It's no secret that us, humans, have a propensity towards leaving our discarded junk behind everywhere, whether we're going camping by the lake or savoring a delicious sandwich in the supermarket parking lot. While some of the things in the following points were left on the lunar surface purposely, others are there simply because it was more convenient than transporting them back to Earth or due to practical reasons. Before we begin, it's also important to note that a great deal of the debris on the Moon consists of decommissioned spacecraft and probe remnants, estimated at over 400,000 pounds. Let's see what else we'll be able to find on the Moon once it's finally colonized.
Charles Duke, who was part of the Apollo 16 mission, dropped a family photo featuring himself, his wife and his son for the future generations of lunar explorers, human or otherwise. The back of the photograph also presents a dedication and his signature, but it is believed that exposure to radiation is very likely to have faded the image a great deal.
To perform the bowling ball and feather drop experiment, Apollo 15's Scott dropped a hammer and the feather of the Air Force Academy's mascot – a falcon – simultaneously. He confirmed the theory, but chose to leave the feather behind.
It's evident that the astronauts didn't just 'hold it' for the entire duration of the mission, but many don't know what happens to the results of the physical needs they experienced during that time. The answer is simple: they were left behind on the Moon, because they were essentially dead weight for the spacecraft. The fluids and solids collected in 96 special bags are still on the lunar surface, as the missions had to lighten the ship in order to make room for the rock samples they had to bring back. What's more interesting, however, is that scientists have recently begun manifesting interest in the transformation of microorganisms in these samples under the effect of space radiation.
A collaborative project that included famous artists like Rauschenberg, Oldenburg and even Warhol is also now currently residing on the Moon in the form of a miniature ceramic wafer. Later on, the Apollo 15 mission carried with it a small statuette created by Paul van Hoeydonck, named the Fallen Astronaut, to commemorate the brave heroes who gave their lives so that we may finally touch down on the lunar surface.
As previously mentioned, the astronauts had to come up with creative ways to reduce the load of their ships for takeoff with the extra weight of the Moon rock samples. Since discarding their bodily fluids and solids was simply not enough, they decided to leave behind any nonessentials. Therefore, in addition to the US flag, the Moon is now home to space boots, filming equipment and numerous paraphernalia left behind by Armstrong and Aldrin following the Apollo 11 mission.
Apollo 14's Allan Shepard is famous for being the first astronaut to golf in outer space, using a golf club's head fastened to a soil scoop utensil designed for collecting samples. While he bragged about the balls flying for miles, it's entirely more probable that the distance didn't in fact exceed several hundred yards, even with the Moon's reduced gravity. Some may say it was just his excuse for not retrieving the balls afterwards.
With a presidency that spanned throughout all the manned Moon missions, it was only natural for Nixon's signature to earn a place on the lunar surface. It's important to note that, so far, no other US president managed to get his John Hancock on the Moon.
Do you know of other interesting things left on the lunar surface that I haven't covered here? What would you like to leave on the moon if you ever get the chance to pay it a visit?
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