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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Apollo 17 View of Earth
Just hours after its liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the crew of Apollo 17 found themselves aligned withEarth and the Sun, enabling them to take this full disk view of Earth. The astronauts were coasting towards the Moon, approximately 40,000 kilometers from Earth, when this picture was taken. Becausethe mission took place during the beginning of the summer in the Southern Hemisphere, the Southern Hemisphere is brightly Iit by the Sun. The entire continent of Africa, much of the ice-locked continentof Antarctica, and small portions of Europe and the Asian mainland are visible in this photograph. Tawny colored land masses on Africa are the Sahara, Libyan, and Arabian deserts. The dark bandacross Africa is the grasscovered savannah and the areas covered most y wilh broken clouds are the tropical rain forests. To the east of Africa is the island of Madagascar. Extensive weather systems ofswirling clouds generated in Earth’s atmosphere are visible from space Apollo 17 lifted off at 12:33 a.m. on December 7, 1972. It was the last of the Apollo expeditions to the Moon. Onboard wereastronauts Eugene A. Cernan (commander), Ronald E. Evans (pilot), and Harrison H. Schmitt (lunar module pilot). Three days later, their twin spacecraft, the America (command and service modules) and theChallenger (lunar lander), entered lunar orbit. Twenty-three hours later, Challenger with Cernan and Schmitt onboard, touched down on the lunar surface in the Taurus-Littrow region. Over the next threedays, Cernan and Schmitt explored the lunar surface, deployed experiments, and collected 115 kilograms of lunar rock and soil to return to Earth for analysis and study. Following a three-day returnvoyage, the crew rode America back into Earth s atmosphere and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean.

For the Classroom 1. How big did Earth appear to the Apollo 17 crewmembers when this picture was...
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