Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

Apollo 17 Mission Objectives

The final mission in the Apollo lunar exploration program was to gather information on yet another type of geological formation and add to the network of automatic scientific stations. The Taurus-Littrow landing site offered a combination of mountainous highlands and valley lowlands from which to sample surface materials. The Apollo 17 Lunar Surface Experiment Package (ALSEP) had four experiments never before flown, and became the fifth in the lunar surface scientific station network. At that time, data were being relayed to Earth from ALSEPs at the Apollo 12, 14, 15, and 16 landing sites.

The three basic objectives of Apollo 17 were:

  1. To explore and sample the materials and surface features at Taurus-Littrow
  2. To set up and activate experiments on the lunar surface for long-term relay of data
  3. To conduct inflight experiments and photographic tasks

The scientific instrument module (SIM) bay in the service module is the heart of the inflight experiments effort on Apollo 17. The SIM bay contains three experiments never flown before in addition to high-resolution and mapping cameras for photographing and measuring properties of the lunar surface and the enviroment around the Moon.

The range of exploration and geological investigations made by Cernan and Schmitt at Taurus-Littrow was extended by the electric-powered lunar roving vehicle. Cernan and Schmitt conducted three seven-hour EVAs.

Apollo 17 would spend an additional two days in lunar orbit after the landing crew returned from the surface. This period was spent in conducting orbital science experiments and expanding the fund of high-resolution photography of the Moon's surface.

From Apollo 17 Press Kit.