Apollo 17 in orbit

Most Apollo missions only began their photographic record once they had left Earth orbit. Apollo 11 and 17 are the exceptions, but while Apollo 11 took a small number focused mainly on a hurricane off Central America, Apollo 17 used its time in Earth Parking Orbit (EPO) to take many photographs of the landscape below them before the TLI burn that took them to Taurus-Littrow.

While the location of some of the images are known, many of them are listed simply as ‘Earth,Ocean, Clouds’, and when you’re locked down with not much else to do, what else can you do but try and see if you can put some more detail into what is already known. The question, therefore, that this page will try and answer is “Can we work out where, and when’, these images were taken?”.  To do this we have a number of tools at our disposal, namely the known EPO track of the orbiting Saturn IVB stack, the weather satellite record, the mission transcripts, and the famous ‘Blue Marble’ image (as well as others taken after Trans-Lunar Injection, or TLI) that shows the broader context of the daylight illuminated planet below them.

Let’s begin at the beginning.

Apollo 17 launched at 05:33 on December 7th 1972, a couple of hours behind schedule after two unscheduled hour long delays thanks to technical issues. They inserted into Earth orbit at 05:44, commencing the TLI burn procedures 3 hours later after two successful EPO passes. Figure 4.12.1 shows the charts with the orbital trajectories on them.

Figure 4.12.1: Earth Orbit charts (also known as APO charts). The one on the left is from this book, the other two from copies sold at auction (hence the autograph).

NB: The December 6th date refers to what would have been the date in the USA had the mission taken off on time.

Figure 4.12.2: Daylight portions of the Earth at Earth Orbit Insertion (top) and Trans-Lunar Injection (bottom).

Figure 4.12.3 shows the relevant satellite image view of the Earth on the 7th.

Figure 4.12.2 shows which parts of the Earth were in daylight at those times.

The scene is set, the task now is to look at the orbital images and place them on the map

The first shots are pretty easy as their locations are already known. AS17-148-22607,22608 and 22609 are in North Australia - two from the coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria, the other on the eastern shore of the Cape York Peninsula in northern Queensland (figure 4.12.5).

Figure 4.12.4: AS17-148-22725 in full and close up showing the area covered by Apollo 17.

Figure 4.12.4 shows the famous Blue Marble shot in its original uncropped form and cropped to show the area covered by the EPO trajectory. Other images taken after TLI show these areas in greater detail and were taken nearer in time to the orbital phase. For the most part, the links provided will be to the Project Apollo Flickr account, but more detailed images from this site will also be used.

Figure 4.12.3: NOAA-2 satellite data from 07/12/72, both from the original document (left) and the digitally restored version (above).

Figure 4.12.5: AS17-148-22607 (left) 22608 (centre) and 22609 (right).

Photos 22607 and 22608 are obviously of the same place, so let’s deal with those first. The Gulf of Carpenteria is the area between the two ‘prongs’ on the north Australian coast, and if you refer back to the EPO charts you’ll see it is clearly covered by the flight path. The photos were taken around an hour into the flight, as at 59 minutes we have this comment:

000:58:03 Cernan: Okay, we're looking at the deserts of Australia right now

At this point communications were being routed through Honeysuckle Creek, as noted by the PAO (Public Affairs Office). This page shows the times of Honeysuckle Creek’s involvement. In terms of where we are looking, the photographs are pretty much oriented in the direction of travel, and we can confirm their location by looking at Google Earth (see figure 4.12.6).

Figure 4.12.6: Google Earth (top row) and sections of AS17-148-22607 (bottom row).

Coordinates are 17°19'6.28"S 134°27'23.18"E for the left and  15°51'47.01"S 136°33'48.65"E for the right.

The final photograph in the trilogy is looking almost vertically downwards, and we have confirmation of the time in this exchange:

001:00:33 Evans (onboard): Oh, look at the coral reef there, Geno.

               Cernan (onboard): Yes.

              Evans (onboard): Look at it; that's coral.

              Evans (onboard): Fantastic, Coral atolls.

The coral reef they are discussing is the Great Barrier Reef, and figure 4.12.7 shows a detail from the image compared with Google Earth.

Figure 4.12.7: AS17-148-22609 detail (left) compared with Google Earth (right). Coordinates  13°45'32.02"S 143°50'48.50"E

The next sequence of photographs presents a more difficult challenge, in that there are no definite visual clues as to where they are. Figure 4.12.8 shows the triptych.

Figure 4.12.8: AS17-148-22610 (left), AS17-148-22611 (centre) and AS17-148-22612 (right)

We’re clearly looking at quite an impressive cloud feature, and at 1 hour 9 minutes we have the following:

001:08:56 Schmitt (onboard): There are some pretty lively looking clouds down there.

               Evans (onboard): Yes. Yes, yes.

               Schmitt (onboard): Better than [garble].

               Evans (onboard): Are we going right around the equator, must be.

               Cernan (onboard): Yes, we're - we're northwest of Samoa.

               Evans (onboard): [Garble] we went on a 91-degree [garble].

               Schmitt (onboard): There's a good-looking cloud for you; look at that one.

               Evans (onboard): Yes.

               Schmitt (onboard): Boy, you could snap a picture of that. [Chuckle.] I forget I got the darn camera.

               Schmitt (onboard): [Garble] be underexposed.

               Cernan (onboard): I can get that, Jack; give me that.

               Schmitt (onboard): I got it.

So, it sounds very like they are talking about this set of photographs.

As it happens there is quite a lively set of clouds along their flight path, shown below in figure 4.12.9.

Figure 4.12.9: Terminator position from here and the satellite image from launch day.

The position of the terminator shows that this lively looking cloud is pretty much on the terminator, and Schmitt (the crew’s resident meteorologist as well as geologist) does point out that:

 “In fact, it's a little low-pressure area, see it?”

shortly after the exchange given above.

That storm is approximately 1300 miles from the previous photograph, which must have been taken at about the point the crew were referring to seeing coral atolls. The speed recorded for them at this point is 17443 mph, or 290 miles a minute. The low pressure system identified on the satellite map is roughly 1550-1600 miles from the location of the previous photograph, so would have been taken at the most 6 minutes later.

Unfortunately there are no precise timings available for the Command Module audio transcriptions, and a lot depends on exactly how much time elapsed between seeing the coral reefs and them passing over them for the photograph.

That said, we know that around this time the crew experiences sunset, so it can’t be much further along their orbit, and the time gap between the two sets of photographs is about right. The tropical storm east of Papua therefore seems like a reasonable suggestion for the location of these three photographs.

The next image in the magazine (Figure 4.12.10) has very little to help us, and neither does the transcript).

It’s pretty obvious that we are looking at either a sunrise or a sunset, and not one of the many references we get to an airglow or other lights on the horizon, eg:

001:33:47 Schmitt: Okay, I think we got the Gulf Coast showing up now by the band of lights, Bob.

We know from our maps that sunrise actually occurs over the mid-Atlantic. While they would see that sun approaching from some distance thanks to their elevated viewpoint, it would still be a while after that remark before it appeared.

There are quite a few exchanges once they cross the California coast that indicate that the cameras have been put down, or away, or misplaced - for example, some time around 001:23:00:

Schmitt (onboard): Guess what I've lost?

Cernan (onboard): What?

Schmitt (onboard): Camera.

The crew were also quite busy as the cross the USA with the various check-out procedures they needed to complete before TLI, but despite that the only possible angle they can use to take the photograph is forwards, so it must be of the approaching sunrise.

We can be a little more definite about the next sequence of images, given that they start with an obvious only just daylight area of ocean and end, quite definitely, in the African coastline (more about this later).

The first three in the sequence are shown in figure 4.12.11.

Figure 4.12.10: AS17-148-22613

Figure 4.12.11: AS17-148-22614 (left), AS17-148-22615 (centre) and AS17-148-22616 (right)

We can tell that these are sunrise images mostly from the slightly darker left hand edge of the first two photographs, but mostly from the hugely elongated shadows of the clouds nearer the horizon (see figure 4.12.12).

Figure 4.12.12: Contrasted adjusted sections of AS17-148-22615 (above) and AS17-148-22616 (left) showing elongated shadows at sunrise.

We also have a couple of references in the transcript that allow us to position the photographs. Here we have Schmitt giving us a precise reference point:

001:38:43 Schmitt: Looks like we're right over the Bahamas now, Bob.

Which at this point would still be darkness. We then have the crew losing direct communications with Houston, transferring first to the airborne ARIA system and then Ascension island at 001:51.

17 minutes later we have:

001:55:26 Schmitt: Okay, Bob. We had - as usual - up here [laughter] a spectacular sunrise

Figure 4.12.13 shows the relative position of the terminator and the location, and receiving capability, of the Ascension Island tracking station.

Figure 4.12.13: Terminator position (above) and the location and receiving capability of Ascension Island tracking station (Source).

The evidence of these two maps should put us fairly and squarely between South America and Africa.

We also have the following descriptions by Schmitt

001:56:20 Schmitt: Bob, we're over - what might be - intermediate to low stratus that have a very strong crenulation pattern


001:56:38 Schmitt: Looks like about a north-south lineation with a very strong crinkling, roughly east-west.

which seem to match what he’s describing.

For the third image in this sequence we can bring in a view from one of the post-TLI images. It’s obviously looking towards the rising sun, and when the contrast and brightness are enhanced we can see north-south trending lines of clouds, with some decent looking thunderheads casting long shadows and a decent sized cloud mass in the north. If we compare that view with that from AS17-148-22680 (figure 4.12.14) we can find an area over near the horizon, just after where the terminator would be and south of Saharan Africa. In just the right spot, in other words.    

Figure 4.12.14: AS148-22680 with a section highlighted (right) matching AS17-148-22616.

The green arrow gives a rough approximation of the EPO flight path, and this is a great help in identifying the location of the next two images.

Finding the location of these two (AS17-148-22617 and AS17-148-22618) requires a little detective work, and being able to locate a later photograph more precisely. That later image is the next in the sequence, AS17-148-22619, which is shown below in figure 4.12.15.

Figure 4.12.15: AS17-148-22680 (left), AS17-148-22619 (centre) and the same area in AS17-148-22680 (right)

The picture shows an area of thicker cloud viewed looking down and slightly across.The EPO photograph has an area in the post-TLI that very closely matches it that just happens to be right below where Apollo 17 was passing. It’s not an exact match, but why would it be given that the two photographs were taken a couple of hours apart?!

We also have an excellent description of what we’re seeing in the transcript, with Schmitt saying:

001:58:26 Schmitt: Well, I certainly am, Bob, and - again there's a big - a fairly continuous intermediate cloud deck, I think. And it has patterns comparable to what I've seen on pictures of ice floes.

001:58:40 Overmyer: Roger. Understand.

001:58:40 Schmitt: And - of pack ice; I should say pictures of pack ice in the Antarctic.

An extremely accurate description! Schmitt also waxes lyrical on his website about the view:

“New patterns suddenly jump into view. Over the South Atlantic, between Africa and South America, a solid layer of morning clouds lies crenulated from one horizon to the other like an old washboard. Jagged breaks in those wrinkled strata give the illusion of polar pack ice fracturing and moving apart.”

We now know where this image was taken, and we know what sort of area we need to be looking at, can this help us track down the images taken between sunrise and this one?

Well, we know the trajectory of the EPO, and we also know where Apollo 17 passes over Africa, which allows us to plot which parts of the Atlantic they crossed on the way to that point (figure 4.12.16). The size of the area covered in figure 4.12.15 also helps us determine the size of the search area. With that in mind, let’s see if we can narrow things down to specific areas.

Figure 4.2.16: Approximate EPO trajectory of Apollo 17

The arrow above is approximate, it should bend downwards slightly to allow for the Earth’s curve, but you get the idea. With that in mind, figure 4.2.17 shows what I believe AS17-148-22617 and AS17-148-22618 are looking at.

Figure 4.12.17: AS17-148-22617 (left), AS17-148-22618 (centre) and their locations on AS17-148-22680 (right)

In the figure above the green box shows the cloud bank in 22617, yellow 22618, and the red box is a reminder of the location of AS17-148-22619. The arrows show the approximate viewing angle. The EPO path is running roughly diagonally from just below top left to just above bottom right.

It is a guess, but it’s an informed one based on what we know about where the Apollo craft was as well as examining things like the shadows on and under clouds and the angle of view to determine the photograph’s orientation and the striations in the thin cloud banks that can also be seen in the post-TLI image.

Finding the location of the next image isn’t too difficult, as the information you need is also in the one we’ve just looked at. Figure 4.12.18 shows AS17-148-22621 and compares it with an area visible in AS17-148-22620.

Figure 4.12.18: AS17-148-22620 (left), its location on AS17-148-22619 and suggested location on AS17-148-22682.

Can we be sure we’ve got the correct place? Nothing is ever certain but if we look closely at the image we can see that its right hand edge there is much more open water, and the gaps between cloud masses are becoming wider. To the north we have a boundary of thinner cloud, and this seems to be what we have around the area I’ve outlined. I think we can be reasonably confident that we have located another photograph in this sequence.

The next one is again looking towards the east, and we can help in our identification process by stretching the area at the eastern limb to make it look more like the view from above (see figure 4.12.19).

Figure 4.12.19: AS17-148-22621 above) compared with a section of AS17-148-22679 (above right), and with a section elongated to compensate for curvature (right).

Again, allowing for a couple of hour’s time to elapse and changes in perspective we have a very good match for the location of this final trans-oceanic image. Once this photograph is out of the way we start to get recognisable features as the mission hits the African coast. Figure 4.12.20 shows the collection of coastal images.

Figure 4.12.20: (top row left to right) AS17-148-22622, AS17-148-22623, AS17-148-22624, AS17-148-22625. Bottom row: merged image of those on the top row (left) Google Earth with superimposed AS17-148-22626 (centre), AS17-148-22626 (centre right), Section of satellite image (bottom right).

There isn’t much we can add here as it’s pretty obvious that Apollo 17 took these images as they passed over the coast at the Angola-Namibia border, taking some great shots of Baia dos Tigres on the way.

After crossing into African airspace they continue to take photographs, some looking almost straight down, others at an oblique angle, mostly looking towards the north or in the direction of travel. Figure 4.12.21 shows the location of those photographs, with the approximate centre point of oblique images shown by the yellow markers.

Figure 4.12.21: Location of Apollo 17’s trans-African photography

There’s not much to say about these as it’s pretty obvious that the mission is following the well defined EPO path across Africa just as the charts show, but what we can do is show what the oblique images are looking at (figure 4.12.22a-d).

Figure 4.12.22a: AS17-148-22627 and AS17-148-22628 looking at the Etosha Pan (left) and Bicuar & Mupa national parks (right)

Figure 4.12.22b: AS17-148-22629-30 to AS17-148-22633-35 over the Okavango Delta and surrounds

There isn’t any kind of commentary recorded while crossing Africa, but we do have an exchange when they establish contact with Carnarvon later:

02:28:32 Schmitt: Okay. You've got Omni Charlie. And, Bob, we had almost a completely weather-free pass over Africa and Madagascar. And the scenery - both aesthetically and geologically - was something like I've never seen before, for sure.

002:28:56 Overmyer: Roger.

002:28:59 Schmitt: We got odds and ends on the tape and quite a bit on the film.

002:29:04 Overmyer: Roger; good show. Are you saying that you didn't have any weather over that southern Africa there?

002:29:10 Schmitt: Not very much. Barely broken clouds in some places. Most of the countryside was clear.

The description is undoubtedly accurate and entirely borne out by the satellite record, both in general terms as shown by the NOAA-2 record and in detail by the Landsat tile It’s worth pointing out here that the satellite image used there is actually dated the 6th, not the 7th, but thanks to the way the mosaics are constructed the time recorded for the pass for Africa is nearer to the mission photographs than the one dated the 7th.

The next stop for our planetary photographs is Madagascar (figure 4.12.24).

Figure 4.12.22c: AS17-148-22636 - AS17-148-22640 showing the Ntwetwe and Sua pans (left) and the Botswana, Zimbabwe and South African border area on the way to the Mozambique coastal port of Maputo (below)

Figure 4.12.22d: AS17-148-22641 - AS17-22645 showing the Limpopo river and Mozambique coast

And finally, having traversed Africa, here for comparison is the view of the continent after TLI, and of the area close to Maputo harbour as shown in AS17-148-22640 in figure 4.12.22c (figure 4.12.23).

Figure 4.12.23: Section of post-TLI view of Africa in AS17-148-22701, the NOAA-2 satellite image for the area (immediate right) and a Landsat tile from the same day covering the area west of Maputo (far right, see also here).

Figure 4.12.24: Merged photo using AS17-148-22646-7 (left), AS17-148-22650 (top centre), AS17-148-22649 (bottom centre), NOAA-2 view of Madagascar (top right) and Google Earth view showing approximate location of  AS17-148-22646-50 (bottom right).

So far so good, and again we have the added bonus of the clouds visible in the EPO photographs also being shown in the satellite imagery from the day of launch.

The next two images present more of a problem, as again we are faced with photographs that have no apparent land masses visible, and no transcript record available to help us. Figure 4.12.25 shows the pair.

The second view in particular is one taken at a near vertical angle, so we can deduce that it covers a relatively small area. That said, we can see a small amount of the horizon’s curve. What we can also notice below some of the higher altitude cirrus clouds is a shadow cast on the ocean below, and the angle of that shadow is comparable to the angle of the shadows cast by clouds in the preceding photographs (not to be confused with patterns on the landscape).

The conclusion I draw from this is that these two images were taken at around the same time and location. Are there any clouds we can identify in the post-TLI images? Let’s look at one in figure 4.12.26.

Can I be absolutely certain that I have the right area? No. Can I be specific about which group of clouds in that area is the one photographed in EPO? No? Is it consistent with where Apollo 17 was at a time when photographs were being taken? Absolutely yes. It’s south-east of Madagascar at the right position for their EPO pass and shows an area populated with twin bands of thicker cloud crossed by lighter high cloud and clear ocean around it.

Leaving that whacking great set of assumptions behind we can now move on to the next set of images. Some of these are easier to locate than others and we sometimes have to delve deep behind the clouds to find their locations. Figure 4.12.27 shows the first in this series.

Figure 4.12.25: AS17-148-22651 and  AS17-148-22652

Figure 4.12.26: AS17-148-22685 with suggested location of AS17-148-22651 and  AS17-148-22652, and a zoomed crop of that area.

Figure 4.12.27: AS17-148-22653 and AS17-148-22654

At first glance we have very little to go on, however if we look carefully halfway down the right hand side of the image we see this (figure 4.12.28).

Figure 4.12.28: Close up of AS17-48-22653

Where in the world could this be?

A bit of scouting around on the flight path finds that what we are looking at is the western end of the Indonesian island of Pulau Wetar. It’s shown in close up and in context in figure 4.12.29, together with an image taken from orbit by a Space Shuttle mission.

Figure 4.12.29: Google Earth views showing the location of the photos in figure 4.12.28, together with a Space Shuttle image of Pulau Wetar

The orientation of the island shows that this view is towards the north from a position below Timor, which is underneath the long bank of cloud across the centre of the photograph. At this point in the orbit they will have just passed out of contact with Carnarvon on Australia’s west coast but are sill out of range of the next tracking station and are waiting to be picked up by Hawaii. As in the previous gap between tracking stations we have no record of what was said by the crew, and for the location of the next photograph we have to skip onwards to two photographs taken after it. These three photographs are shown in figure 4.12.30.

Figure 4.12.30: AS17-148-22655, AS17-148-22656 and AS17-148-22657

As with the previous apparently oceanic images we have little to go on, but once again if we zoom in closely we can find a useful detail (figure 4.12.31.

Figure 4.12.31: Section of AS17-148-22656 compared with the same area on Google Earth.

We now have a confirmed location for the 2 pairs of photographs either side of AS17-148-22655, can we provide a definite location for it?

In a word, no.

We can, however, look at a few indications as to where it might be. One obvious indicator of the orientation of the photograph is in the bottom left corner, where the shadows of the taller more prominent clouds are long. It’s heading towards sunset in this part of the world, and the sun is behind them over the Indian ocean, so we can be certain that we are a still looking roughly in the direction of travel. The presence of the CSM window on the right hand side also suggests a slight change of the viewing angle to the right of the images that followed.

If that is the case then we ought to be able to see some sort of land mass somewhere. Figure 4.12.32 shows a close up of the horizon in AS17-148-22655.

Figure 4.12.33a: Celestia projection of the Earth at the time of the last orbit around the terminator. The red circles mark the last positively identifiable photograph locations and the red arrow the approximate path of the EPO. The arrowhead marks the terminator.

We have, therefore, a relatively narrow window in which the final photographs were taken. However, we know where they were going and have a pretty good idea of exactly which path they were following, so we now need to see if we can identify where the following three photographs are showing (figure 4.12.34).

Figure 4.12.33b: EPO map superimposed on Google Earth. Yellow markers identify known locations of photographs and the yellow line the suggested orbital path.

Figure 4.12.32: Close up of sections of the horizon in AS17-148-22655.

While it isn’t possible to identify with any certainty at all exactly which land mass we are looking at, we can say that we are looking at a land mass, and the only land mass of any significant size in the direction in which they are travelling and from this position is Papua New Guinea. The photo might also help us to identify the location of what comes next, more of which shortly.

The final set of images in the sequence before the post-TLI photographs, AS17-148-22658 to AS17-148-22668. The final 3 images are of a bright horizon but otherwise in the dark, so we are either looking at airglow (which they do mention seeing) or backwards at the sunset. We’ve already established where the last two photographs were taken, we know where Apollo 17 was heading, and we also know that before long they will be passing into darkness. Figure 4.12.33 illustrates the point.

Figure 4.12.34: AS17-148-22658, AS17-148-22659 and AS17-148-22660

The angle of this cloud, the change in direction of the horizon and the direction of the shadows are all suggestive of  the camera looking further to the right than the images showing Pulau Adi. The pattern of the clouds are also suggestive of covering a mountainous land mass and then breaking up along the coastline in the distance. The sequence of the images also shows that they are taken along the EPO flight path, given that the final image is taken looking straight down over the cloud mass in the centre of the photographs taken immediately before it. The last photograph also seems to show dark land where any gaps in the cloud can be seen.

Figure 4.12.35 illustrates the view along that flight path over the Sudimar Range and Moake Mountains, and the satellite view confirming the presence of the clouds we’re seeing.

Figure 4.12.35: EPO flight path over Papua New Guinea, as derived from the EPO map superimposed on Google Earth, and satellite view of the same area.

As hinted at earlier there are also possible clues in AS17-148-22655 (figure 4.12.36).

Figure 4.12.36: Section of AS17-148-22655 (left) to show the location of the zoomed area (top left), compared with the cloud mass shown in AS17-148-22660 (top right).

As usual, we have to add the caveat that other cloud masses are available, but it is in the right place, and has the right morphology, so it seems a reasonable conclusion to draw.

Now on to the final images, taken as they approach the terminator and prepare for the TLI burn (figure 4.12.37).

Figure 4.12.37: Left to right - AS17-148-22661, AS17-148-22662, AS17-148-22663, AS17-148-22664, AS17-148-22665

We have the same issue here as we have had with previous photographs in that we have no land mass on which we can pin with any certainty. However if we assume that the last photograph examined is directly over the high peaks of Papua New Guinea and we are continuing to take images in the direction of travel, then we can safely assume that we are looking at the last section of open ocean before the sunset. The angle has changed again, suggesting we are looking slightly north of East than the last images that were slightly south of it.

We can determine that the first image does contain the location of the other 3. Figure 4.12.38 shows that we can follow the progress of the crew towards the terminator. While it’s relatively easy to find the areas in the first 4 photographs, the last one is slightly trickier, and I’ve used an area of cloud on the horizon to confirm it.

The next question then, again, is ‘can we identify where this is’?

Again, in a word, no, but we can see if there are any areas in other photographs that look similar. Figure 4.12.39 shows AS17-148-22660 with an area identified. That area has been stretched to try and make it cover the same sort of area as AS17-148-22661.

Figure 4.12.39: Zoomed and stretched section of AS17-148-22660.

The main reasons for picking out this area are that firstly it lies in the path of Apollo 17, and secondly the presence of the shadow line under the band of cloud running across the photo, together an obvious gap in that cloud and an area of more broken cloud before that.

Conclusive? No. Reasonable? Yes.

We’ve now, admittedly with some conjecture and guesswork, identified the locations of all the photographs taken while Apollo 17 was in EPO. The final three photographs before we start to see images that are definitely post-TLI are shown in figure 4.12.40.

Figure 4.12.39: Above - Montage of 4 of the images shown in figure 4.12.38 (AS17-148-22664 is only marginally different to AS17-148-22663 and is omitted), with a red outline identifying the location of the next image in the sequence. Right, stretched section of AS17-148-22663 compared with the same area in AS17-148-22665

Figure 4.12.40: AS17-148-22666, AS17-148-22667 and AS17-148-22668

They are obviously of the approaching sun, and Cernan mentions that TLI would take them through sunrise.

That’s it, all done. We now have a complete map of where images were taken, and for the tl:dr generation, here it is summarised on the map (figure 4.12.41).

Figure 4.12.41: Suggested locations of Apollo 17 EPO images.

As a final point - if anyone claims images of Earth taken by Apollo were done in Low Earth Orbit, show them how small an area a photograph taken from there actually covers!

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