NASA Reveals Vintage Snapshot: American Flag on Lunar Surface with Earth in View, 51 Years Ago

Written by Henrik Rothen

Dec.18 - 2023 12:25 PM CET

Photo: Instagram
Photo: Instagram
American Flag on Lunar Surface with Earth in View, 51 Years Ago.

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NASA Artemis recently shared a captivating image on Instagram, a 51-year-old photograph showcasing the US flag on the Moon's surface with Earth visible in the distance.

The picture, taken during the Apollo Mission, features the Earth as a crescent in the backdrop, with the lunar feature South Massif in the near background.

The photograph was taken by either Eugene A. Cernan or Harrison H. Schmitt, crew members of the Apollo 17 lunar landing mission. The flag, significantly larger than those used in previous missions, had previously flown in the Mission Operations Control Room in Houston during Apollo.

This flag deployment was part of the crew's first walk on the Moon during their 75-hour lunar surface mission.

NASA Artemis noted that six US flags were planted on the Moon, one for each Apollo mission. However, the flags themselves no longer exist on the lunar surface due to the harsh lunar environment, including extreme temperature fluctuations, vacuum, micrometeorites, radiation, and ultraviolet light.

The flagpoles, though, were still standing and casting shadows in images captured decades later by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The Instagram post, shared four days ago, has garnered over 43,000 likes and numerous comments. People expressed their awe and curiosity in the comments section, with one user joking about a "windy day on the moon," while others inquired about the durability of flags for future missions and the absence of stars in the photo.