I’ve just been alerted to the fact that today, July 20, is Moon Day, the anniversary of the first lunar landing in 1969. I was too young to have any memory of it, but can only imagine how exciting it must have been, with the whole world joined together watching. I wonder if we’ll see the equal of that moment in our lifetimes? I think it’s hard for kids today to imagine what a big deal that was.
While researching 101 Things You Gotta Do Before You’re 12, I somehow discovered moon trees, an often forgotten part of space history. Astronauts were allowed to take a few personal items with them on their flights, and Stuart Roosa, a former forest service employee, took seeds: redwood, sycamore, Douglas fir, loblolly, and sweet gum. When he came back, he donated them to the forest service. Scientists wondered if the seeds would be viable or if, as a result of having been in outer space, there would be any strange mutations in the trees that grew from them. They grew normally, and in honor of the bicenntenial, they were distributed around the US to be planted.
Unfortunately, no one kept good records, so it’s not clear where all the trees went. NASA has a list of the trees they know about, some of which are in public places and can be visited, like the cone at Goodard Air Force Base in Maryland and one at the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis. Finding a moon tree can be a great challenge for kids. Here’s some more information about the trees. I had no idea we had a moon tree right down the street from us at the Asheville Botanical Garden. We’re going to go check it out today!