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Today in STEM -- December 14

Almost everyone knows that Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the moon, but what about the last?

On this day exactly 40 years ago, astronaut Eugene Cernan became the "last man" (so far) to walk on the moon. Cernan was the commander of Apollo 17, the last in the Apollo series of spacecraft. He was the last of 12 people who walked on the moon, one of three to have voyaged to the moon twice, and the only one to have descended to the moon twice, though he did not leave the Lunar Lander on Apollo 10, his first trip to the moon.

The Apollo project, conceived under President Eisenhower but made famous by President Kennedy, was the first three-man project in NASA's history -- Mercury spacecraft were designed for one astronaut and the Gemini project was a two-man series that gave NASA valuable information about how human bodies reacted to space and helped develop technology that made a moon landing possible. Arguably the most famous Apollo missions were Apollo 11 and Apollo 13 -- the first moon landing and a mission that went disastrously wrong, respectively. 

Currently NASA has no plans to return to the moon, but is pushing the envelope by traveling farther into the solar system. Mars, recently the site of the Curiosity Landing. is the current focus of exploration. Perhaps in 20 years, we'll be writing on the anniversary of the first man to walk on Mars.       

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