Artist Randy Regier visited the Cosmosphere Museum in Hutchinson, Kansas. He snapped a photo of this Russian sphere, a duplicate of the one the Russians sent to the Moon in 1959. Here's the description:
A Cosmic Calling Card
Luna II becomes the first man-made object to impact the lunar surface, and the first to reach a cosmic body other than the Earth.
In a move that was sheer propaganda, the Soviets placed a stainless steel sphere (identical to the one displayed here) aboard the Luna II spacecraft. The sphere was covered with medallions stamped with the emblem of the Soviet Union and the year 1959. When Luna II impacted the Moon, the sphere was ejected, scattering the medallions across the lunar surface. It was the Soviet version of a calling card, announcing to all who followed that the Soviet Union had been the first to the moon.
This is the first time I've heard about this.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects