A good rundown of the lunar science experiments carried aboard America during Apollo 17's time in lunar orbit can be found at the website of the Lunar and Planetary Institute. The orbital experiments were predominately contained in the Scientific Instrumentation Module (SIM) contained in the Service Module of the CSM spacecraft. A SIM was also included on both Apollo 15 and Apollo 16.
As Apollo 17 was going to be the last manned mission to the Moon for some time (little was it known then for how long) the astronauts spent more time in lunar orbit - over six days - than any other Apollo mission.
|Good view of America's SIM package, taken from LM Challenger|
About 21 hours later, the crew had one last risky task to accomplish before their harrowing and fiery plunge back into Earth's atmosphere - a deep space EVA. The cameras and instruments back in the Service Module's SIM bay had to have their data retrieved, and it was up to Command Module Pilot Ron Evans to spacewalk back there and get them. All three astronauts suited up, depressurized America, and got to work at 3:27PM on December 17..
LMP Jack Schmitt stood up in America's open hatch to manage the umbilicals for Evans. CDR Gene Cernan remained inside America at the controls.
Note the EVA handrails in the pictures that Evans used to stabilize himself. The spacewalk was a complete success, and lasted slightly more than an hour.
Flight day 11, December 18, 1972 (forty years ago today) was an uneventful one during the trans-Earth coast. Beyond normal spacecraft housekeeping, the last men to voyage to the Moon didn't have anything to do.
Please return tomorrow to mark the anniversary of the last lunar voyagers' return to their home, and for my commentary on the meaning of Apollo.