Humans have been exploring space since the 1960s, with the first ever space expedition in 1961.
On that mission, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gargarin became the first ever human in space, completing a 108 minutes orbital flight inside a spacecraft.
Just a few years later, American astronauts Neil Armstrong and ‘Buzz’ Aldrin made history with the first ever moon landing in July 1969.
The Apollo 11 mission first blasted off on July 16, 1969, and landed on the moon just four days later on July 20th 1969.
In this iconic and pivotal moment in history, Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon where we first heard the words: ‘one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind’.
After some exploration, Neil Armstron and Buzz Aldrin took samples, completed experiments, took photographs, and left not just their footsteps on the moon. So, what did mankind leave on the moon?
What did we leave on the moon?
You may be surprised that on the Apollo 11 mission, and many expeditions to the moon since, humans have left behind many strange and interesting items, and not just their footprints.
Of course, one of the most famous items left on the moon was the United States flag, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first landed there.
However, in addition to the flag, a commemorative plaque was left to honor the landing and mark the momentous moment in history.
The sign that was left read: ‘Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon, July 1969, A.D. We came here in peace for all mankind.’ (https://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/k-4/stories/first-person-on-moon.html)
In conjunction with this, a silicon disk was inscribed with remarks from the leaders of over 74 countries, along with medals and commemorative items to pay respects to dead Soviet cosmonauts.
One of the lesser known items that was left on the first mission to the moon is a gold, olive branch, which is a recognized symbol of peace. Astronauts left this as a notion of goodwill, peace and respect for all that may be in space.
Over time, as more and more astronauts travelled into space, and onto the moon, more items have been added and left there. As times change, the items get stranger and more unique.
For instance, a NASA astronaut named Charlie Duke once left a photograph of his family on the moon, for astronauts of the future to find.
Another astronaut, Alan Shepard of the Apollo 14 mission decided to take three golf balls, and attempted to play golf at the surface of the moon, as a fun way to commemorate the journey.
It seems odd to think that somewhere in space, there may be golf balls lying around abandoned!
These strange artefacts are part of a little bit of fun and excitement that comes with travelling into outer space. However, there have been many other things left on the moon out of sheer necessity.
For instance, astronauts may lighten the load by tossing away anything that is not needed or of importance, ready for the journey back to Earth. These items may be unwanted, unneeded or even things like human waste.
Other items were things such as the camera Armstrong and Aldrin used to televise their iconic moment on the moon, along with some tools and the packaging that carried the American flag.
Whilst they may seem like useless objects, their importance during the first space landing was astronomical.
Are there still footprints on the moon?
An interesting fact about the moon is that there is no atmosphere. This also means that there is no wind, or water on the moon, and so there is no erosion either, unlike on Earth.
Nothing on the moon gets washed away by water, and there is no volcanic activity that would change the surface of the moon.
This then means that the first footprints on the moon are still there, and will most likely be there a very long time, or up until the moon lasts itself.
You may be surprised to find that an astronaut’s footprints can actually last for millions and millions of years upon the surface of the moon, and are still there today!
It may have been decades since the first moon landing, and other subsequent moon walks, yet the astronauts who visited left footprints that are still on the moon today.
How long was the first moon walk?
When Neil Armstrong and ‘Buzz’ Aldrin first landed on the moon, and began the first ever moonwalk, it lasted for 2 hours and 36 minutes in total.
It was during this time that the whole world watched their first walk upon the surface of the moon, and the astronauts placed the United States flag into the moon itself.
After this, they spent hours collecting over 47.5 pounds of lunar materials to recover for Earth for study. Although it does not seem like long on the moon, the entire mission of Apollo 11 lasted longer than eight days in total.
Is there a person buried on the moon?
Although this sounds like some sort of bedtime story, there is a person actually buried on the moon. Eugene Shoemaker is the only person in history whose remains have been sent to the moon, as his final resting place.
Eugene Shoemaker was a scientist, who trained astronauts, and was considered one of the 20th century’s greatest minds, awarded for his contributions to knowledge.
Shoemaker studied the moon for years, from afar and longed to become an astronaut, but was never able to.
To honor his life’s work and contributions to science, his ashes were laid at the moon’s southern pole which makes him the only person to be buried at the moon.