It feels hard to believe that the last time a human being left Earth orbit was about 45 years ago. Those pioneering steps towards interplanetary space, culminating with brief sojourns on the lunar surface, are still so iconic, and so surprising. 

Long-time readers of this blog will know that it has a soft spot for early space exploration, and the remarkable accomplishments of the Apollo missions in particular. The extraordinary thing is that there is still so much raw material - from images to scientific data - left over from that heyday of humans in space.

These days, with a little poking around it's possible for anyone to dig up new treasures. And for no other reason than to let you pause for a moment in your busy day and contemplate a slightly broader view of our existence, I thought I'd share a few of these finds.

The first of these is pretty special, it is a photograph (taken with one of the 70mm Hasselblads that the astronauts had with them) of Harrison "Jack" Schmitt at the Apollo 17 rover, but with the Earth captured above his shoulder. 

Credit: NASA

A dirty Gene Cernan (Apollo 17)

Credit: NASA
Credit: NASA

Above: orange soil (Apollo 17)

Steps (Apollo 17)

Credit: NASA

Magnetometer (foreground, Apollo 16)

Credit: NASA

Apollo 16

Credit: NASA

Apollo 16, boulder

Credit: NASA

Apollo 16

Credit: NASA

Apollo 15, David Scott and sun glare

Credit: NASA