LRO photos show most American flags on the moon still standing

Jul 31, 2012
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We all know that NASA put men on the moon in the 1960s during the Apollo program. Each one of the landing sites on the moon from the Apollo missions has its own American flag standing proudly. One question that many fans of space exploration in the US have wondered is, are those flags still standing after all these years.

Scientists have been pouring over the moon photographs taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter camera and have determined that most of the flags are still standing after all these years. According to the scientists, all the American flags are standing with one exception. The flag from Apollo 11 has fallen over.

"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," LROC principal investigator Mark Robinson wrote in a blog post today(July 27). "Astronaut Buzz Aldrin reported that the flag was blown over by the exhaust from the ascent engine during liftoff of Apollo 11, and it looks like he was correct!" The one flag that is no longer standing was blown over before the Apollo 11 mission ended.

It's really not much of a surprise that all of the flags are still standing considering the moon has little gravity and no wind. The image you see here is of the Apollo 11 landing site showing no flag shadow. The scientists studied photographs taken at various times of day looking for shadows cast by the flags from various angles to confirm that they were still standing. Maybe one day we will go back to the moon and see these flags in person.

"Intuitively, experts mostly think it highly unlikely the Apollo flags could have endured the 42 years of exposure to vacuum, about 500 temperature swings from 242 F during the day to -280 F during the night, micrometeorites, radiation and ultraviolet light, some thinking the flags have all but disintegrated under such an assault of the environment," scientist James Fincannon, of the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, wrote in the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal.

[via Space.com]


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