Date and time: 2 May 2012
Written by: Mike Bodnar, Crew 118, First Officer
Conspiracy theorists still cling to the belief that the whole Apollo moon landing programme was staged because they claim the Stars and Stripes 'fluttered' on the airless moon, and that it couldn't possibly have flown anyway without air.
They conveniently ignore the fact that the flag was spring-loaded so it would "fly" and that any fluttering was probably the flag or pole repositioning itself after deployment.
No such theories will - excuse the pun - hold water on Mars. The Red Planet does have an atmosphere (largely carbon dioxide) and, although of extremely low pressure, winds also blow. So flying a flag is a distinct possibility.
We have flown our own flags on our own Mars here since landing, though due to a lack of flagpole (the one on top of the Hab is occupied by the red, green and blue Mars flag) we have had ours indoors most of the time, except for photo opportunities.
Thanks to Flagmakers of Thorndon, Wellington, we were able to bring a New Zealand flag plus a quirky spirited Kiwi flag to unfurl in our own Martian landscape, and today we finally got around to taking photos of the flags on the Martian surface, which is only right. Not that we are claiming any territory or sovereignty, it's just a nice way of saying hey, look at us! We made it!
Our two Trans-Tasman crew mates Don and Annalea decided that they should have brought a 'first people' flag in acknowledgement of the Aboriginal people who pre-dated Europeans in Australia by thousands of years. So they painted one instead, and it has been on the wall of the Hab recreation area since early in the mission.
Don even went to some trouble to create a combined First People and Australian fag for their flight suits.
Bruce Ngataierua painted the Maori flag in acknowledgement of his whakapapa, and Haritina did likewise to acknowledge her birthplace, Romania.
The flags have meaning, they look good and they add a degree of pride.
Conspiracy theorists need not comment.