Exploring us exploring the moon

The The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter may have solved one mystery.

Does this flag still “wave”?

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It’s the flag planted by the Apollo 17 crew in 1972, the last manned mission to the moon.

The “LRO” has been exploring the site and has determined that the flag — as well as the lunar rover tracks — are still there. (Click following image for larger view)

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The Apollo landing sites are the only entirely undisturbed historic sites of man’s quest to explore, what with there being no air and all. Or are they?

Discover Magazine notes:


Back to the flag, there’s a curious thing about it. The flag itself was nylon, and that tends to get brittle when exposed to ultraviolet light — which is relentless and plentiful on the airless Moon (the thermal pounding it’s taken between day and night can’t help either). I’ve often wondered what we’ll find when we go back to the Apollo landing sites; I half-expect to see red, white, and blue powder off to one side of the flagpole, and no actual flag left on the pole. This picture, as frakkin’ amazing as it is, is still just barely too low resolution to be able to say for sure, I think. The shadow is only a pixel or so in size and so it’s hard to say what’s what.

There’s an extensive online collection of the Apollo 17 landing site.

Do these latest pictures also prove that man really did walk on the moon?