Harsh conditions and extreme temperatures are nothing in the face of symbols of American pride.
Scientists believe, based on new imagery from an orbiting satellite, that every US flag planted in the soil of the moon remains standing even after being exposed to the celestial body’s often extreme climate conditions.
All, that is, except for the one planted during the iconic Apollo 11 mission. But that didn’t come as a surprise, as astronaut Buzz Aldrin already accounted 40+ years ago that the flag was knocked over by Apollo 11’s engine exhaust when he and his team lifted off to head back home.
The new evidence comes from the Lunar Reconaissance Orbiter (LRO), which has been circling the moon to provide never-before-seen images of its landscape and to scope out potentially new landing sites for another mission there.
The project’s chief scientist Mark Robinson confirmed, “From the LROC images it is now certain that the American flags are still standing and casting shadows at all of the sites, except Apollo 11.”
While the pictures certainly don’t know any traces of red, white, and blue, Robinson and his team have pinpointed a series of shadows that change during the day in a way consistent with that of a flag. The shadows also exist exactly in the locations on the moon where each respective landing happened.
“Personally I was a bit surprised that the flags survived the harsh ultraviolet light and temperatures of the lunar surface, but they did. What they look like is another question,” Robinson said.