At the abandoned campsite, occupied for less than a day, the visitors left much behind: a section of the ship that carried them on this first-of-its-kind voyage and sophisticated tools for measuring seismic rumblings, solar wind, and the precise distance between this spot and home. There are simpler things as well—scoops and scales, canisters and brackets, two pairs of boots. The expendable trash of a successful mission, too heavy to carry home, lies exactly where it was tossed.
On the Earth-facing side of the moon 48 years later, undisturbed by wind or water, development or war, Tranquility Base is still tranquil.
“It’s like an archaeologist’s dream,” says Beth O’Leary, of New Mexico State University, one of several preservationists who consider this pristine time capsule as deserving of protection as any archaeological site on Earth.