On 8 June I posted the fabulous NASA photo of Endeavor docked to the International Space Station — the last such image that would ever be taken. Today I learned the dark side of that photo: the Nikon that took it, along with two others, were left to burn up on reentry. From the (rather snarky) Iconic Photos post:
The honor was given to the Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli who was leaving the ISS with Soyuz [the Russian space capsule now used by NASA astronauts]. Cape Canaveral and Moscow also agreed to rotate the ISS 130 degrees to give Nespoli the full view. However, Soyuz allows no extra weight aboard the descent module. After taking out the SD cards, Nespoli left $20,000 worth of cameras in the orbital module, which destructs in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Twenty thousand dollars worth of Nikon gear, vaporized! It’s enough to make a photographer cry. But it turns out those Nikons aren’t the only martyrs to the cause. After noting a reference in the same blog entry to Hasselblad cameras being left on the Moon, I went straight to the source, where I found the following photo and text:
This is a specially designed version of the motorized 500EL intended for use on the surface of the moon, where the first lunar pictures were taken on 20 July 1969 by Neil Armstrong. The camera is equipped with a specially designed Biogon lens with a focal length of 60 mm, with a polarization filter mounted on the lens. A glass plate (Reseau-Plate), provided with reference crosses which are recorded on the film during exposure, is in contact with the film, and these crosses can be seen on all the pictures taken on the moon from 1969 to 1972. The 12 HEDC cameras used on the surface of the moon were left there. Only the film magazines were brought back.
(Emphasis mine.) The cameras were left behind to make room for moon rocks, which were priceless in terms of scientific value. And while that does make sense to me, I’m left with one overwhelming fact.
There are twelve Hasselblad EDC cameras sitting on the Moon!
I will never look at our Moon in quite the same way again.