Apollo 17, 40 years later: 'I treasure the whole mission'
Astronaut Harrison Schmitt, the only geologist to visit, remembers it like it was yesterday
By Mike Wall
updated 2 hours 3 minutes ago
SAN FRANCISCO — The last manned mission to the moon launched 40 years ago today, but astronaut Harrison Schmitt remembers it like it was yesterday.
NASA's Apollo 17 mission blasted off in the early hours of Dec. 7, 1972, carrying Schmitt, Gene Cernan and Ron Evans toward Earth's nearest neighbor. Four days later, Schmitt became the 12th and final person — and the only trained geologist — to set foot on the moon when he and Cernan emerged from their lunar module, Challenger ...
"I treasure the whole mission. Every day had more than one really spectacular event," Schmitt said. "The first day, we saw this nearly full Earth, and I was able to take that picture of Africa — still the most-requested photograph in the NASA archives. And it just went on from that."
Schmitt did identify one Apollo 17 science find as particularly important, however — the discovery of "orange soil," which turned out to be composed of tiny beads of volcanic glass. Recently, researchers spotted trace amounts of water within these beads and others like them brought back to Earth by Apollo astronauts ...