There is almost no erosion process on the surface of the moon, which helps to preserve the footprints left by the astronauts, but until when? Do they look like dinosaurs on earth? Should they be a World Heritage Site? In addition to re-establishing Buzz Aldrin’s iconic footprint in 3D, a group of Argentine researchers also pondered these issues.
On the night of July 20-21, 1969, the mission staff Apollo 11 They reached the moon, as he said Neil Armstrong By standing there, he “is a small step for a person and a big leap for a human being”.Minutes later, it dropped Bath Aldrin Among other tasks, he also photographed his own footprints as part of his research on the soil mechanics of the moon, but one of the images will become a landmark work.
On the occasion of celebrating the 50th anniversary of this human feat in 2019, scientists from the National University of Río Negro (United Nations RN) And the National Science and Technology Research Council (Connet) I took a precise look at the first footprints left by the astronauts from Argentina, and asked myself a question: What substrate were they printed on? Do they have anything special about the people who leave them? Will they keep it forever?
A study just published in the journal raises these and other questions Earth science reviewAlthough Neil Armstrong himself provided some answers when he landed on the moon: “The surface is smooth and dusty. I can lift it with my feet. It adheres to the soles of boots and shoes as thinly as charcoal powder. Noodles. I only sank a fraction of an inch, maybe only an eighth (1 inch = 2.54 cm), but I can see marks and marks on the small particles on the boots.”
One of the authors of this work, Ignacio Diaz Martinez, Spanish geologists from UNRN and CONICET said: “The first question we asked ourselves was closely related to the science the author contributed: Technology, Used to study the traces, traces or signs of activity left by living organisms in the substrate (sediment or rock). We mainly study the footprints of vertebrates, especially the footprints of dinosaurs and mammals. Therefore, the initial focus of this work was also put forward in a similar way.”
In this case, although the lunar environment is very different from the earth’s environment due to the lack of atmosphere, magnetic field, water, organic matter and life, scientists have discovered three iconic analogies between our planet and its satellites.
First, process the traces on the surface of the moon Settling speed is very slowSimilar to what happens in the deep sea or caves and other terrestrial environments.
on the other hand, Physical and mechanical properties They allow us to compare the processes that lead to the formation of traces or traces left by animals in volcanic ash sediments and the processes that act on soil and lunar boulders.
Finally, they were also identified Cultural similarity Between human footprints on the moon and those left by members of similar human expeditions, such as the first footprints to reach Antarctica and the North Pole.
But in addition to these similarities, the researchers also realized that the study of human footprints on the surface of the moon opened up areas they had never thought of, which was related to the nature of the surface of the moon. Homo sapiens:”the following More philosophical thinkingAre our footprints and even all the cultural relics left on the moon part of it? Expression of human behavior“Díaz Martínez said.
The author associates this question with “concepts”. Extended phenotype Proposed by the British ethnologist and popularist Richard Dawkins (Richard Dawkins), he believes that animal relics such as termite mounds or beaver prey are also the phenotypic expression of genes in their environment. Although located 384,400 kilometers away, the traces and objects left by astronauts on the moon can also be regarded as an extended phenotype of our species.
Anthropocene, technology fossils and technology platforms
“In addition, this part of the work is also related to Anthropocene (The current unofficial geological era is characterized by the global impact of human activities), especially the Anthropocene beyond the earth,” the Spanish geologist emphasized.
He continued: “In this case, the artifacts manufactured by humans to achieve their goals will be called Technical Fossil (On the surface of the moon is the national flag, commemorative plaque, a religious book, golf, “lander” or Lander And other objects left here), we have proposed a new term for the traces these technical fossils will leave: tecnotrazas (For example, boot prints and drill holes made by astronauts)”.
Apollo 12 commander Charles Conrad (Charles Conrad) is next to the lander Surveyor 3 (an example of a technical fossil). / NASA, Alan L. Bean
Therefore, according to the researchers, these human footprints on the moon, as well as other footprints found on other celestial bodies or even in space, can be considered evidence of the expansion of the lunar phenotype. Homo sapiens And from the Anthropocene beyond the earth.
Extraterrestrial World Heritage
Finally, when looking for an analogy between the journey to the moon and other milestones of mankind (such as reaching the poles of the earth), the author discussed in his research whether the landing zone of the Apollo mission should become a world heritage.
The U.S. government recently passed a law (A small step in the protection of human heritage by space law) In order to protect the landing sites and cultural relics left by the Apollo 11 mission, and require future missions to the moon to respect them.
Díaz Martinez (Díaz Martínez) said: “This fact is important because the United States indirectly “takes over” this legacy, although in other respects, we still have not resolved this issue. Photogrammetric 3D model A part of the famous Buzz Aldrin (Buzz Aldrin) footprint can be used to protect this heritage. ”
To do this, three historical photos taken by Aldrin himself were used.In addition, the model Can be downloaded for free And used to reproduce the footprints of astronauts through a 3D printer.
Although some traces near the lunar module were blurred when the spacecraft took off, “The area where Aldrin photographed his footprints was not very close, so I think it has not been erased, although I do not rule out that the dust generated during takeoff may be Geologists speculate.
Perhaps in the future, it may be possible to fly over or observe the scene closely without making changes to see the operation of the technology fossil and technology platform. At the same time, a manned Artemis mission is planned to reach the moon again in 2024. This is the first time a woman has set foot on the moon.
Ignacio Díaz-Martínez, Carlos Cónsole-Gonella, Paolo Citton and Silvina de Valais. “Half a century after the first footprint on the surface of the moon: the era of the moon’s footsteps.” Earth science review, 2021