A picture of a photograph: the family photo that Charlie Duke left on the Moon on April 23, 1972. (NASA)

The Family that Went to the Moon

24 Apr , 2012 by

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Well, the family photo, anyway.

On April 23, 1972, Apollo 16 astronauts Charlie Duke and John Young embarked on the third and final EVA of the mission, exploring the Descartes Highlands via Lunar Roving Vehicle. During the EVA, before setting up a Solar Wind Collector, Duke placed a small family photo he had brought along onto the lunar surface and snapped a few photos of  it with his Hasselblad film camera. This is one of the photos.

The portrait shows Charlie, his wife Dorothy, and their two sons Charles and Thomas. It looks like they are sitting on a bench in the summertime.

The family photo, gingerly wrapped in clear plastic and slightly crumpled from being stashed in the pocket of a space suit, was left on the Moon. It presumably still sits there today, just inches away from Charlie’s boot print — which, presumably, is also there.

The Duke family photo.

At the time of this writing it’s been exactly 40 years to the day that this photo was taken.

Image: NASA/JSC scan

I came across this image while looking through the Project Apollo Image Archive for some relevant images from the Apollo 16 mission. Amid scans of Hasselblad photos showing lunar samples, experiments and scenes from LRV jaunts, which are all fascinating in their own right, I came across this poignant image and couldn’t resist sharing it. To know that a family photo is resting upon the surface of another world is nothing short of amazing… while the missions to the Moon were a testament to human endeavor, it’s small things like this that remind us of the people that made it all possible.

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Pamela Thompsom
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Pamela Thompsom
April 24, 2012 1:18 AM

That is so awesome what a great reminder of who was there in the begining

postman1
Member
postman1
April 24, 2012 2:52 AM

Trash on the Moon! Now we have to go back and clean up the mess!

squidgeny
Member
squidgeny
April 24, 2012 10:32 AM

The moon’s in need of a good dusting, too

Jeff Boerst
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Jeff Boerst
April 24, 2012 7:50 PM

We should all just giant build space-elevators to carry all of our collective refuse high enough to make it cost effective to then just launch it all at the moon. I suggest all aiming at the forward rotating side so we could actually speed up it’s rotation so that after a few centuries we could evenly cover the entire surface… Then use telescopes to render detail images at various resolutions and see if any of it is reminiscent of Jackson Pollack’s work…

Jet
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Jet
April 26, 2012 8:41 PM

I hope you don’t mean this. This is the most ignorant of comments, I’ve seen in a long time on a blog. Speed up the moon’s rotation? We as humans do not have that capability…. regardless if we DID have the techonology to send all of our junk there. I hope that tech never happens. what a shame our planet would have to be in…to suggest sending all of our junk there?

kkt
Member
kkt
April 24, 2012 8:43 PM

They’d be too likely to get hit by meteors. Salt mines would be a better bet.

Steve Rollins
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Steve Rollins
April 24, 2012 3:09 AM

Wonder how long it will be before someone sees that in person again. Another half-century perhaps?

I don’t imagine the image has lasted.

Kevin Frushour
Guest
April 24, 2012 5:42 AM

Yeah. I’m pretty sure the image is long-faded.

Spartacus Skull Bones
Guest
April 24, 2012 4:18 AM

If at moon surface during the day temperature gets to 100 degrees celsius, this would burn almost at once. Is that plastic burn proof?

Nexus
Member
April 24, 2012 5:01 AM

Burning, as we understand it, requires oxygen and there’s none of that on the Moon. There will almost certainly have been significant chemical reactions caused by radiation and heat in the absence of any atmosphere, but I have no idea what that would do to the photo.

Nexus
Member
April 24, 2012 5:01 AM

Burning, as we understand it, requires oxygen and there’s none of that on the Moon. There will almost certainly have been significant chemical reactions caused by radiation and heat in the absence of any atmosphere, but I have no idea what that would do to the photo.

NoAstronomer
Member
NoAstronomer
April 24, 2012 12:29 PM

Besides what Grimbold said, it would take temperatures much higher than 100C to burn plastic. 100C is the boiling point of water, I don’t see boil-in-the-bag foods bursting into flames.

NoAstronomer
Member
NoAstronomer
April 24, 2012 12:29 PM

Besides what Grimbold said, it would take temperatures much higher than 100C to burn plastic. 100C is the boiling point of water, I don’t see boil-in-the-bag foods bursting into flames.

skipdallas
Member
skipdallas
April 24, 2012 1:41 PM

Of course not! The water would extinguish the flames! smile

Thomas Houck
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April 24, 2012 4:22 PM

No air no burn…..

Surak
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Surak
April 24, 2012 9:39 PM

To quote Phil Plait (and to contradict his DBaD policy) … The Stupid! … It Burns!

Prism2Spectrum
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Prism2Spectrum
April 24, 2012 9:18 AM

Scanning Wikipedia entry on Mr Duke’s life, it was interesting to read that after visiting “the surface of another world”, he turned to the spiritual dimension, and became a Christian. His epic Apollo 16 moment must have left a deep impress on his mind — and heart.
(How could any Astronaut — human being — come back from the Moon unchanged, in some profound way). Seeing the “good Earth” suspended in the deepest blackness of unending Space (real time, three dimensionally, living-breathing it), must be, well, an experience beyond words!

What that faded, Sun-blasted humble-little photo represents is more beautiful than anything in the entire Solar System!

DannyNye
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DannyNye
April 24, 2012 10:43 AM

Great idea Charlie Duke. It matters not at all that it might have faded. He did it and took a photo of it. These aren’t trash, they left artifacts for another civilization to find when people go back to the moon in a thousand years or so.

skipdallas
Member
skipdallas
April 24, 2012 1:38 PM

If he left this photo in that position, it will have by now faded beyond recognition. Due to the sunlight that is unfiltered by any atmosphere. And after an eon or so it will probably be damaged by micro-meteorites too.
What a feeling though: For him to be able to look up to the moon and say,”There is a picture of my family up there, and I put it there!”

TimWebb
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TimWebb
April 24, 2012 6:21 PM
http://www.fountainsofthegreatdeep.com/MrLEM.htm Sorry to spoil the party, but as the subscript to the first photo strongly implies, “Nobody has been to the Moon”. Maybe you missed that, it was done quite subtly. Read the link I have given you, and tell me if YOU would even go to the mall in that thing, let alone 234,000 miles each way to the moon. Note the painted on needle on one of the instruments, and the high-tech on/off switches that were used to land and take off . And did anybody notice that as the LEM lifted off the moon, the camera filming it elevated upwards to follow it ? Who did they leave behind to do the filming ? And… Read more »
Bruce Thompson
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April 24, 2012 11:25 PM
Thank you for a link to a most amusing piece of … whatever it was – I would hesitate to call it intelligent, or even original, writing. I have spent the last thirty years reading over and again pretty much every word that was contained in that link. You wondered who filmed the lift-off from the Moon. The video camera was mounted on the Lunar Rover and was remote-controlled from Mission Control by Ed Fendell. This capability had been included in the Lunar Rover cameras so that the astronauts didn’t have to worry about operating the cameras – they already had enough to do. As for where did they “stick” the “Moon Buggy”, presumably in the Lunar Module… Read more »
TimWebb
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TimWebb
April 25, 2012 6:39 AM
Bruce. We should have a chat about this. But everything you say is simply rote repetition of Standard Mode NASA-speak. You want me to be grateful that these frauds have deceived everybody, yourself included. I am not. I am astonished, but not grateful. The interview I watched was with Mitchell, altho’ I have seen the Aldrin one too, and was not very impressed. On leaving his house, the interviewer was threatened by an unseen male associate of Mitchell, who asked the former if he should get the FBI to “waste him”, as I recall. Not very illuminating or inspirational. My feeling is that anyone who had done the things claimed would not involve themselves with defending their exploits,… Read more »
Bruce Thompson
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April 26, 2012 12:51 AM
“Rote”… You have a way with words that very likely leaves the lesser intellects with whom you “chat” completely un-mired in admiration at the way you put those words together – particularly when you resort to personal abuse, no matter how obliquely phrased, when you encounter a different world-view to yours. Everything you have written about the Lunar Module displays your encyclopedic ignorance of the subject and I earnestly recommend that you consult the numerous on-line sources that can help you fill this extensive gap in your knowledge. Not all of these sources are NASA-sponsored, but are written by people who have a clear view of the world. I have found, over the years, when discussing the Apollo… Read more »
Jet
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Jet
April 26, 2012 8:59 PM
You are a moron! Just because you donot believe, does not mean it did not occur. The techonology to send men to the moon in the 60’s was one of the brighter spots in American history. There are skeptics, just as their are about the existence of God. Even some people believe they will never die, but hey, Bruce they will. Its your choice to believe or not, but that does not make it so. You and those who think like you are so narrow-minded. Who are you to debunked all that occurred? It matters nothing at all, rather you believe in the Moon-landinds or not, WE DO! So, maybe that makes us suckers,,, but what does it… Read more »
Tom Smith
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April 27, 2012 5:53 PM

Really love your link that goes into great detail about how thin the LEM skin is, how weak the door is, and how ultra high the vacuum is. Tell us, O knowledgeable one, what exactly is required to keep out the insanely super mega uber vacuum of deep space?

morphics
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April 25, 2012 1:08 PM
Jet
Guest
Jet
April 26, 2012 9:26 PM

Don’t know what your intentions were by posting this silly, sick site to this story. But, to me, it just shows how far skeptics will go to try to convince one to think or view things as he/she do. I could not fathom a reason for NASA faking all of those missions. What did they really have to gain by faking them? Most of those who don’t believe… I’ve found out, were born after 1969. How ironic?

morphics
Guest
April 27, 2012 12:28 AM

I’m guessing that your comment was aimed at TimWebb and his incoherent rambling website rather than my link to Bad Astronomy. If your comment was aimed at me, then I suggest you properly read what our good friend Phil Plait has to say by re-reading the link I posted.

Wakkierob Loopio
Guest
Wakkierob Loopio
April 24, 2012 6:45 PM

When are they gonna do the step that involves colonizing other planets that’s the biggy for me! lol
Or is it just another idea or promise that will never happen love the photo!

richardjjordan
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richardjjordan
April 24, 2012 3:59 PM

A “tribute” to what formally made Humans , worthy of exploration and survival !

Robbi Luscombe-Newman
Guest
April 24, 2012 11:38 PM

thats right, first litterbug ha ha…but nice sentiment. ..lots of memorablia to bring back one day..including Rovers and Hasselblad bodies

Matt Doyle
Guest
April 25, 2012 8:38 AM

Get your own family picture on the moon with this project http://www.messagetothemoon.com

Chris Combs
Guest
Chris Combs
April 25, 2012 2:01 PM

Nice find, Jason!

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