What did the American astronauts leave behind on the Moon?

It has been over 50 years since humans first visited the Moon on July 20, 1969, and provided us with valuable information about the Earth’s natural satellite. Around 600 million people watched this fantastic feat live on television. On the American astronauts’ return, people were exhilarated to see what they brought back home, such as ancient rocks and moondust. However, they didn’t only take things from the Moon, they also left various stuff on the lunar surface, 238,855 miles away from the planet.

Truth to be told, a dozen of astronauts walked on the Moon in various missions from 1969 to 1972. The first visitors of the Moon, the Apollo 11 crew, left a silicon disc nearly the size of an American half a dollar coin. It contains goodwill messages from leaders from 73 countries, promoting friendship.

It was enclosed in an aluminum capsule, serving as its protection from the harsh temperatures of the Moon. Astronauts left in the Sea of Tranquility, the area where humans first took steps on the Moon and explored. The disc may be too small and may be easy to disregard, but it delivered giant messages of hope and peace to the Moon.

Lunar Roving Vehicle/LRV

In February 1971, Apollo 14 crew member Alan Shepard astonished the world when he stepped on the Moon with a golf club and two golf balls in hand – things he brought illicitly in the mission. Shepard made few swings before eventually hitting the ball which flew in space. The playful act was captured on camera, and the golf balls served as quirky gifts to the Moon, now enshrouded by moondust.

A year later, another astronaut left a unique item on the Moon. Apollo 16 crew member, Charles Duke brought a family portrait of his family, Duke, his wife, and their two sons, and left it on the lunar surface. But, given that the Moon has no atmosphere, has no protection from UV radiation from the sun’s intense rays, the photograph most likely has already faded into oblivion.

Starting from the Apollo 11 and the five following missions, all left a U.S. flag on the Moon’s rocky surface. However, like Duke’s memento, it is theorized that all nylon flags have faded to white, or disintegrated through the years. While many believe that the emplacement of the U.S. flag on the lunar soil was U.S. way of seemingly claiming the Moon, NASA said all acts were solely symbolic gestures.

Missions starting from the Apollo 11 left different experiments and equipment to the Moon, such as the Early Apollo Scientific Experiment Package, some instruments to measure seismic activity, and others to monitor and take photos of the lunar surface. All these were battery-operated, and the severe temperatures in the Moon destroyed most items.

What’s weird is that astronauts from the Apollo 11 also left human waste. While icky, these bags contain information about astronauts diet in space, and the effect space does to their bodies. Moreover, getting those bags after year’s in the lunar surface may provide information to scientists on how tremendous the lunar environment is and how it can affect a human body, turning human waste into great pieces of experiments.

In the succeeding missions, other astronauts also had to discard waste bags to maximize space in their modules. They had to drop as much equipment they can to make room for samples from the Moon, leaving scoops, hammers, measuring devices, and other tools on the Moon’s rocky roil. NASA collected as much as 850 pounds of rock and soil during the Apollo era.

One souvenir, though not an object, still stands on the moons – the footprints and the track of all human visitor’s of the Moon. Since there is no weather, air or water on the Moon, there is nearly nothing to wipe away all those mementos, so they are meant to last for millions of years.

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