Apollo astronaut left hidden message on the moon

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This NASA file image, dated July 20, 1969, shows one of the first footprints of Apollo 11 astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin on the moon. The Apollo 11 crew consisted of astronauts Neil Armstrong, who was the Mission Commander and the first man to step on the moon, Aldrin, who was the Lunar Module Pilot, and Michael Collins, who was the Command Module pilot. Apollo 11, launched forty years ago today on July 16, 1969, was the first manned mission to land on the moon. Reuters/NASA/Handout

From the breathtaking impression of footsteps on the lunar soil to the dazzling arc of the earth from the moon’s horizon, NASA’s Apollo program has produced iconic images for the world to cherish. Now, Apollo 16 astronaut Charles Duke has made a fascinating revelation about his moon landing. When Duke took his first steps on the surface of the moon on April 20, 1972, he left a picture of his family – his wife, two sons and himself, with a written message, and it remains to be seen on the natural satellite.

The message, "This is the family of astronaut Charlie Duke from planet Earth who landed on the moon on April 20, 1972," echoes the “human side of space exploration,” Duke told Business Insider. “I'd always planned to leave it on the moon, so when I dropped it, it was just to show the kids that I really did leave it on the moon.”

A number of famous photo books, as well as the NASA website, have featured the extraordinary image – the visage of a happy human family of four against the bleak landscape of the moon. During his training for the Apollo program, Duke spent the larger part of his time in Florida, while his family lived in Houston. This resulted in the kids getting to see very little of their father in his training days.

“So, just to get the kids excited about what dad was going to do, I said 'Would y'all like to go to the moon with me?’” Duke shared. “We can take a picture of the family and so the whole family can go to the moon.”

Over 43 years since the moon landing in 1972, his footsteps on lunar soil would be relatively unchanged. However, the photograph would not be in good condition. He says that the lunar temperature increases up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit in the landing area and drops to nearly zero at night, leaving very slim chances for the photo to be in good shape.

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