I really like the taste of the food we have in these Army Wet Packs. We should have brought more of them.”

[“Wet Packs” were the early version, and much better version, of MREs, that is, Meals Ready to Eat. Both were irradiated food, intended to last for long periods as the radiation killed all the bacteria and fungus that cause food to spoil. We had Wet Packs of hot dogs, hamburger, peanut butter, and high protein fruitcake, the latter being particularly good in my opinion.]

“Okay, Jack, if you are done eating, lets empty the ETB.”

“I’ll help you. …Checklist says we have seven 70 mm magazines to stow in the Right Hand Stowage Compartment. Hand them over and I will put them in there. …What do I do with the mags that are in there now?

“They go in the bottom Boot Compartment.”

“Okay. What’s next?” I asked.

“The SEP recorder goes in the Top Boot Compartment.”

“Got it.”

“I guess we put the EVA-3 maps with all the other paperwork.”


“Here’s the Cosmic Ray tube. It goes in the ISA top pocket.”


“And my Hasselblad goes in the Camera Compartment. Why is that penciled in,” asked Cernan.

“I want an EVA Hasselblad to take photos of Ron’s spacewalk. Remember, that isn’t in the nominal plan, but he should have pictures.”

“Okay. So the ETB is empty and it goes against the hatch for jettison.”

“What’s next?”

“Cuff Checklists – all six go in the ISA big pocket. There should be two in the Purse and four in the right hand stowage compartment.”

“Okay. I have all six in the big pocket.”

“Now, the Purge Valves go in the Aft Left Hand Stowage Compartment over here behind me.”

“I guess we are ready for their plans for all the sample containers.”

“Okay. Ken,” Cernan called. “I’d like to go ahead and hear your recommendations on stowage, and I’ll write it down.”

“All right, sir. On [Surface Checklist] page 2-2, I’ve got some numbers to fill in at the bottom under the collection bag stowage…”

“Okay, I’ve got it (page 2-2),” Cernan told him.

“Okay, number 1…aft of the Engine Cover – is bag 8. And then the second line (Left Hand Mid-Section) – it’s bag 7. The third line (Left Hand and Right Hand Side Stowage Compartment) – it’s bag 6, left-hand, and 5, right-hand. And the last line (Interim Stowage Assembly) is bag 2 and 4. And you can disregard the max weights.” The maximum weights, 40 to 50 pounds, were all more than we had measured for the various bags.

“Okay, just so we got it straight: Aft Engine Cover, bag 8; left hand side, bag 7. Left hand plus the right-hand side: number 6 left-hand and 5 right. And the ISA (Interim Stowage Assembly) bags 2 and 4.”

“That’s affirmative. …Hey, Jack, the people down here watching things noticed that your SUIT ISOL VALVE is still in DISCONNECT. If you’re trying to dry the suit out, you might check that. It’s your option what you want to do with it.” Mattingly spoke much more diplomatically than Parker would have. I needed this valve in SUIT FLOW in order to circulate dry oxygen through my suit.

“I’m glad somebody is watching things! Thank you.”

“Okay, Jack, here’s bag 8. Can you secure it behind the Aft Engine Cover? …Boy, it will be good to hit the sack, soon.”

“Got bag 8 in place. While I am back here (rear of the cabin) had me 2 and 4 and I will put them in the ISA.”

“Here you go: bags 2 and 4…”

“Now bag 7 in the Mid-Section stowage…” That took care of sample stowage in the rear area of the cabin, so I climbed back over the Ascent Engine Cover and into my side of the cabin. “And if you will hand me bag 5, I will put in my Stowage Compartment over here.”

“Here you go: bag 5…and I have bag 6 in my Stowage Compartment over here.”

“That should do it.”

“Ken we’re in the process of getting all these bags in the proper places, now…”

“I hate to put away a film magazine with unexposed film on it,” I told Cernan. “I going to start a pan through my window and you can finish it up over there.” I was finishing up the stowage of film magazines that had been interrupted by all the sample bag activity.

“Good idea. It will show some of the gear we jettisoned.”

“Yeah, and how disturbed the regolith is around the Challenger.

“Ken, this is Jack. Why don’t you make a note that Mag Bravo (Apollo magazine 134) is empty, with miscellaneous photos since the last report on it? …And, Ken, we’re stowing mag Nancy (Apollo magazine 143) at a reading (a frame count of) 153.”

“Gene, do you know where this Buddy SLSS bag is supposed to go? I don’t see it called out in the Checklist.”

“I guess we can put it on the floor for the time being.”

A while later, Cernan called. “Houston, Challenger.”

“Go ahead, Geno,” answered Mattingly.

“Okay, Ken. All we’ve got left to stow now is the Buddy SLSS bag and that’s in work. And we got all the ETB stuff taken care of. All the other bags are stowed per your recommendation. We’ll be configuring the ECS for sleep and putting up the hammocks here shortly; and as soon as we can get cleaned up personally a little bit, we’ll be in the sack.

“Okay. Sounds great. …Hey, Geno, the guys are looking at that Buddy SLSS bag and suggested you all make sure that you’re going to have room to do the equipment jettison and get the hatch open and all that. They had planned on stowing it the next day.”

“That’s a good thought, Ken. Thank you, Ed. The fact is that probably makes things more convenient. We were going to be smart and get ahead here but, thank you.” (It is not clear who is “Ed”, to whom Cernan refers.)

“ ‘The faster I run, the behinder I get,’ ” Mattingly sympathized.

“Yeah. You keep forgetting these checklists have been exercised a hundred thousand times,” replied Cernan.

“Yeah, we keep remembering that.”

Challenger, Houston. If you’ll just give us a call when you’re ready to sack out,” Mattingly, said, “we won’t bother you. That way we can keep track of what you’re doing, and when you’re about ready to go to bed, and we’ll get you up at an appropriate time.

“Okay, Ken, this is Jack. I guess I have the “duty biomed” tonight, so I’ll give you a call when we’re turning out the lights. …And it won’t be too long.”

“All right. You guys are doing pretty good! You’re almost caught up…”

“Gene, I can’t find any mention of where we should stow our EV gloves. Any ideas.”

“Ask Houston.” Cernan really sounded tired.

“Hey, Ken, working through this thing, we haven’t been able to find instructions for the stowage of the EV gloves. Do your friends back there have any recommendations?”

“Okay, Jack, we can stick those things on the comm panel for now, and then tomorrow on page 7-14, it’s going to have you stow them in the LEVA bags; but, for the time being, if you just stick those up on the panel and set them aside, you’ll use them tomorrow [for the final jettison].”

“Okay, Ken, got you. Yeah. …They’re going to get the inside of the LEVA pretty dirty.”

“Well, from what we’ve seen, Jack,” Mattingly said with a chuckle, “I think everything’s going to be about the same color by the time you get through.”

“Okay, it didn’t bother your [Apollo 16] EVA – did it, Ken – to have a little dust in your helmet?” Evans will use one of our LEVAs on his spacewalk.

“No, no; that’s kind of nice to have.”

“Hey, an experienced fellow like you might have a recommendation on how to get my visor up.”

“Yeah; give it to the CMP…”

“We were just debating down here,” Slayton broke in, “how come you guys threw away those nice clean gloves and kept the dirty ones.”

“I wish you hadn’t asked that, Deke,” I responded. “We were just debating that, too.” Actually, Cernan and I had thought this was the best decision, given the value of the used gloves for later engineering evaluation as well as their historical significance.

“How long are your arms, Jack,” asked Slayton, facetiously.

“You do all sorts of things [on the spur of the moment].”

“Hey, they’re out on the porch as a matter of fact,” Cernan interjected. “That’s (getting them back) not too far fetched…”

“I guess there’s some old friends you just hate to get rid of, Deke,” I added.

“Yeah, that figures. Yeah, you guys have had some real winners there. Don’t change a good thing.” Exactly what we had thought earlier.

“Well, they seemed to do all right for us,” I said. “I guess that’s the way we were halfway thinking, but not thinking very well, as is witnessed in our checklist procedures tonight.”

“Ah, you’re doing outstanding.”

Challenger, Houston. On your comm, your Checklist will call for going to DOWN-VOICE BACKUP. And, tonight, we’d rather just leave it in the NORMAL VOICE. So, if you leave the configuration you have, rather than change it, that would be a good deal for us. “It is not clear what Checklist Mattingly meant, as this step was not in the one we were using.

“Okay, Ken,” I answered, “I only got part of that, I was scrubbing my face here. You want to save the same comm configuration we’ve got right now. Is that correct?

“That’s affirmative.”

“Okay. That’s easy.”

“Okay, Ken. Gene just stowed the EVA antenna.” I said this after putting the 16 mm Sequence Camera back in its bracket on my window frame.

“And I’ll be off comm here just for a few minutes – [that is, off] biomed – but I’ll be back with you when I turn in.” With that, we began the familiar procedures to configure the Environmental Control System for an eight hour rest period, string-up the hammocks, cover the windows, and sleep as much as possible.

“Okay. I may have misled you earlier when I said we weren’t going to lose any time [out of the rest period]. We can get you 8 hours [of rest] up to about 19 [minutes] after the hour. After that, we’re going to have to start rearranging things to get 8 hours.”

“Well, Gene’s almost in his hammock now. And I will be shortly, so I think we’re probably in pretty good shape.”

“Okay, that’s fine. I just…I didn’t want to mislead you.”

“That’s all right, you’ve never misled me before. …Well, let me think about that.”

“I was going to say: you catch on awful slow, if that’s true.”


“Ken, I’m going to take off my headset here,” Cernan said, “and jump into the hammock. What time [are] we getting up Central Time?”

“Well, it’s going to be roughly 45 minutes past the time listed at 182:39. So…are you asking for it in local time?”

“Yeah. My watch is set on Houston time. What time will it be? …Eight hours from when?”

“Be about 12:15 [p.m. Central Standard Time], Geno,” contributed Slayton.

“Okay, that sounds great, Deke. …We’re just cleaning up a few minor things, and we’ll actually probably be asleep in the next 10 to 15 minutes.”

“Okay, sleep good. You had a lovely day. Hope tomorrow’s as good.”

“Sorry to keep… Thank you, boss. Sorry to keep you up so late. But appreciate it very much.”

“We’re enjoying it.”

“Hey, Gene,” said Mattingly, “before you unplug you might…check the SUIT FLOW VALVE. Looks like it’s not flowing, if that’s the configuration you want.”

“Yeah, we’ve got them both flowing,” said Cernan, after I did some checking. And we’ve got good circulation in the cockpit. If it looks good to you down there, we’re in good shape up here.”

“Looks fine. See you later.”

“Okay, we thank you much.”

“You ready for some sleep, Jack?”

“You bet, but it seems strange to sleep through our last few hours on the Moon.”

“We done good, though.”

“Yeah. Wish we could have had that fourth EVA.”

After Cernan climbed into his hammock above me, I finally lay in my own hammock across the front of the cabin. I continued to think through what we had done during three EVAs and what we had not been able to do. Sleep came about an hour later, but first, I slowed my brain by reviewing our accomplishments. We certainly had met most of our exploration objectives, only totally skipping one, that is, Station 10. Clearly, we needed more time at Shorty Crater, but, still, the time we had was used as productively as any before on the Moon.

What would have been the objectives of a fourth EVA? A major choice would have been between concentrations on better sampling of the Sculptured Hills or a return to Shorty Crater combined with further sampling of boulders along the base of the North Massif.

As done so often in the past and in the future, nothing like putting yourself to sleep thinking about unrealizable dreams.



    1. Wolfe, E. W., et al., (1981). The Geologic Investigation of the Taurus-Littrow Valley: Apollo 17 Landing Site, USGS Prof. Paper 1080, Fig. 222, p. 175.

    2. Simmons, G. et al. (1973). Surface Electrical Properties Experiment, Apollo 17. Preliminary Science Report, NASA SP-330, p. 15-1, ALSJ

    3. Also available by Warholsoup100, on Youtube. The music composer and lyricist took their 1929 sheet music hit and used it in the second feature movie ever filmed in color, the 1929 talkie movie, “Goldiggers of Broadway” (see IMDB). Although the film was thought lost, two 35 mm reels were fond in Australia. The recording given here is by Annette Hanshaw, a noted popular jazz singer of the 20’s and 30’s.

    4. Wells, Ronald A (2018). Apollo on the Moon in Perspective, Apogee Books, Burlington, Ont. Canada, Fig. 28, 142.

    5. Readers may recall Tennessee Ernie Ford’s renditon of “Mule Train” from an earlier chapter with “Clippity” instead of “Hippity”. The U.S. Army’s “marching song” has “over dale” in the first line.

    6. Wells, Ronald A (2018). Apollo on the Moon in Perspective, Apogee Books, Burlington, Ont. Canada, Fig. 24, 138.

    7. Wolfe, E. W., et al. (1981). The Geologic Investigation of the Taurus-Littrow Valley: Apollo 17 Landing Site, USGS Prof. Paper 1080, Fig. 236, p.187.

    8. Creel, Ron (2021). “Apollo Rovers Power Consumption Summary”, Lunar Roving Adventures (LUROVA), specific data based on Apollos 15, 16, 17 Flight Evaluation Working Group Reports, in preparation.

    9. Jones, Eric (2002). Reflections from the Top of the LRV TV Camera. In the ALSJ.

    10. Talwani, M., G. Thompson, B. Dent, H.-G. Kahle, and S. Buck (1973).Traverse Gravimeter Experiment, Apollo 17. Preliminary Science Report, NASA SP-330, p. 13-1 to 13-13.

    11. Urbancic, T., R. Ghent, C. L. Johnson, et al. (2017). Subsurface density structure of Taurus-Littrow Valley using Apollo 17 gravity data. JGR Planets, 122, p. 1181-1194.

    12. Kovach, R. L. and J. S. Watkins (1973). Apollo 17 seimic profiling: Probing the lunar crust. Science, 180, p. 1063-1064.ASE

    13. Simmons, G., D. Strangway, P. Annan (1973). Surface Electrical Properties Experiment, Apollo 17 Preliminary Science Report, p. 15-1 to 15-14; Grim, R. E. (2018) New analysis of the Apollo 17 surface electrical properties experiment. Icarus, 314,  389-399.

    14. Fendell, E. (2000). oral history, NASA-JPL.

    15. Grott, M., J. Knollenberg, and C. Krause (2010). Apollo lunar heat flow experiment revisited: A critical reassessment of the in situ thermal conductivity determination. JGR-Planets, 115, https://doi.org/10.1029/2010JE003612.

    16. O’Brian, B. (2012). Apollo measurements of lunar dust amidst geology priorities. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 59, pp. 307-320)

    17. Elphic, R. C., B. Hine, G. T. Delory, J. S. Salute, S. Noble, A. Colaprete, M. Horanyi, and P. Mahaffy (2014). The lunar atmosphere and dust environment Explorer: Initial science results. LPSC 45, Lunar and Planet. Inst. Abst.

    18. Barish, B. C., R. Weiss (1999). LIGO and the detecion of gravitational waves. Physics Today. 52, p. 44.

    19. Apollo Program Summary Report, 1975, JSC-09423, April.

    20. Kawamura, T., N. Kobayashi, S. Tanaka. And P. Lognonné (2015). Lunar Surface Gravimeter as a lunar seismometer: Investigation of a new source of seismic information on the Moon. JGR Planets, https:doi.org/10.1002/2014JE004724.

    21. Again, special thanks to Colin Mackellar for making a clean copy of the hammer throw video to the point where you can actually see the hammer spinning in flight, both against the North Massif and the black sky as backdrops.

    22. Scotti, J. V. (1999). Where on the Moon is Jack Schmitt’s Hammer? in ALSJ

    23. Decades later on May 13, 2017, I based my Commencement Address to the graduating class of the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville on these contigency jumper cables. At the end of the speech, I concluded with: “Our lunar jumper cables are a reminder to always be prepared as circumstances change. Make sure you have “jumper cables” in life’s stowage compartment.” The full address is on this website at this link.

    24. As a reminder of the different font color meanings used in this Diary, black = normal mission activity and commentary; red = anomaly discussions; blue = Earth observations, brown = Lunar Module Challenger discussions; green = Public Affairs Office transcripts or news updates from Mission Control; purple = lunar observations; italics = onboard recorder transcripts (Data Storage Equipment or Command Module DSE and Data Storage Electronics Assembly or Lunar Module DSEA); and turquoise = probable dialog derived from the author’s memory, checklist requirements, or logical inferences.

    25. Schmitt, H. H. (1974). Lunar Mare Color Provinces as Observed on Apollo 17, Geology, 2, 55-56.

    26. A summary description of “Casper, the friendly ghost” and a list of several cartoon examples are available on the Youtube page linked  here.


Copyright © by Harrison H. Schmitt, 2021, All rights reserved.