If humans make it to the moon again, we can finally silence the conspiracy theorists who are convinced the 1969 Moon landing was all a rouse. We’ll just have to look for the litter left behind by Apollo 11 astronauts when the lifted off and headed home.
The descent stage of the Eagle lunar landing module is still in the Sea of Tranquility, with a plaque proclaiming “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon. July 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.” Just a few feet away, an aluminum capsule holds a tiny silicon disc complete with messages from four United States presidents and 73 other heads of state.
Along with those official markers, Armstrong and Aldrin also left an Apollo 1 mission patch in memory of the three astronauts who died when their command module caught fire during a test flight just a couple years early. They also left behind two medals awarded to Russian cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin and Vladimir Komarov. This is just one example of a mutual respect among those who face the dangers of space exploration—even at the height of the Cold War.
Those sentimental objects aside, Armstrong and Aldrin also left behind tools, gear, and even trash. Because NASA was determined to bring back as many lunar samples as possible, the crew was instructed to leave behind everything they didn’t absolutely need for the trip back to Earth.
Most of the discarded space gear sits off to the west of the actual landing site, earning the nickname the Toss Zone. The Lunar Legacy Project at New Mexico State University has a list of everything the crew left behind. Hopefully, we’ll be reunited with the ‘junk’ sometime in the near future.