The first "flag" on the Moon? It was white and made-in-Switzerland

The first "flag" on the Moon? It was white and made-in-Switzerland

The “Solar Wind Composition Experiment” of the University of Bern made its debut before… the US flag in the hands of astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin

Lunar module pilot Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin deploys the Swiss solar wind compounding experiment
Lunar module pilot Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin deploys the Swiss solar wind compounding experiment

In the context of the conquest of the moon, an event that has indelibly marked the history of the nineteenth century starting from the fateful date of July 20, 1969, very few seem to remember an episode that restores to posterity the exceptional nature of the Swiss Confederation, world champion nation in field of innovation and Scientific studies.
The first "flag" unfurled on the surface of the large terrestrial satellite was in fact not the famous American "stars and stripes" deposited by Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin but a candid flag made-in-Switzerland. And this despite the fact that NASA and the US Government were obviously the main drivers of the mission

The lunar year kicked off Lamborghini's NFT projecte.

Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin salutes the U.S. flag on lunar soil on July 20, 1969
Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin salutes the U.S. flag on lunar soil on July 20, 1969

The "Solar Wind Composition Experiment" priority of Apollo 11

The team that worked on the "Solar Wind Composition Experiment", one of the experiments carried out by the crew of Apollo 11 on lunar soil, in fact belonged to the University of Bern.
The so-called “Solar Wind Composition Experiment,” involving the use of a flag-like instrument, was the first ever test carried out by astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin on the lunar surface.
The initiative was due to one researcher in particular, namely Johannes Geiss, the German physicist (born in Słupsk in present-day Poland, once the Stolp of Prussian Pomerania, on 4 September 1926) a naturalized Swiss who died on 30 January 2020.
Carried out by the University of Bern and the Swiss National Science Foundation, this experiment was both simple and highly scientific value.
It was one of the few tests to be carried on every expedition to the Moon until their abort on December 19, 1972 with the Apollo 17 mission, and it was the only non-American experiment to be part of the Apollo 11 scientific verification audience.

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The commemorative coin of the research conducted on the solar wind by the University of Bern issued in 2019 by swissmint
The commemorative coin of the research conducted on the solar wind by the University of Bern issued in 2019 by swissmint

Aluminum sheet of 1,4 meters by 30 centimeters facing the Sun

It consisted of a sheet of aluminum, measuring 1,4 meters by 30 centimeters, fixed to a pole facing the Sun.
Combining scientific topics and diplomacy, Johannes Geiss even managed to get NASA to deploy the Swiss solar sail before flying the American flag, to maximize the exposure time of the sheet.
Before the launch, someone had jokingly suggested sticking a Swiss flag inside the roll of film, so it would be the first man-made flag on the moon.
Professor Geiss, who had also worked on geochronology studies at the University of Chicago and the Universität Bern, had devised the experiment to study the continuous flow in space of charged particles from the Sun, called the "solar wind".
The experiment of the Bern research team has allowed the first measurements of the composition of the noble gases of the solar wind.
This data would help compose the often competing and divergent theories about the origins of the solar system, planetary atmospheres and the dynamics of the solar wind itself.

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Seventy-seven minutes of exposure of the plate to our Stella

The astronauts exposed the foil to the Sun for a total of 77 minutes by the Apollo 11 astronauts, allowing particles from the solar wind to become incorporated into the foil. The aluminum foil was then brought back to Earth to be analyzed in the laboratory.
This made it possible to determine the chemical composition of the particles incorporated in the measuring instrument more accurately than would have been possible if they had been measured remotely.
Johannes Geiss followed these experiments as well as many other innovative space tests, aimed at finding the composition of matter around the Sun, planets, comets and interstellar gas.
In addition to the famous experiments of the American Apollo missions, he was also part of the work team of ESA's Giotto project for its historic journey to encounter Comet Halley in 1986.
But he is probably best known as one of the fathers of the ESA/NASA Ulysses mission, and one of the leading researchers for the quality of the work and for the duration of the experiments.
In recent years, together with colleagues of the "Ulysses Solar Wind Ion Composition Experiment" he determined the isotopic and elemental composition of the solar wind in all the conditions in which it occurs as well as at all latitudes of the Sun.
His instruments have provided the most complete records of the solar wind as we know it to date.

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Johannes Geiss directed and founded the International Space Science Institute (ISSI) based in Bern
Johannes Geiss directed and founded the International Space Science Institute (ISSI) based in Bern

Johannes Geiss, a genius from Pomerania to the Swiss capital

Who was Johannes Geiss? He was among the protagonists of the definition of science policy of the European Space Agency and its current research program in the cosmos, and has successfully promoted international space missions such as Ulysses, SOHO and Cassini/Huygens.
He received his first PhD at the University of Goettingen in 1953, after which he enjoyed a long academic career at the University of Bern and held senior positions at universities and international institutions in the USA, France and Germany.
The Prussian-born physicist was one of the main architects of the space science program in Switzerland, but perhaps his most important contribution to the sector research he reached the end of his career with the creation and leadership of the International Space Science Institute (ISSI), based in Bern.

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Lunar module pilot Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin deploys the Swiss solar wind compounding experiment
Lunar module pilot Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin deploys the Swiss solar wind compounding experiment