Where on the Moon is Jack Schmitt's Hammer?

One of the last things that Harrison H. "Jack" Schmitt did while on the surface of the moon at the end of the last lunar EVA of the Apollo program was to throw their one and only Geology hammer off into the distance. Where did the only Geology Hammer ever to be carried on the moon by a professional Geologist actually end up?

(Apologies in advance - most of these images are a bit on the large side and are slow loading over even faster modem lines.... Also, click on your browsers's "Back" button after viewing the images to return to this document.)

Here (AS17-143-21941) is an image from the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal showing Jack Schmitt most likely right after throwing his hammer off in the general direction of the ALSEP site to the west of the LM. Luckily, this image is found just after the end of a sequence of images that tell us the story of the flight of his hammer.

Here is an exerpt from the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal of the discussion surrounding the hammer throw:

170:29:44 Schmitt: Let me have your camera (to put in the ETB). Go ahead (and talk). (Noticing that Gene is about to throw the hammer) Oh, the poor little...Let me throw the hammer.

170:29:48 Cernan: Okay.

170:29:49 Schmitt: Let me throw the hammer? Please.

170:29:50 Cernan: It's all yours.

170:29:51 Schmitt: You got the gravimeter

170:29:52 Cernan: You deserve it. A hammer thrower...You're a geologist. You ought to be able to throw it.

170:29:56 Schmitt: You ready?

170:29:57 Cernan: Go ahead.

170:29:58 Schmitt: You ready for this? Ready for this?

170:30:00 Cernan: Yeah. Don't hit the LM. Or the ALSEP. (Pause)

[Jack throws the hammer with a discus motion. It is visible against the sky for a long time. Gene's picture of Jack, AS17-143-21941 may have been taken just after he threw the hammer.]
170:30:07 Cernan: Look at that! Look at that! Look at that!

170:30:12 Schmitt: Beautiful.

170:30:14 Cernan: Looked like it was going a million miles, but it really didn't.

170:30:17 Schmitt: Didn't it?

First, look at AS17-143-21938 to see Gene Cernan's first image after the hammer throw (sorry, there are no images of Schmitt actually in mid throw, except possibly a distant video image taken by the TV camera on the rover). It is a slightly blurred black and white image. Not only can you see the western flank of the North Massif to the right and in the distance, Family mountain and the hills bounding the western exit from the Taurus-Littrow Valley out into Mare Serenitatis out beyond, but also, you can see the ALSEP central station and a number of boulders nearby left of center as well as a myriad of rover tracks and astronaut boot tracks. Also visible, in the dark black sky is a small white line - the hammer in mid-flight. Zooming in, we can see a slightly blurred hammer with the head on the left.

Image AS17-143-21939 contains a similar view, but with the hammer nearly end on. Image AS17-143-21940 shows the impact of the hammer on the lunar surface. Just right of the center of the image, to the right of the ALSEP Central station, you can see a small dark vertical arc and a black horizontal line (horizontal at least compared to the Lunar horizon as the image is tilted) to its right which is the lunar dust flying away from the impact site. Zooming in, you can see the plume in more detail.

Image AS17-143-21944 shows an image taken after the 3rd EVA towards the ALSEP site from inside the cabin. After viewing the closeup, return to this image and look closely, just above and left (at about 10 O'Clock) of the right crosshair, in the dark patch of disturbed soil. You can see the hammer just barely in this image. Looking closely to the right and below the ALSEP central station (which appears at the top left of this blown up portion of the previous frame), near the lower right corner of this image is a small straight, but slightly irregular feature - the hammer, lying out on the lunar surface.

Jim Scotti

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Last update: August 29, 1999