Man has always wondered and dreamed about the landscape of the distant and intriguing Moon. The first step in deciphering surface details of Earth's only satellite was initiated when Galileo Galilei trained his crude telescope toward our closest neighbor in the sky. A greater step came with the advent of the space age when automated spacecraft telemetered their intelligence to Earth. Yet a longer step was taken by Apollo, when photographic equipment captured the Moon's surface in intimate detail and greater accuracy than ever before.
When we decided to add the scientific instrument module (SIM) bay to Apollo missions 15 through 17, photography from orbit was high on our list of scientific objectives. The Apollo metric camera system was flown to acquire photographic data with high accuracy to aid the effort of Moon mapping, both for operational reasons and for future study and research. To complement this photography, we selected the panoramic camera to provide high-resolution (nearly 1 m) photography of lunar surface features for detailed analysis and photointerpretation.
This book presents only a fraction of the great volume of the acquired photographs. It is our hope that this selection from some 18 000 metric, panoramic, and other camera views of the Moon will inspire further interest in Apollo photographs. Through a better understanding of our neighbors in the solar system, we aim to achieve a better understanding of our own planet, its history, and evolution. With the Apollo lunar missions we have barely opened the door to the study of our solar system. Beyond that opened door lie many puzzles to be deciphered, mysteries to be unraveled, and secrets to be challenged.