News & Opinion | July 19, 2019 4:11 pm

What’s Happening at the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing Site, 50 Years Later

A lack of weather means every single dent or imprint will last forever

Apollo 11 moon landing site
Remnants from the Apollo 11 mission remain on the moon. (NASA/Liaison)
Getty Images

When Buzz Aldrin saw the surface of the moon up close for the first time, he said it was “magnificent desolation.” Then he left his feces there.

The crew of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon actually left a number of random objects and pieces of inessential equipment behind, The Atlantic reported. A seismometer, commemorative plaques and assorted tools, that iconic American flag, mission patches and medals … and, yes, their bagged-up personal waste.

The flag, however, has seen better days. It’s no longer standing, and hasn’t been since Aldrin and Neil Armstrong’s spaceship took off and spewed exhaust everywhere in order to return back to Earth. Armstrong said he saw it fall as the team left the moon, according to The Atlantic.

There was nothing done to the flag to protect or prepare it for life in space. It was an “off-the-shelf purchase,” as the magazine put it, and without an atmosphere on the moon, the sun’s rays have been punishing the flag for half a century, and have bleached it white.

“Have you ever seen burnt newspaper from a fireplace? All the color is gone and everything,” Dennis LaCarrubba, a worker from the plant that produced the flag, told The Atlantic. “That’s probably what the flag would look like now.”

What remains intact, however, are those first ever — and only — footprints made by the brave astronauts’ boots, according to the mag. A lack of weather on the airless surface means every single dent or imprint will last forever.

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