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Christmas Gift Guide

Alan Bean

S-band antenna

Surveyor 3

Swigert and hoses

Jury-rigged mail box

Alan Shepard

Experiments package

Edgar Mitchell

Lunar rover

David Scott and rover

James Irwin and rover

Hadley Delta

Digging in

Mission Control


Plain of Descartes

Plum Crater

Lunar leap


Big rock

South Massif

Stripped-down rover

Eugene Cernan


Lunar liftoff


Command module

The most famous of NASA's Apollo missions is rightly Apollo 11's journey to the moon in July 1969, when for the first time humans visited a heavenly body other than Earth. But that wasn't the end of it. Over the next three and a half years, there would be five more moon landings. In total, 12 astronauts walked--or drove--across lunar terrain. (And there were also six astronauts, one for each mission, who remained in lunar orbit while the landing crew was away.)

The second lunar landing was that of Apollo 12 in November 1969. In this photo, lunar module pilot Alan Bean carries scientific gear to be set up about 300 feet from the spacecraft, kicking up moon dust as he goes. Also in the background is the crew's S-band antenna.

Caption by / Photo by NASA
Here's a closer look at the lunar module and the S-band antenna, with Apollo 12 mission commander Charles Conrad standing at the Module Equipment Stowage Assembly. The landing site for this mission was the Ocean of Storms. Bean and Conrad did two moon walks for a total extravehicular activity time of 7 hours, 45 minutes (compared with 2 hours, 30 minutes for Apollo 11).
Caption by / Photo by NASA
Unmanned spacecraft made it to the moon before astronauts did. The contraption in foreground is the Surveyor 3, which arrived in April 1967. The Apollo 12 lunar module, in the background here, is about 600 feet away, and that's Conrad standing beside Surveyor, preparing to detach its television camera (along with several other pieces) to take back to Earth.
Caption by / Photo by NASA
Beset by an accident a little over two days and 200,000 miles after liftoff in April 1970, the Apollo 13 crew was unable to make a moon landing. An oxygen tank blew up in the service module, crippling a number of critical life support system, destabilizing the navigation system, and putting the three-man crew at great risk. Here, John Swigert, the pilot of the command module, and another astronaut handle hoses that were part of the jury-rigged setup put into place to keep things going.
Caption by / Photo by NASA
This view of the Apollo 13 spacecraft shows the jury-rigged "mail box" that the crew built (with guidance from Mission Control) to help scrub carbon dioxide from the lunar module, where the astronauts took up residence as air pressure dropped in the service module. Eventually they crowded into to the command module and were able to return home safely, after swinging around the moon.
Caption by / Photo by NASA
The next voyage to the moon was that of Apollo 14 some nine months later: Apollo 14's Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell landed on the moon on February 5, 1971. Shepard, the mission commander, here stands beside the Modularized Equipment Transporter, a cart designed to help the astronauts move gear about the surface. Shepard also famously hit a golf ball while on the moon.
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This is the central station of the lunar surface experiments package. Apollo 14 landed in the moon's Fra Mauro area.
Caption by / Photo by NASA
Mitchell, the pilot of Apollo 14's lunar module, consults a map as he traverses the surface. The two moon walks of this mission totaled 9 hours, 21 minutes.
Caption by / Photo by NASA
The Apollo 15 mission in late July and early August of 1971 introduced a distinctive new piece of equipment--the lunar rover. It may look like a jalopy, but it didn't come cheap--the sticker price was about $40 million.
Caption by / Photo by NASA
David Scott, Apollo 15's commander, gets behind the wheel of the rover, known formally as the Lunar Roving Vehicle, which could hit a top speed of 10 miles per hour.
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James Irwin, the lunar module pilot, gets ready for a driving test. The hill in the background is Mount Hadley, a key feature of the Hadley-Apennine region that was the landing site for Apollo 15.
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With tongs in his left hand and a 70mm camera in his right, Scott stands on Hadley Delta. Just over 10 miles behind him in this picture is the base of the Apennine Mountains.
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Irwin uses a scoop to make a trench in the lunar soil during one of Apollo 15's three moon walks, which added up to about 18 hours of extravehicular activity on the surface. The base of Mount Hadley to the rear isn't as close as it looks--it's a bit over 8 miles away.
Caption by / Photo by NASA
At the Mission Control Center in Houston, astronauts (from left to right) Joseph Allen, Richard Gordon, and Deke Slayton converse while keeping tabs on Apollo 15 activities.
Caption by / Photo by NASA
After Irwin and Scott returned from the surface to lunar orbit, command module pilot Alfred Worden takes a spacewalk to inspect instruments and to retrieve film cassettes from the service module's panoramic camera and mapping camera. This image is a frame of motion picture film from the 16mm Maurer camera mounted in the command module's hatch.
Caption by / Photo by NASA
The next-to-last Apollo mission took place in April 1972, with Apollo 16 landing on the moon's Plain of Descartes. Mission commander John Young can be seen directly behind the lunar rover.
Caption by / Photo by NASA
Young collects samples at the edge of Plum Crater, which is about 40 meters in diameter and about 10 meters deep. The object on the boulder at center is a gnomon, used as a photographic reference point.
Caption by / Photo by NASA
In this image, from a transmission via the color television camera on the lunar rover, Young shows his jumping ability on the moon, where the gravity is notably less than that on Earth. The other astronaut in the picture is Charles Duke, the lunar module pilot.
Caption by / Photo by NASA
These are some elements of Apollo 16's Lunar Surface Experiments Package, or ALSEP. In the foreground is Passive Seismic Experiment (PSE) is in the foreground center, and behind that is the Central Station. To the left of the Central Station is the Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator, and to the right is one of the anchor flags for the Active Seismic Experiment.
Caption by / Photo by NASA
Duke does some digging. The astronauts, who spent a total of about 20 hours over three moon walks, speculated that the large rock seen here had at some point broken off from the much larger "House Rock" out of sight just to the right.
Caption by / Photo by NASA
And then we come to the end. Though NASA had plans for missions up through Apollo 20, the final trip to the surface of the moon was undertaken by the crew of Apollo 17. That trip was also notable for the presence of a scientist in the trio, geologist Harrison Schmitt, who also served as the pilot of the lunar module. Seen here in this picture with the lunar rover is the commander, Eugene Cernan. In the background is the South Massif.
Caption by / Photo by NASA
With Cernan at the helm, this is what the rover looks like before it gets loaded down with gear--television assembly, communications relay unit, high-gain and low-gain antennas, aft tool pallet, and so on. (Once again, the South Massif is in the background.)
Caption by / Photo by NASA
Exploring the moon can be dirty and tiring work, as Cernan's spacesuit and facial expression show. Cernan and Schmitt conducted three moon walks for a total of just over 22 hours. The Apollo 17 mission took place in December 1972, and its landing site was the Taurus-Littrow region.
Caption by / Photo by NASA
The gnomon on the rock in the foreground shows a spot of color in an otherwise mostly monochrome landscape. Its color scale--blue, orange, and green--is used to accurately determine color for photography. NASA describes the gear further: "The gnomon is a stadia rod mounted on a tripod, and serves as an indicator of the gravitational vector and provides accurate vertical reference and calibrated length for determining size and position of objects in near-field photographs."

Schmitt is the astronaut using a scoop to pick up samples from the lunar surface.

Caption by / Photo by NASA
This image, captured from a transmission by the color RCA TV camera mounted on the lunar rover, shows the ascent stage of the Apollo 17 lunar module lifting off from the moon's surface.
Caption by / Photo by NASA
The command and service module spacecraft awaits the imminent docking of the lunar module as it returns from the moon. Gear in the exposed Scientific Instrument Module Bay includes the lunar sounder, the infrared scanning spectrometer, and the far-ultraviolet spectrometer, along with the panoramic camera, mapping camera, and laser altimeter.
Caption by / Photo by NASA
Here's a head-on look at the command module during docking.
Caption by / Photo by NASA
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