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Memento Moon: Items that were left behind



Between 1969 and 1972, twelve astronauts successfully landed on the Moon and returned to Earth, bringing back with them lunar samples and scientific data, and, perhaps most importantly, a new understanding of what it meant to be human. But what did they leave behind?


Astronauts have left behind a wide range of items, from sentimental to trash. Here are some of the items that are not on the moon:


The Apollo 11 Goodwill Disc


The Apollo 11 goodwill disc that was left on the Moon. The disc featured an inscription that read: “Goodwill messages from around the world brought to the Moon by the astronauts of Apollo 11.” Image from NASA.


The size of a US Mint 50-cent piece, the disc carried messages from Presents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, as well as messages of goodwill from leaders of 73 countries around the world. Some of the messages expressed reverence for progress and the increase of knowledge, while others called for world peace in the name of humankind's greatest achievement.


Buzz Aldrin, one of the astronauts that were a part of the Apollo 11 mission, had almost forgotten to place this disc on the moon. It was Armstrong that had to remind him to do it while they were about the return to the lunar module.


Golf Balls


A view of the golf ball (center of image, circled in red) left behind on the Moon by Alan Shepard. Image from NASA.


During the Apollo 14 mission, astronaut Alan Shepard carried a golf club in his spacesuit pocket, attaching the club head to the handle of a contingency sample return device. He then proceeded to smack two golf balls on the lunar surface, which are still there today.


Family photograph

The photograph of Charles Duke’s family was left behind on the lunar surface. Image from NASA.


During the Apollo 16 mission, astronaut Charles Duke brought a photo of him and his family. The photo was signed by him, tucked into a plastic sleeve, and left on the moon.


Other miscellaneous items:

  • Apollo 1 patch, honoring the three astronauts who perish during the Apollo 1 fire.

  • Medals commemorating Russian astronaut Vladimir Komarov, who was the first man to die on a mission to space, and Yuri Gagarin, who was the first human in space.

  • A gold olive branch, symbolizing that they "came in peace for mankind."

  • More than 70 spacecraft vehicles, because they are too heavy and not worth the cost to be brought back.

  • Tools and television equipment that are no longer needed.

  • Six American flags.

  • Trash - ranging from food packaging to wet wipes to packets of human excrement.


If given the chance, what would you bring and leave on the moon?


Want to learn more about the moon? Then be sure to check out our latest exhibit: "Destination Moon," showing now until September 24th at the Sulphur Springs Museum.




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