The moon may be devoid of humans (at least for now), but there is plenty of humanity to be found strewn across the lunar surface. A new website catalogs the human heritage items that were left behind on the moon, for posterity and for the public to reference.
The Moon Registry, presented by For All Moonkind, celebrates the sites and hardware that can now be found on Earth's natural satellite. The free resource provides overviews of every robotic and human mission that made contact with the moon, including details on the objects related to those excursions that also remain there today — from commemorative medallions and flags to rovers and scientific experiments.
"The history of humans on the moon belongs to everyone on Earth," Michelle Hanlon, co-founder of For All Moonkind, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting human heritage in space, said in a statement. "We are working to obtain international recognition and protection for sites in space that have universal historic value. As part of that effort, we want to make sure the details of humanity's incredible journey to space — past, present and future — are accessible to all."
Launched on Thursday (March 11), the For All Moonkind Moon Registry contains entries for both robotic and crewed missions to the moon dating back more than 50 years. Each record has a brief description and photographs about the mission, as well can a section for related items.
For example, each of the Apollo moon landings has an entry for the lunar module descent stage that brought the astronauts to the surface, as well as an area to list the individual equipment and mementos that the crew members left behind.
"Visiting the moon was an incredible privilege and experience," said Apollo 16 lunar module pilot Charlie Duke, the tenth person to walk on the moon. "I can't wait for someone to go back and find the picture of my family that I left behind. In the meantime, the For All Moonkind Moon Registry is a spectacular resource. It's one small way to share this accomplishment of humanity with humanity."
A work in process, the Moon Registry invites crowdsourcing to correct any errors, contribute technical details and provide information regarding future missions. The site is also collecting personal stories from the people who made contributions to space exploration and, specifically, the flights to the moon.
"An interactive registry for all the material on the moon introduced by human activity is a worthy cause, without a doubt," said Apollo 17 astronaut and geologist Harrison Schmitt, who flew on the last Apollo mission to land humans on the lunar surface in 1972.
Designed by creative director Bernie Hogya, the Moon Registry is initially intended to serve as an educational resource and outreach tool for For All Moonkind. The platform, however, can also support a variety of services for historians, engineers, archaeologists and future lunar enterprises.
"When you consider how important history is as a compass for our future, it's shocking to realize how inaccessible it is," said James Hansen, historian and the author of "First Man," the authorized biography of astronaut Neil Armstrong. "The For All Moonkind Moon Registry is like an all-access pass to the history of human activity on the moon."
"Even better, the crowdsourcing function will allow the people who worked on missions like Luna and Apollo to connect directly with the very students who will be inspired by their work to develop innovative solutions we cannot yet even comprehend," said Hansen.
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Robert Pearlman is a space historian, journalist and the founder and editor of collectSPACE.com, an online publication and community devoted to space history with a particular focus on how and where space exploration intersects with pop culture. Pearlman is also a contributing writer for Space.com and co-author of "Space Stations: The Art, Science, and Reality of Working in Space” published by Smithsonian Books in 2018. He previously developed online content for the National Space Society and Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, helped establish the space tourism company Space Adventures and currently serves on the History Committee of the American Astronautical Society, the advisory committee for The Mars Generation and leadership board of For All Moonkind. In 2009, he was inducted into the U.S. Space Camp Hall of Fame in Huntsville, Alabama. In 2021, he was honored by the American Astronautical Society with the Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History.