• picture
  • picture
  • picture
  • picture
Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)


Air Date: Week of

stream/download this segment as an MP3 file

This week, we have facts about the last men on the moon. Thirty years ago, Apollo 17 left the lunar surface and, so far, no one's gone back.


CURWOOD: Welcome back to Living on Earth. I’m Steve Curwood.

[MUSIC: The Police, “Walking on the Moon” ZENYATTA MONDATTA (A&M, 1990)]

CURWOOD: Thirty years ago this week, Eugene Cernan and Jack Schmitt left the last human footprints on the surface of the moon. The astronauts of Apollo 17 had just completed the sixth moon landing.

The only scientist among the 12 people who have walked on the moon is Jack Schmitt. He is a geologist and, as it turns out, was the right man for the job when he literally stumbled across some strange orange soil. He scooped up samples of the lunar dirt to bring back to earth. At first, NASA thought it might be iron oxidized by water, and water meant there could be life on the moon. But geologists later determined the grit was cooled lava from a volcanic explosion on the moon about three and a half billion years before Schmitt and Cernan paid their visit.

During Apollo 17’s three-day stay the crew set a number of space records. They traveled 21 miles on the lunar surface and collected 242 pounds of moon rocks. But despite the overall success of the Apollo missions, media coverage and public interest in lunar landings was waning. America had already won the space race and at the time ending the war in Vietnam seemed a more pressing national concern. So when they blasted off, Schmitt and Cernan had no idea they might be the last men on the moon

CERNAN (TRANSMISSION FROM MOON): We leave as we came, and God-willing as we shall return, with faith and hope for all mankind. Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17.

CURWOOD: NASA still has no immediate plans to return people to the moon but the space agency is considering it as a training ground for future missions to the planet Mars.
And for this week, that’s the Living on Earth Almanac.



Apollo 17 Audio Library audio clips

Apollo 17 Video Library


Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

P.O. Box 990007
Prudential Station
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Telephone: 1-617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Newsletter [Click here]

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.

Creating positive outcomes for future generations.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Energy Foundation: Serving the public interest by helping to build a strong, clean energy economy.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.

Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth