In the 200,000-year history of Homo sapiens, our species has accomplished some pretty amazing things. We invented the wheel, the printing press, and Velcro, and determined how stars shine and the cosmos began. But arguably the coolest thing we’ve done happened July 20, 1969, when American astronaut Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon and humans could, for the first time, claim a second world as home. Even though more than half of the human population alive today did not experience the moment firsthand, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” still resonates across nearly half a century of the space-time continuum.
After Armstrong stepped off the lunar module Eagle, he and his Apollo 11 crewmate Buzz Aldrini set about the more mundane tasks of deploying scientific instruments, collecting samples to return to Earth, and planting an American flag. Many of these artifacts will endure on the lunar surface as long as Homo sapiens can survive on its first home. In this image, Armstrong is about to set foot for the first time on the surface of the Moon.