It’s recently come to our attention that there is a small sculpture, a three-and-a-half-inch carved aluminum figure called Fallen Astronaut, a piece by Paul van Hoeydonck, sitting on the surface of the moon. As remarkable as the many celestial bodies are floating out there in space, this one strikes us as particularly noteworthy—if only for the recently uncovered story behind the incredible work of art.

Slate Magazine published last week an incredible expose on the artwork, revealing how the piece caused an international (or perhaps galactic) scandal upon its placement on the moon in 1971. Alongside a plaque commemorating 14 deceased NASA and USSR astronauts, Fallen Astronaut sits in a crater near the Hadley-Apennine moon-landing site, the location of NASA’s fourth successful expedition to the satellite.

We won’t spoil the story’s more intricate details for you—Slate does an amazing job of putting together the pieces—but there are a couple shots of the cosmic artwork above. 

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[via Designboom]