Humans haven’t set foot on the moon in 50 years. That may soon change

Excerpt from the December 23, 1972 issue of Science News

Apollo astronaut Harrison “Jack” Schmitt collects moon samples

Apollo astronaut Harrison “Jack” Schmitt, the only scientist to walk on the moon, collects samples during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. NASA’s new Artemis mission aims to return humans to the moon in 2024.


A perfect ending for the final ApolloScience News, December 23, 1972

Project Apollo ended this week. The last moon men … returned to Earth … and splashed down on a target in the Pacific Dec. 19.… All of the surface and orbital instruments appear to be working with the exception of the surface gravimeter.… The geology investigation team summed it up this way: “Apollo 17 will be remembered as the most scientifically sophisticated, not as the last, manned lunar landing.”


The Apollo missions continue adding to our knowledge of the moon and Earth. Scientists have used lunar soil samples collected by Apollo astronauts to show that growing plants on the moon, while challenging, may be possible (SN: 7/2/22, p. 4). In May, NASA researchers began scrutinizing untouched lunar rock and soil samples from the Apollo 17 mission for hints of past moon conditions and the chemicals crucial for life. Then in November, a new era of moon missions dawned with the launch of NASA’s Artemis I mission. NASA hopes to land humans on the moon in 2025 to pick up where Apollo 17 astronauts left off.

James Riordon is a freelance science writer and coauthor of the book Ghost Particle – In Search of the Elusive and Mysterious Neutrino.

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