Although the main goal of going to the Moon was simply being the first to get there, the Apollo 11 mission did have several experiments on the agenda as well. Observing that Eagle had descended into a field filled with boulders and pocked by small craters, Armstrong commented that the lunar landscape "has a stark beauty all its own. It's like much of the high desert of the United States."
In the midst of televised broadcasts, planting flags and conversations with the White House, the astronauts collected rock and soil samples. Aldrin suspended a sheet of aluminum foil from a telescoped pole in an attempt to collect particles of "solar wind" for analysis. Armstrong used tongs and a scoop to fill two specimen boxes with rocks and soil. Aldrin also set up two devices that were left behind: a seismic detector to record moonquakes, meteorite impacts or volcanic eruptions and a laser-reflector, designed to make precise measurements of Earth-Moon distances.
After spending some 21 hours on the Moon, the astronauts returned to Earth with more than 45 pounds of samples that have been studied ever since. The legacy of Apollo 11 is a number of important insights into the nature of the Moon and the cosmos.
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