Apollo 12 splashed down on earth after visiting the moon, on this day in 1969.
It was the second mission to land people on the moon, but it made lots of firsts:
- The first moon mission to create an artificial earthquake on the moon (for seismological purposes, of course);
- The first to be struck by lightning during launch – twice!
- The first to accidentally point its TV camera at the sun, breaking it
- The first not to include Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin or Michael Collins.
And if the stories are true, it was the first Apollo mission to bring art to the surface of the moon.
Back in the 1960s the sculptor Forrest Myers thought that if we’re sending people to the moon and planting flags on its surface, why couldn’t we also bring some art?
He’s one of six artists who contributed small black and white line drawings to a small ceramic tile, three quarters of an inch long by half an inch wide.
There were a number of these tiny tiles made, and Myers proposed that NASA include one on one of the Apollo missions, but he said the agency didn’t give him an answer.
So he went through, shall we say, unofficial means to hand one of the tiles to an as-of-yet unidentified individual connected to the mission.
All we know is, in November 1969, Myers got a telegram that said “YOUR ON A.O.K. ALL SYSTEMS GO,” signed “JOHN F.”
In other words, the tile was on board, and since part of Apollo 12 is still on the moon, the tile is there, too, though of course we don’t know for sure it’s there.
So far the only people who could have verified it were the Apollo 12 crew, and they were busy doing other things.
Most of us aren’t going to head to see The Moon Museum (that’s the official title of the very tiny gallery) anytime soon, but maybe instead we can stop by the Florida Keys History of Diving Museum, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year.
It includes artifacts from the history of underwater exploration, like the Parade of Nations, 25 hard-hat diving helmets from around the world.
The Most Exclusive Museum in the World is on the Moon (Interesting Engineering)
Florida Keys’ History of Diving Museum Offers Virtual and In-Person Learning (Florida Keys and Key West)