NASA Photos Reveal Flags from Apollo Landings Still Standing

By Chelsea Whyte on July 31, 2012 12:55 AM EDT

moon flags
NASA photos show the shadows of the flags planted by Apollo astronauts. (Photo: NASA)

New pictures from NASA give 'proof through the night that our flag was still there'. The space agency has analyzed shots from the moon's surface to determine that five of the six American flags placed on the moon's surface by Apollo astronauts are still standing.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) provided agency scientists with photos that show enough shadow to confirm that the flags all but one of the named Apollo missions still stand tall.

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Previous attempts to analyze photos of the flags didn't show enough shadow to confirm that the flags were upright. But now, having examined photos taken of the same spots at various points in the day, scientists have observed shadows circling the point where the flag is thought to be.

"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, reports The Huffington Post. "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!"

Scientists are somewhat surprised that the flags have lasted four decades exposed to the harsh lunar environment.

"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, according to Fox News.

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