While 3-D scanning the Columbia command module used by the Apollo 11 astronauts to splash down back on Earth, researchers found some amazing artifacts: graffiti markings. These haven’t been seen for almost 50 years and include notes, figures and calendars written by the astronauts during the first ever manned flight to the moon. The scanning project is a joint venture between the National Air and Space Museum and the Smithsonian’s 3D Digitization Program.
“As curator of what is arguably one of the most iconic artifacts in the entire Smithsonian collection, it’s thrilling to know that we can still learn new things about Columbia,” said Allan Needell, curator of space history at the museum. “This isn’t just a piece of machinery, it’s a living artifact.”
The two museums had to overcome many challenges to ultimately 3-D scan the whole command module. Thanks to their efforts we now have a high-resolution interactive model of the entire spacecraft which will soon be released to the public. The model will be available in June on 3d.si.edu and used to produce an interactive display in the museum’s exhibition “Destination Moon,” scheduled to open in 2020.
Tibi is a science journalist and co-founder of ZME Science. He writes mainly about emerging tech, physics, climate, and space. In his spare time, Tibi likes to make weird music on his computer and groom felines.