How Long Will Those Boot Prints Remain On The Moon?

One of humanity's greatest achievements in the 20th century was the Apollo program, which put a dozen men on the moon and successfully returned them home to Earth. An iconic image to come from our species' first foray to the final frontier is one of the bootprints of the Apollo astronauts spread across the moon. The 12 pairs of footsteps are a testament to humanity's determination to explore and reach new heights, but how long will that testament last?

According to Space, anyone worried about losing the most famous footprints in history can breathe a sigh of relief. Due to the lack of a lunar atmosphere — along with a dearth of water and volcanoes — the boot prints of Neil Armstrong and company could potentially last as long as the moon itself. Indeed, the biggest threat to the longevity of these lunar leave-behinds are meteorites and the return of humans in the decades or centuries to come.

A lack of erosion will preserve the boot prints indefinitely

The lunar boot prints are not subjected to the winds and breezes that gently wipe away footprints here on Earth. Instead, they sit calmly in the vacuum of space (via Business Insider). And they aren't at risk of disappearing through water erosion since that requires running water, which doesn't exist on Earth's lunar companion. There's no volcanic activity on the moon either, so the lunar surface will remain unchanged on that front.

The only way the moon's landscape really changes is through solar wind and meteor strikes. The former comes from charged particles shot out from the sun, which create erosion similar to that on Earth, but via an extremely slow process. Meteorites are a far more likely boot print killer, as the moon is constantly bombarded by flying space rocks due to its lack of atmosphere. An ill-placed meteor could take out an astronaut's footprints and maybe already has. Still, the odds of a direct hit are low, meaning these small steps for man and giant leaps for mankind will likely be preserved for millennia.