The first phase of man's
active exploration of the Moon came to an end with the Apollo 17
mission. Many questions about lunar science were answered during
the intensive activity of the Apollo missions, but many more remain
to be answered. Some of the unanswered questions will be answered
in the future from data already returned but as yet not fully analyzed,
and some will have to wait for data yet to be returned from instruments
already in place on the lunar surface. Still other questions must
await further exploration.
The basic objective of
the Apollo 17 mission was to sample basin-rim highland material
and adjacent mare material and investigate the geological evolutionary
relationship between these two major units. Commander Eugene Cernan
and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt, also a professional geologist,
engaged in three moon walks for a total of 22 hours and 2 minutes.
The Lunar Rover also experienced its first
lunar fender bender.
Numerous individual investigations
of surface and spatial features have been performed based on the
Apollo 17 crew orbital observations and panoramic and metric camera
photographs. The scope of these investigations has ranged from studies
of the structure of individual craters to studies of the sequences
of mare stratigraphy and mare ridges to studies of the solar corona
and zodiacal light.