Poop on the moon, and how to protect it


Dylan Thuras is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Dylan is a travel blogger and the co-founder of the Atlas Obscura: A Compendium of the World's Wonders, Curiosities, and Esoterica, with Joshua Foer.

When Neil Armstrong first took that one small step onto the moon, he left behind more than just a footprint. Among the many items still sitting in the Bay of Tranquility are;

Neil Armstrong's boots, a gold replica of an olive branch, tongs, four armrests, urine collection assemblies, a hammer, an insulating blanket, and… four defecation collection devices. Yes, Neil Armstrong's poop is moldering on the moon.

While bags of frozen astronaut poop may sound unimportant, even a little gross, some "extreme heritage" conservationists are very concerned about their protection–as well as the other detritus left behind by humanity's first moonwalkers. For now, Tranquility Base is still tranquil (there is no wind or rain up there to damage things), but preservationists worry that private space enterprises will one day endanger the Apollo landing site, as well as other important landmarks on the moon. From the Lunar Legacy Site:

"Unfortunately, at the present time both NASA and the Federal Government are not willing to pursue preserving these properties on the moon…The Apollo 11 Lunar Landing Site is not simply a significant site for Americans, it was a significant event for all of humanity. The steps on the moon were a step for mankind. Over 600 million people watched the moon landing. The site belongs to the world."

Full list of items left at the Apollo 11 landing sites, at the Lunar Legacy Site.
Great New Scientist piece on preserving Tranquility Base, Space Archeology Wiki, and LA Times Article on space heritage.