This silicon disk, about the size of a US half-dollar coin, was left on the moon by Buzz Aldrin by order of NASA. It contains messages from 76 heads of state, including three US presidents. The writing on the disk is so tiny that anyone who found it would need a microscope to decipher it.
Objects on the Moon
Presidents on a Microchip
Golfing on the Moon
Astronaut Alan Shepard was curious about how a golf ball would behave on the moon. Although his boss was initially reluctant, Shepard got permission to bring along a makeshift golf club and two golf balls, which then he hit a few hundred meters at the end of the mission. The golf ball landed near the white pole seen below left in the picture.
Although it may look like a drink coaster, it’s actually a metal sheet memorializing the 14 astronauts and cosmonauts who lost their lives in the race to the moon. The metal sheet was placed on the moon’s surface in the summer of 1971.
Free Fall Testing
In order to prove Galileo Galilei’s equivalence principle—in which all bodies in a vacuum fall at the same speed—astronaut David Randolph Scott dropped a hammer and a falcon feather. And—as predicted by Galileo—the two objects hit the surface of the moon at the same time, despite their differing weights and sizes. This was because the objects were falling in a vacuum.
The Ashes of the Planetologist
American Eugene Shoemaker was one of the founders of the field of planetary science. He generated the first geologic map of the moon’s surface and trained astronauts. After his death, Shoemaker’s ashes were taken to the moon, where they lie in an urn bearing a quotation from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet:
And, when he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine.
Symbol of Peace
As a symbol of peace, Neil Armstrong left a golden olive branch on the moon. The branch is about 15 centimeters long.
Driving on the Moon
The moon is home to three lunar roving vehicles (LRV). The crews of Apollo 15, 16, and 17 each took an LRV with them to the moon, but the vehicles were too heavy to take back to Earth. Use of the LRVs was strictly regulated. Astronauts were permitted to drive them only as far from the spaceship as they could walk back in an emergency.
Swedish firm Hasselblad was considered the world’s best camera manufacturer at the time of the first moon landing. It’s no wonder then that the astronauts’ cameras came from Sweden. They were too heavy to all make the trip back to Earth, however, so the astronauts brought back only one in 1971. This Hasselblad immediately became a collector’s item that was sold at auction for 660,000 euros.