A Highlight of Swiss Space Research

Based on NASA’s official “Mission Patches”, the anniversary is commemorated with a celebratory signet. Photo: University of Bern
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The moon landing 50 years ago represented a first highlight in space research at the University of Bern. Swissmint is marking this anniversary by issuing a 20-franc silver commemorative coin. The image on the coin was first created as a pencil drawing by Swissmint engraver Remo Mascherini and then digitally revised.

 

Switzerland / 20 Swiss francs / .835 silver / 20 g / 33 mm / Design: Remo Mascherini / Mintage: 20,000 (uncirc.), 5,000 (proof).

 

 

Aldrin and Neil Armstrong were the first humans to step onto the moon’s surface with the Apollo 11 mission on 21 July 1969. Before the astronaut “Buzz” Aldrin hoisted the American flag on the moon almost 50 years ago, he first hung up a Swiss solar sail. This so-called solar wind sail of the University of Bern was the only non-American experiment on board the Apollo 11.

Astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin unrolls the solar wind sail of the University of Bern. Photo: NASA Apollo Image Archive.

The “Solar Wind Composition Experiment” was developed by the Bernese physicists under the leadership of Professor Johannes Geiss of the Institute of Physics to verify the existence of the solar wind that was suspected at the time but could not be measured from earth. The simplicity and low weight of the solar sail had convinced NASA: it was made of a differently coated aluminium foil measuring 140 x 30cm, which was oriented as directly as possible into the sun to capture any solar wind particles. The foil was then analysed in the labora-tory after returning from the moon. The simple, lightweight and successful experiment was repeated on all lunar missions except the last Apollo 17 mission and the failed Apollo 13 mission.

The commemorative coin is available at the Swissmint online shop as well as at selected coin dealers and banks.

A science festival in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing will take place in Bern from June 27th through June 30th, 2019. More information will be available in due time on the University of Bern website.

NASA, too, offers additional information about the solar wind sail from Bern.

You can watch the first clips of Armstrong and Aldrin on the moon in this video: