The Last Man on the Moon — So Far

Eugene Cernan drives the Lunar Rover on December 11, 1972. (NASA photo via Wikimedia Commons)

On this date in 1972, Eugene Cernan became the last man to walk on the moon.

Here are some things you may not have known about Apollo 17.

Apollo 17 was the first mission to be commanded by someone who was not a test pilot. Gene Cernan was a fighter pilot in the navy, and had more than 200 aircraft carrier landings. He served as pilot on Gemini 9A and lunar module pilot on Apollo 10, which was the dress rehearsal for the first moon landing.

Cernan was joined on Apollo 17 by fellow naval aviator Ron Evans and Jack Schmitt, who was the first, and so far only, professional scientist to fly beyond low Earth orbit.

The mission was classified as a “J” mission by NASA, meaning the crew would spend three days on the lunar surface, conducting several scientific excursions and using the Lunar Rover. During the mission, Cernan and Schmitt logged about 22 miles in the Lunar Rover and Cernan set a lunar land speed record of 11.2 miles per hour. The duo spent a total of 22 hours outside the lunar lander on the surface. Their first extra-vehicular activity was three times longer than the total amount of time Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin spent on the surface during Apollo 11. They collected almost 250 pounds of samples from the moon.

On December 14, Cernan stepped off the moon as he and Schmitt rejoined Evans in the command module orbiting above.

Five days later, the command module returned to Earth, splashing down in the South Pacific near American Samoa. The astronauts were recovered by the USS Ticonderoga and were safely aboard 52 minutes after landing.

Our question: The first and last men on the moon earned degrees from what university?

Today is unofficially World Monkey Day and National Bouillabaisse Day.

It’s the birthday of Great Britain’s George VI, who was born in 1895; author Shirley Jackson, who was born in 1916; and actress Patty Duke, who was born in 1946.

This week in 1972, the top song in the U.S. was “Me and Mrs. Jones” by Billy Paul.

The No. 1 movie was “Lady Sings the Blues,” while the novel “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” by Richard Bach topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.

Weekly question

What wireless technology was named after a Danish king’s nickname?


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