Can you see objects left behind on the moon?
May 4, 2015
Unfortunately the answer to this question is no. Not even the most powerful telescopes ever made are able to see these objects. The flag on the moon is 125cm (4 feet) long. You would require a telescope around 200 meters in diameter to see it. The largest telescope now is the Keck Telescope in Hawaii at 10 meters in diameter. Even the Hubble Space telescope is only 2.4 meters in diameter. Resolving the lunar rover, which is 3.1 meters in length, would require a telescope 75 meters in diameter. So our backyard 6 inch and 8 inch telescopes are not even going to come close!
Why does the flag look like its waiving in the "wind"?
Obviously there is no "wind" for the flag to fly in. Getting a flag to "fly" on the moon was actually started as a top-secret project mandated by Congress in the spring of 1969. Flying a flag on the moon was a complicated issue. First NASA officials had to get passed a United Nations treaty that bans the national appropriation of outer space or any celestial bodies. The United States would not and could not claim the moon as US territory. Raising a flag on the moon could be taken the wrong way in the eyes of the rest of the world. The raising of the flag would be a symbol of our nations goal that began with President John F Kennedy's pledge to Congress on May 26 th 1961:
"I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long range exploration of space, and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish."
There was also the issue of where to put the flag on the lunar module to protect it from the elements. A gentleman named Tom Moser, a young design engineer at Johnson Space Center, was given the task. Moser developed a collapsible flagpole with a telescoping horizontal rod sewn into a seam on the top of the flag to extend it outward. The flag was brought to the moon in a heat resistant tube attached to the ladder of the lunar module. The flag is rumored to have been purchased at Sears but is not confirmed.
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin recalled what happened when they tried to set up the flag: "It took both of us to set it up and it was nearly a public relations disaster, " he wrote, "a small telescoping arm was attached to the flagpole to keep the flag extended and perpendicular. As hard as we tried, the telescope wouldn't fully extend. Thus the flag which should have been flat had its own permanent wave"
Is the flag still standing?
The answer to this question is not known. It is uncertain if the flag remained standing or was blown over by the engine blast when the ascent module took off to return the crew back to Earth. The lunar surface was barely holding the flag upright enough to begin with, it is unlikely that the flag is still upright.