As NASA is busy celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landings, the European Space Agency (ESA) has revealed that a Swiss flag might have made its way to the lunar surface before the American flag did. After landing on the moon, Apollo astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked into the surface of the moon, while Collins remained in the lunar orbit.
During their time on the surface of the moon, Armstrong and Aldrin conducted various experiments and broadcasted reports back to the NASA ground crew. One among such experiments was deploying a Swiss-made solar sail to study the composition of solar winds on the moon. This experiment was named the Solar Wind Composition Experiment (SWC), also known as the 'Swiss Flag Experiment'.
As per ESA, the white banner of aluminium foil used for the Swiss Flag Experiment was the only non-American experiment conducted by the Apollo 11 astronauts.
"The flag-like Solar Wind Composition Experiment was the first experiment set up by the Apollo 11 astronauts on the lunar surface, and its Principal Investigator was Johannes Geiss, the world-leading Swiss physicist. Manufactured by the University of Bern and the Swiss National Science Foundation, this experiment was both simple and of great scientific value. It was one of the only experiments to be carried on every lunar landing mission, and it was the only non-American experiment to be part of the Apollo landings," said ESA.
ESA revealed that before the launch of the Apollo 11 mission, a scientist from the ESA had suggested to attach a roll of Swiss flag in the aluminum foil so that it will become the first flag to fly high on the lunar surface.
It has been previously revealed that Apollo 11 astronauts had left behind 96 bags of human feces on the lunar surface. As per experts, astronauts did this to balance out the weight of the materials in the spacecraft, as experimental rocks from the moon added up to the weight of the module.