The American flag on the moon

Is the American flag originally planted by the Astronauts of Apollo 11 still there? I have heard conflicting stories, if its not there, what caused it? Thanks in advance for any info.

Well, if it isn’t there, we can blame it one those damn juvenile Moon delinquents.

Actually, each of the successful Apollo moon landings probably planted a flag, so there are six.

There should be a “Report this post to the Bad Astronomer” button here.

According to this link:

The flag was knocked down by the blast from the LEM lifting off.

So it’s still there, but not standing.

There’s no reason for it (them) not to be there…it’s not like a dust storm came along and blew it away or anything :slight_smile:

RJKUgly - I’d be terribly surprised if the exhaust from the LEM could actually knock over the flag, but then again I’m not going to argue with NASA.

I’ll have to do some digging to get the facts checked, but IIRC, the Apollo 11 crew carried two flags, one that was simply displayed on the Moon, the other was left there. The one they displayed was hung up in Mission Control as a memento. Then, when the Apollo 17 crew learned that theirs was going to be the last manned mission, they took the Apollo 11 flag down from MC, and planted it on the Moon. As to which astronaut said that, and how true it is, I dunno. It’s either in the commentary on Apollo 13 or the commentary on For All Mankind, don’t remember which one.

Well, I’m sure not an expert here, but it seems conceivable.

It seems to me that during the first second or two of ascent, virtually all of the blast would have been diverted sideways by the base of the LEM. I think the flag was only a dozen or so feet from the LEM, so if the blast was strong enough to lift the ascent stage, I would think a part of the force could knock down the flag. And since the flag was apparently not planted very well (I believe they had trouble pounding the flag pole into the ground, which turned out to be much harder packed than expected) it probably wouldn’t have taken much to blow it over.

If the flag still looks like a flag I would be surprised. The moon gets a lot of energetic radiation that is blocked by our atmosphere. However, even with our atmospheric protection, UV fades and deteriorates fabric over time. Imagine what has happened to the fabric of the flag when it has been exposed to the direct radiation from the sun for all of these years.

I agree. The flags were made of nylon, which I believe will disintegrate after a few years of severe UV exposure. When we go back, we may not find the flags at all, just the poles (at least one of which – Apollo 11, from what I have read – was knocked over).

I have also heard the footprints may be gone, due to the lunar regolith (the powdery dust) circulating vertically over many years. I’ll have to dig up my reference for that.

For more about the flag, read Where No Flag Has Gone Before, which is a very interesting essay about how the flag was used in the Apollo missions.

Gone? Now wait a minute… I recall they used some craters to semi-accurately date other craters, and that most of the regolith was a combination of micrometeoroids and ejecta of various sorts from impacts. What could possibly cause any sort of “circulation” since there’s essentially no tectonic activity?

Here’s a thread with information on lunar gardening:
Are Neil Armstrong’s footprints still perfectly preserved on the moon?

No, the flag is not there.

In the early '80s, the EPA issued a citation to NASA for littering on the moon. This included the flags, lunar rovers, golf balls, and all the other stuff that was left there from the six manned moon missions in '69 and the '70s. As a result, NASA sent a clean-up crew to the moon in 1983 to pick up the garbage. The EPA sent an inspection crew in 1985 and declared the moon pollution to be within acceptable limits and reduced the proposed fine against NASA from $875 million to $125 million (NASA was still getting hit for not bringing back the Pioneer and Voyager probes). NASA paid the fine in November 1987.

Zev Steinhardt

The above is just a joke

Zev Steinhardt

The following is a quote from FAQ

Is the American flag still on the Moon?

Yes, the flag is still on the Moon. The first U.S. flag on the Moon was deployed by Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin during their historic EVA (extravehicular activity) on 20 July 1969 (at 4 days, 14 hours and 9 minutes mission-elapsed time). The flag was seen worldwide on live television. At their technical crew debriefing, Armstrong and Aldrin reported a few problems with the deployment. They had trouble extending the horizontal telescoping rod and could not pull it all the way out. This gave the flag a bit of a “ripple effect,” and later crews intentionally left the rod partially retracted. The Apollo 11 astronauts also noted that they could drive the lower portion of the pole only about 6 to 9 inches into the surface. It is uncertain if the flag remained standing or was blown over by the engine blast when the ascent module took off.

I guess that’s the official word. :dubious:

I had to use it. Of course, not everyone believes NASA even went to the moon, hmm…think that’ll bring out the whacks…:smack:

Why? It was a rocket engine - of course it would knock a flag over! They planted it quite close to the LM too.

Sadly that was necessary Zev. :slight_smile:

Not necessarily. The engine didn’t need to generate a huge amount of thrust to get off the Moon. Also, the gas plume expands very rapidly. The thrust can be large, but when spread out over a large area the pressure drops quite a bit. The flag may have only felt a few ounces of pressure totalled over its surface. That’s why the rocket of the LM didn’t blast a crater in the Moon either.

You beat me to it Bad Astronomer :slight_smile:

OK, but it still fell down. :slight_smile:

The one on Apollo 11, anyway. Buzz Aldrin said so, as I recall from the Andrew Chaikin book.

In the “From the Earth to the Moon” series on HBO they had Alan Bean of Apollo 12 say something like, “They could send a man to the moon, but they couldn’t figure they should put a flag 50 feet away from a rocket engine so it wouldn’t get blown over.”

I don’t know if Bean or anyone else actually said anything of the sort, however.

But my point is it would seem someone probably should have thought of this, given the fact that NASA at that time was quite good at figuring out things that were likely to happen.