Preserving the Moon and Protecting Its Rocks

Astronaut Eugene Cernan salutes deployed U.S. flag on the lunar surface
Credit NASA Goddard Center on Flickr Creative Commons

Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon, but the first man to urinate there was Buzz Aldrin, just a little ahead of Neil. The two astronauts relieved themselves into bags within their suits, then removed those bags and left them on the lunar surface. When you gotta go, you gotta go. It was time to go. 

At the last minute, Aldrin left a gold olive branch, Armstrong reminded him to leave an Apollo 1 patch and two Russian cosmonaut medallions to honor their peers who died during their race for space. According to some accounts, they were in a rush by that time and these things were kind of dumped out unceremoniously. They also left their moon boots. 

So you know that whole camping thing about take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints. That's not how we roll on the moon. 

Today, we'll talk about moon preservation and the colorful story of theft and black market sale of moon rocks. 

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  • Dr. Beth O'Leary is an assistant professor of anthropology at New Mexico State University
  • Robert Pearlman is an American space historian and the founder and science editor of CollectSPACE.com, a website with news and information about space exploration history
  • Joseph Gutheinz is an attorney and retired undercover agent for NASA, who likes to be called "Moon Rock Hunter"