Not lost in space... Apollo 17 lunar surface map sells for $27,800
The chart, signed by moonwalker Gene Cernan, could have been crucial for him and Harrison Schmitt
As we've reported, the top two lots in RR Auction's Space Sale were related to the first moonwalking mission, Apollo 11. Specifically a rare space-flown silver Robbins medal and a space-flown flag with all three signatures of Aldrin, Collins and Neil Armstrong - the latter even including an inscription.
However, a more functional item which could have been crucial to the final moon mission was also on offer, and bidders were certainly keen on that too.
This was an Apollo 17 Lunar Rover 'Bearing Chart' Map, 10.25 x 8, used on the lunar surface and carried on board the lunar rover. This map was for use in an emergency should the astronauts have to abandon their rover and walk back to the lunar module.
It is signed on the reverse in black felt tip, "This map was used aboard the Apollo XVII Lunar Rover. Gene Cernan, Apollo XVII-CDR." It has three separated punch holes to the top edge, as well as some mild vertical rippling, but is otherwise in fine condition.
The map is accompanied by a 2010 letter of certification signed by Cernan, explaining the purpose and provenance of the chart. That letter reads, in part: "While on the Moon, Jack and I drove a lunar rover during our exploration of Taurus-Littrow.
"We had a series of maps specifically intended for use in conjunction with our lunar rover to navigate across the valley's surface. The maps were contained in the book 'LM Lunar Surface Maps,' which was carried in the rover on the lunar surface.
"This 'Bearing Chart' map, containing traces of lunar dust, was for use in the event of a malfunction that required us to walk back to the Lunar Module.
|Gene Cernan fixes the lunar rover with duct tape|
"The map plate shows the entire landing site surrounded by compass bearings.…The map allowed us to determine where we were in relation to the lunar module at all times. This lunar rover map spent 22 hours and 3 minutes on the lunar surface and was exposed to the temperature extremes, radiation and Solar Wind within the vacuum of deep space…
"This lunar rover map is one of the few object [sic] actually used directly on the Moon's surface and is also a rare example of an astronaut flight-certified artifact returned from the lunar surface."
The map is also accompanied by a photo of Cernan holding the chart after signing. As a highly-important space relic directly from the lunar surface, which potentially could have proved the difference between life and death for Cernan and Jack Schmitt, the piece sold for $27,815.
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Images: RR Auction