NASA successfully landed two astronauts on the surface of the Moon on July 20, 1969. The goal of Apollo 11 was to safely fly to the Moon and back while performing a touch down in the Moon’s Sea Tranquility. The Moon landing was led by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin while a third crewmate, pilot Michael Collins, stayed in lunar orbit. But the Moon landing had a secondary and less talked about objective and that was to find evidence of alien life on the lunar orb.
Now, as the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing approaches, NASA has released from its vaults incredible video footage of scientists analysing lunar samples for extraterrestrial microbes.
The US space agency said: “NASA has released rare, never-before-seen footage of researchers looking for signs of life in the samples brought back by the Apollo 11 astronauts in 1969.
“The footage shows biologists and chemists at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California working in a specially designed clean room and applying the most sophisticated analytical techniques of the time to search for life.
“Staff at Ames had been searching the centre’s archives for unique Apollo artefacts to showcase as the agency prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon landing on July 20.”
Moon landing: NASA has released incredible new footage from the Apollo programme
Moon landing: Apollo 11 rock samples were analysed for evidence of alien life
The rare footage was recorded in 16mm film format and carefully digitised just in time for the 50th Apollo anniversary.
When NASA’s astronauts landed on the Moon in the summer of 1969 there was some concern for Armstrong and Aldrin’s health.
In the event of unknown bugs and pathogens lurking on the Moon, the two astounds could have carried a disease back with them to Earth.
At the same time, after rendezvousing with Collins in the Columbia Command Module, the three men would cross-contaminate one another on the way back home.
After their return to Earth on July 24, the Apollo 11 crew had to spend 21 days in airtight quarantine because of this concern.
NASA has released rare, never-before-seen footage of researchers looking for signs of life
Thankfully, NASA found no evidence of any alien pathogens or microbes on the Moon.
As such, the quarantine measures were discontinued with the Apollo 14 lunar landing.
Caye Johnson, a biologist fro NASA’s Ames, said: “We were really concerned about contaminating the samples with our own bacteria.
“We had to be careful that we didn’t introduce a microbe into the samples and then falsely say that we’d found life.”
Between 1969 and 1972, NASA’s Apollo programme landed a total of 12 men on the Moon.
The astronauts were Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, Pete Conrad and Alan Bean, Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell, David Scott and James Irwin, John Young and Charles Duke and Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt.
NASA said: “NASA and its lead centre for astrobiology continue the compelling quest to find life beyond Earth so that we may one day answer that most profound human question: Are we alone?
“Under the Artemis mission, NASA is once again going to the Moon so that we may make the next giant leap to Mars, where we have a much more promising chance of one day discovering life on another world.”
Moon landing: NASA found no evidence of alien life on the Moon
Moon landing timeline: Detailed look back at the Apollo 11 Moon landing
Five facts about the 1969 Moon landing:
1. Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Richard Nixon.
2. The Apollo 11 astronauts brought back many examples of Moon rock, which they had to declare at customs upon return.
3. Apollo 11 blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on July 16, 1969.
4. NASA’s Apollo 11 crew spent eight days in space on their historic voyage.
5. Apollo 11 returned to Earth and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on July 24, 1969.