New photos from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter Camera (LROC) reveal that most of the American flags planted on the moon during the Apollo mission series are still standing, according to Space.com.
“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 in a blog post Friday detailing the new images. “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 had speculated that the flags planted during the six missions were still standing, based on seeing what they thought were their shadows in the past; Robinson wrote that he was surprised at the discovery, given the conditions the flags have been exposed to for more than four decades.
This past April, a member of the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, scientist James Fincannon, wrote that experts thought it unlikely; the flags have been hit by not only 42 years of exposure to the vacuum of space, but temperatures ranging from 242 degrees Farenheit during the day to -280 degrees at night.
“Some [thought] the flags have all but disintegrated under such an assault of the environment,” Fincannon wrote.
The best way to see the flags on the moon, Robinson said, is by watching a video of the images taken by LROC at different times of day, which you can do below:
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