WHERE ARE THE MOONROCKS? ---------------------- John Pazmino NYSkies Astronomy Inc email@example.com www.nyskies.org 2009 December 13 initial 2009 December 18 current
Introduction ---------- Year 2009 is the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 flight, landing on the Moon on July 20th of 1969. Many astronomy centers and musea held worthy Apollo shows. NYSkies, as example, convened the only public Apollo remembrance session 'Remembering Apollo' in July. Separately from the Apollo events, there was a walking tour of Manhattan's astronomy points of interest on 2009 November 22. It was hosted by Amateur Observers Society, Long island. Occasionally it brings its astronomers to the City to inspect and discuss places with an astronomy theme, as inspired by a special 2002 issue of Natural History magazine titled 'City of stars'. One of the stops on this tour is the United Nations headquarters, which has a Foucault pendulum, a Sputnik-1 satellite, and an Apollo moonrock. The Sputnik was routinely described by UN tour guides as the shell for a backup or second satellite with no guts inside. It in actuality is a replica of Sputnik, like the one exhibited for the movie 'Sputnik Mania' in 2007. The moonrock, once in a glass display case in the visitor lobby, was out of sight for the last several years. AOS made inquiries. At first the response from the UN was that the rock was being fixed up in some unspecified way. After a couple more years the reply was a ignorant 'What moonrock?' Linda Prince, AOS, and I, NYSkies, were deeply puzzled that so rare and precious an exhibit can go astray. After our inquiries at both UN and NASA, Ms Prince got the reply on 2009 December 7 that the rock is in storage because its glass display case was cracked. No one at the UN seemed to know how this happened but the rock was removed for safekeeping and is still in the UN premises. It is not certain if the display case will be repaired and the rock returned to exhibit. As I was asking around about the UN rock, some readers told me of other instances of missing moonrocks. At first I figured these were unusual and were in some way duly investigated and solved. Wrong.
Brief history ----------- After the first and final Apollo flights, the United States gave to other nations and US states a sample moonrock. The idea was that they were gifts to the whole people of the countries and states and that they would be accessible to the people in a safe and secure manner. Typicly this was a public display in a major museum. The Apollo 11 rocks were distributed in 1970; Apollo 17, 1973. Most countries and states got one from each flight. The rocks were pure gifts with no attachments or conditions. Each recipient handled the gift according to its own treatment of treasures and works of art. The Apollo 11 stones were a set of 4 grains of 50mg size set in Lucite on a wood plague. The plaque also had a small nylon flag of the recipient that was on board the Apollo 11 flight. Many were presented during the 'Giant step Apollo 11' tour by the astronauts to the heads of state, or their delegate. The rest were delivered after the tour, which could visit only a selection of all the countries of the world. The grains came from the pool of material returned by the flight. The Apollo 17 stones were slivered off of a particular rock returned by the Apollo 17 crew, specimen #70017. Astronaut Harrison Schmitt, via television from the Moon, wished that it be distributed in good will to all the people of the world. These stones, a single piece of about 1 gram size, are sometimes called 'Goodwill moon rocks'. They were mounted similarly to the Apollo 11 stones, under Lucite on a wood plaque. The affixed flag for each recipient was on the flight. Altho there was no stipulation for making the rocks constructively accessible it was assumed that they would be put in some honored place for public viewing. As can be supposed, many recipients just do not have a mature sense of handling such artifacts. As far as I could determine, NASA did not offer to the recipients any guidance, advice, instructions, assistance for curating the rocks. Once handed to an appropriate delegate from the recipient, the rock's fate was in the hands, litterally, of that recipient. NASA still hands out moonrocks to honor particular people, mostly astronauts and space scientists. These are the 'Ambassador of exploration' moonrocks that, unlike the national and state gifts, are NASA property, fully accounted. NASA no longer, since the Apollo 11 and Apollo 17 gifts, actually gives away any moonrocks.
Moonrocks at sale --------------- Overwhelmingly a moonrock advertised for sale is a fake, with intent to cheat the buyer. Sales are made thru print and Internet media. Often their provenance is undisclosed or fabricated. Because it is easy to hide the ultimate identity of the seller, a buyer who later finds his rock is a phony moonrock has no easy or direct recourse. A genuine moonrock comes onto the market from time to time, often chipped off of a larger piece like many meteorites are. However, unless the buyer has some expert guidance in assaying the rock or verifying its provenance, there is no telling what the rock is. Very few buyers ever saw a real moonrock, like in a museum, and will not recognize a fake on sight. An other genuine moonrock can be an earthly meteorite that is traced back to the Moon. The origin is revealed by the stone's chemical and physical match with conditions on the Moon. Because thee is a trickle of new finds of such meteorites, the supply is slowly replenished, giving a person a reasonable chance to own a sample. Other earthly meteorites come from Mars, asteroid Vesta, and asteroid 2008-TC3. I myself have a set of three such meteorites, from Moon, Mars, Vesta. 2008--TC3 didn't fall when I got this set. They and are mounted on a caption card in award-pin boxes. When I first showed them around, people tried to open the boxes! Well, they WERE boxes with [thankfuly glued] press on lids. I then placed the three boxes adjacently and wrapped them along the sides with masking tape. The tape concealed the lids and made a handy large single unit to show. A third real moonrock, in truly tiny grains, comes from the 300ish grams returned by Soviet landers of the Luna series. Many 'Giant step' and 'Goodwill' recipients simply did not have the competence to safeguard their gifts. Some may be stolen by a theft or simple taken home by past official of the recipient. It is the buyer who must beware such offered moonrocks. It is possible that these real pieces come from the 'Giant step' or 'Goodwill' samples that went missing over the decades. If the stone is recovered, typicly from a crime investigation, and examined, its origin from one of the gift rocks can be easily determined. For a serious doubt, it is wise to report the offer, with full particulars, to the NASA inspector general and the local office of the FBI. For other countries, apply at the US embassy or consulate for advice. NASA when alerted to a possible offering of a real moonrock, investigates and sometimes takes legal action. However, of the moon rocks in the lists below, a missing one is never seen ever again. Because of their rarity and lack of refreshed supply any time soon, prices for an Apollo or Luna moonrock, actually a chip or grain, is hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. Chips from lunar meteorites are far less pricey, in the tens or hundreds of dollars.
NASA concern ---------- For the gift rocks to states and countries and individuals, NASA has no jurisdiction except as they are reported as part of a crime. Then it reacts with an investigation and hopeful return of the specimen to the original recipient, or last legitimate title holder. For moonrocks on loan for exhibits, NASA seems awfully inconsistent. In some cases it mandates strict coverage of the stone in all its movements and display, supervision, alarms, protection, and so on. In other cases, it seems very lax with only casual reminders about handling. NASA also seems to be loose with shipping an exhibit stone, sometimes using regular postal service mail rather than traced delivery. In my personal experience I saw a display of moonrocks from a NASA traveling exhibit at an astronomy conference. This was in the 1980s, so details are eroded. The stones were tiny pebbles set in a dinner- dish dome. It was carried about casually by the NASA crew and allowed to be handled by visitors. It seemed entirely feasible to palm the dome and play dumb. A person probably could have dropped it into a tote bag and walked away. Samples given for scientific study seem to be more carefully chronicled and documented. I hear of the paperwork being on the order of that for radiological samples.
Moonrock news ----------- With the Apollo anniversary and International Year of Astronomy, news about moonrocks spiked in 2009. An other ignitive spark was the Rijksmusem, Amsterdam, Holland, moonrock incident. In August 2009 the museum reported that a moonrock on display was really a hunk of petrified wood! It was given by the US ambassador to Holland during a visit by astronaut Neil Armstrong. it is possible that the museum associated the rock with the astronaut as coming from the Moon. This story called into question how musea keep track of their moonrocks. The mistaken stone in the Rijksmuseum was properly cared for. However, the inquiry arose: Where are the 'Giant step' and 'Goodwill' rocks? In summer and fall of 2009 several news pieces described efforts to learn the fate of these rocks in US states and overseas. Some leaded to successful recovery. Others so far end in dead leads. I do not try to summarize the account of these stones, there being good coverage in the news media. I'll not addiurnate this article regularly. This ia a snapshot status report as at November 2009.
Inventory of moonrocks -------------------- These tables and text below are adapted from collectSPACE, who has the project of tracking down to a definite fate each of the 'Giant step' and 'Goodwill' moonrocks. It has authoritative material on other space-related artifacts at 'www.collectspace.com'. A blank entry for a country or state means only that the stone is unaccounted. It is not a statement that the stone is actually stolen or lost. It could be a matter of misplaced records, faded memory, loosely managed relocation, on exhibit in a lesser-known museum. For the Goodwill stones, a couple numbered specimina were not given out. They remain in NASA's collection.
Giant step moonrocks ------------------- In November 1969 US President Richard Nixon requested that NASA create approximately 250 displays containing lunar surface material and the flags of 135 nations, US possessions, and [US] states. Each presentation included 0.05 grams of Apollo 11 moon dust, in the form of four small pieces encased in an acrylic button, as well as the flag of the recipient nation or state, also flown on the first manned lunar landing mission. The displays that were presented to foreign heads of state included the inscription:
'Presented to the People of [country] by Richard Nixon, President of the United States of America. 'This Flag of Your Nation was Carried to the Moon and Back by Apollo 11 and This Fragment of the Moon's Surface was Brought to Earth by the Crew of That First Manned Lunar Landing.'
(With exception to the plaque for Venezuela: it was discovered that the nation's flag was not flown aboard the Apollo 11 spacecraft. Instead, a flag carried on Apollo 12 was used with the wording: "This flag of your nation was carried to the moon and back, and this fragment of the moon's surface was brought to Earth by the crew of the first manned lunar landing.")
Once gifted, each of the goodwill moon rock samples became the property of the recipient and was no longer subject to being tracked by NASA. All other lunar sample locations are well documented by the US space agency to this day (with exception to similarly gifted Apollo 17 lunar sample displays). As property of the nation or state, the [Giant Step] rocks are now subject to the laws for public gifts as set by that country [or state]. In most cases, as in the United States, public gifts cannot be legally transferred to individual ownership without the passage of additional legislation. Since 2005, collectSPACE has attempted to locate the current whereabouts of all the Apollo 11 lunar sample displays. The following chart details those efforts [as at mid November 2009]. Special gratitude is extended to former NASA Office of Inspector General special agent Joseph Gutheinz, who today as a professor at the University of Phoenix, Arizona, has challenged his students to locate the displays. Do you know the current status of an Apollo 11 display? Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Nation/State Location/Status ------------------ --------------- Afghanistan Albania Algeria Andorra Argentina Australia National Archives of Australia, "Memory of a Nation" exhibit, Canberra Austria Technisches Museum Wien (Vienna) Barbados Belgium Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences, Brussels Bhutan Bolivia Botswana Brazil Bulgaria Burma Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Central African Republic Ceylon (Sri Lanka) Natural History Museum, Colombo Chad Chile Frei Montalva's Historic House Museum, Santiago China Colombia Congo (Brazzaville) Congo (Kinshasa) Costa Rica Museo Nacional de Costa Rica, San Jose (in storage) Cuba Cyprus Czechoslovakia Vojensky historicky£stav (Military History Institute), Prague Dahomey Denmark Dominican Republic Ecuador El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Ethiopia Finland France Musāum d'histoire naturelle, Nantes Gabon Gambia Germany Naturmuseum Senckenberg, Frankfurt Ghana Greece Guatemala Guinea Guyana Haiti Honduras Hungary Iceland Iceland India Indonesia Iran Iraq Ireland Accidentally discarded after an Oct. 3, 1977 fire destroyed the Meridian room at Dunsink Observatory, Dublin, where it had been on display. Now among the rubble at the Finglas landfill (dump) Israel Italy Ivory Coast Jamaica Japan National Museum, Tokyo Jordan Kenya Korea National Museum of Korea, Seoul Kuwait Laos Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libya Liechenstein Luxembourg Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldiwe Islands Mali Malta Museum of Natural Science, Gozo Mauritania Mexico Universum, Museo de las Ciencias, Mexico City Monaco Mongolia Morocco Muscat and Oman Nauru Nepal National Museum of Nepal, Kathmandu Netherlands National Museum of the History of Science and Medicine in Leiden New Zealand Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Norway Pakistan Panama Paraguay Peru Philippines Poland Olsztynskie Planetarium i Obserwatorium Astronomiczne, Olsztyn Portugal Romania Muzeul National de Istorie a RomÉniei, Bucharest Rwanda San Marino Saudi Arabia Senegal Sierra Leone Singapore Singapore Science Centre Somalia South Africa Southern Yemen Soviet Union Spain Sudan Swaziland Sweden Reported stolen from Naturhistoriska riksmuseet (National Museum of Natural History) in Stockholm in 2002 Switzerland focusTerra, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich Syria Tanzania Thailand Togo Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Uganda United Arab Republic United Kingdom 10 Downing Street (in the study), London Upper Volta Uruguay Vatican City Vatican Museum Venezuela Vietnam Western Samoa Yemen Yugoslavia Museum of Yugoslav History, Muzej 25 Maj (Museum of the 25th of May), Belgrade, Serbia Zambia
Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California San Diego Air & Space Museum Colorado Connecticut Delaware Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa State Historical Museum, Des Moines Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland Maryland State House, Annapolis Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson (in storage) Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Jersey State Museum, Trenton (in storage) New Mexico New York North Carolina North Carolina Museum of History, Raleigh North Dakota Ohio Ohio Historical Center, Columbus Oklahoma Oklahoma History Center, Oklahoma City Oregon Pennsylvania Planetarium, The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg Rhode Island State Library, Providence South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont held in the collection of the Vermont Historical Society, Barre Virginia Washington West Virginia State Museum, Charleston Wisconsin Wyoming District of Columbia Guam Puerto Rico Virgin Islands American Somoa
Goodwill moonrocks ----------------- Prior to the end of their third and final moon walk, Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt paused to make a special dedication:
EUGENE CERNAN: 'Houston, before we close out our [moon walk], we understand that there are young people in Houston today who have been effectively touring our country, young people from countries all over the world, respectively, touring our country. They had the opportunity to watch the launch of Apollo 17; hopefully had an opportunity to meet some of our young people in our country. And we'd like to say first of all, welcome, we hope you enjoyed your stay. 'Second of all, I think probably one of the most significant things we can think about when we think about Apollo is that it has opened for us -- "for us" being the world -- a challenge of the future. The door is now cracked, but the promise of the future lies in the young people, not just in America, but the young people all over the world learning to live and learning to work together. In order to remind all the people of the world in so many countries throughout the world that this is what we all are striving for in the future, Jack has picked up a very significant rock, typical of what we have here in the valley of Taurus-Littrow. 'It's a rock composed of many fragments, of many sizes, and many shapes, probably from all parts of the Moon, perhaps billions of years old. But fragments of all sizes and shapes -- and even colors -- that have grown together to become a cohesive rock, outlasting the nature of space, sort of living together in a very coherent, very peaceful manner. When we return this rock or some of the others like it to Houston, we'd like to share a piece of this rock with so many of the countries throughout the world. We hope that this will be a symbol of what our feelings are, what the feelings of the Apollo Program are, and a symbol of mankind: that we can live in peace and harmony in the future.' HARRISON SCHMITT: 'A portion of [this] rock will be sent to a representative agency or museum in each of the countries represented by the young people in Houston today, and we hope that they -- that rock and the students themselves -- will carry with them our good wishes, not only for the new year coming up but also for themselves, their countries, and all mankind in the future.'
Three months after Apollo 17 returned home in December 1972, US President Richard Nixon ordered the distribution of fragments from the rock that Cernan and Schmitt collected, sample #70017, to 135 foreign heads of state, the 50 US states, and its provinces. Each rock, encased in an acrylic button, was mounted to a plaque with intended recipient's flag, also flown to the Moon. A letter, signed by President Nixon, accompanied the samples that were transferred to foreign heads of state. Dated 21 March 1973, it read as follows (as reproduced from the National Archives):
'The Apollo lunar landing program conducted by the United States has been brought to a successful conclusion. Men from the planet Earth have reached the first milestone in space. But as we stretch for the stars, we know that we stand also upon the shoulders of many men of many nations here on our own planet. In the deepest sense our exploration of the moon was truly an international effort. 'It is for this reason that, on behalf of the people of the United States I present this flag, which was carried to the moon, to the State, and its fragment of the moon obtained during the final lunar mission of the Apollo program. 'If people of many nations can act together to achieve the dreams of humanity in space, then surely we can act together to accomplish humanity's dream of peace here on earth. It was in this spirit that the Untied States of America went to the moon, and it is in this spirit that we look forward to sharing what we have done and what we have learned with all mankind.'
Once gifted, each of the goodwill moon rock samples became the property of the recipient and was no longer subject to being tracked by NASA. All other lunar sample locations are well documented by the US space agency to this day (with exception to similarly gifted Apollo 11 lunar sample displays). As property of the nation or state, the goodwill rocks are now subject to the laws for public gifts as set by that country [or state]. In most cases, as in the United States, public gifts cannot be legally transferred to individual ownership without the passage of additional legislation. Since 2002, collectSPACE has attempted to locate the current whereabouts of all the goodwill moon rocks. The following chart details those efforts [as at mid November 2009]. Special gratitude is extended to former NASA Office of Inspector General special agent Joseph Gutheinz, who today as a professor at the University of Phoenix, Arizona, has challenged his students to locate the goodwill moon rocks. Do you know the current status of a fragment of Sample 70017? Write us at email@example.com
No. Nation/State Location/Status --- --------------- --------------- 239 Alabama 240 Alaska Alaska State Museum, Juneau 241 Arizona 242 Arkansas 243 California 244 Colorado 245 Connecticut 246 Delaware in storage in the state's archives (Delaware Museum Association) 247 Florida 248 Georgia Fernbank Science Center, Atlanta 249 Hawaii 250 Idaho 251 Illinois 252 Indiana 253 Iowa State Historical Museum, Des Moines 254 Kansas 255 Kentucky 256 Louisiana 257 Maine 258 Maryland 259 Massachusetts Museum of Science, Boston 260 Michigan Michigan Historical Museum, Lansing 261 Minnesota Minnesota Historical Society, MN150 exhibit, St. Paul 262 Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson (in storage) 263 Missouri 264 Montana 265 Nebraska 266 Nevada Nevada State Museum, Carson City (in storage) 267 New Hampshire 268 New Jersey 269 New Mexico 270 New York New York State Museum, Albany (in storage) 271 North Carolina 272 North Dakota 273 Ohio 274 Oklahoma Oklahoma History Center, Oklahoma City 275 Oregon 276 Pennsylvania Planetarium, The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg 277 Rhode Island 278 South Carolina 279 South Dakota 280 Tennessee Pink Palace Museum Sharpe Planetarium, Memphis 281 Texas On loan through January 10, 2010 from the State Capitol Building (State Preservation Board) to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston as part of the exhibit, The Moon 282 Utah 283 Vermont in the collection of the Vermont Historical Society, Barre 284 Virginia Science Museum of Virginia, Richmond 285 Washington 286 West Virginia 287 Wisconsin Deke Slayton Memorial Space and Bicycle Museum, Sparta 288 Wyoming 289 Puerto Rico
290 not distributed, still at NASA 291 China 292 not distributed, still at NASA 293 not distributed, still at NASA 294 Afghanistan 295 Argentina Planetario Galileo Galilei, Buenos Aires 296 Australia National Museum of Australia, Canberra, in storage 297 Austria Naturhistorisches Museum, Meteorite Hall 298 Bahamas 299 Bahrain Bahrain National Museum, Manama (unconfirmed) 300 Barbados Barbados Museum & Historical Society 301 Belgium Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences, Brussels 302 Bolivia 303 Brazil 304 Canada Canada Science and Technology Museum, on loan from the Canadian Museum of Nature 305 Chad 306 Taiwan 307 Colombia 308 Costa Rica Museo Nacional de Costa Rica, San Jose (in storage) 309 Dahomey 310 Denmark 311 Dominican Republic 312 Ecuador 313 Egypt Egyptian Geological Museum, Cairo 314 Congo Republic 315 El Salvador Museo Nacional de Antropologia, Zona Rosa 316 Finland Mineralogical Museum of the Geological Survey of Finland, Otaniemi, Espoo 317 Gabon 318 W. Germany Deutsches Museum, Munich 319 Solomon Islands Soloman Islands National Museum 320 Guatemala 321 Guyana National Museum of Guyana, Georgetown 322 Haiti 323 Honduras Acquired illegally and then smuggled into the U.S. in 1995; offered for sale for $5 million to undercover NASA agent and confiscated in 1998; returned to Honduras and now displayed at Centro Interactivo de Ense§anza Chiminike in Tegucigalpa 324 Iceland 325 India 326 Indonesia 327 Iran 328 Ireland National Museum of Ireland, Museum of Natural History, Dublin 329 Israel 330 Italy Museo Nazionale Della Scienza E Della Tecnologia "Leonardo da Vinci", Milan 331 Ivory Coast 332 Jamaica 333 Japan National Museum, Tokyo 334 Jordan 335 Khmer 336 Korea 337 Lebanon 338 Liberia 339 Luxemborg 340 Malta Reported stolen 5/2004; National Museum of Natural History, Mdina 341 Mexico Universum, Museo de las Ciencias, Mexico City 342 Netherlands National Museum of the History of Science and Medicine in Leiden 343 New Zealand Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington 344 Nicaragua 345 Niger 346 Nigeria 347 Norway Geological Museum, Natural History Museum, Oslo 348 Pakistan 349 Panama 350 Paraguay 351 Peru 352 Philippines 353 Portugal 354 Qatar 355 Saudi Arabia 356 South Africa Transvaal Museum, Pretoria 357 Spain Museo Naval, Madrid since 2007; previously in a private collection 358 Swaziland 359 Switzerland Swiss Museum of Transport, Lucerne 360 Tanzania 361 Thailand 362 Togo 363 Tunisia 364 Turkey 365 United Kingdom Natural History Museum, London 366 Uruguay 367 Venezuela 368 VietNam 369 Zambia 370 Algeria 371 Bhutan 372 Botswana 373 Bulgaria National Museum of Natural History, Sofia 374 Burma 375 Cameroon 376 Central African Republic 377 Mozambique 378 Cyprus Never presented as a result of government coup; retained by US Embassy in Cyprus; last reported (2003) by son of US diplomat as in his custody. 379 Czechoslovakia 380 Guinea Equatorial 381 Ethiopia 382 Fiji 383 France Palais de la Dācouverte, Paris 384 Gambia 385 Ghana 386 Guinea Republic 387 Hungary 388 Kenya 389 Kuwait 390 Laos "Haw Kham" Royal Palace Museum, Luang Prabang 391 Lesotho 392 Libya 393 Madagascar 394 Malawi 395 Malaysia 396 Maldives 397 Mali 398 Mauritania 399 Mauritius 400 Morocco 401 Nepal National Museum of Nepal, Kathmandu 402 Oman 403 Poland Olsztynskie Planetarium i Obserwatorium Astronomiczne, Olsztyn 404 Romania Reported among auctioned possessions of dictator Ceausescu 405 Rwanda 406 Senegal 407 Sierra Leone 408 Singapore Singapore Science Centre 409 Somali 410 Sri Lanka 411 Sudan 412 Trinidad & Tobago 413 USSR 414 United Arab Emirates Al Ain National Museum 415 Upper Volta 416 Yemen 417 Yugoslavia Museum of Yugoslav History, Belgrad, Serbia 418 Zaire 419 not distributed, still at NASA 420 Bangladesh 421 Liechtenstein 422 Monaco 423 Nauru 424 San Marino 425 Tonga 426 Vatican Vatican Museum 427 West Samoa 428 Chile Museo Nacional de Historia Natural, Santiago 429 Sweden National Museum of Science and Technology, Stockholm --------
Ambassador of exploration moonrocks --------------------------------- During preparation of this article, collectSPACE suggested including that I discuss a third category, the 'Ambassador of exploration' moonrocks. These are not gifts but their ceremonies are often reported as a gift presentation. In order to recognize the sacrifices and dedication of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts, each is presented a moon rock as part of a special ceremony. In addition to astronauts, select other persons are honored who played a specially significant role in the furtherance of the American human space program. The moon rocks awarded are each part of a sample returned by the Apollo 17 mission from the Taurus-Littrow Valley. Each is encased in an acrylic sphere and attached to a plaque bearing images of a Saturn V rocket launch, an astronaut (John Young) jumping on the Moon, the planet Mars and the International Space Station. The lunar samples remain the property of NASA, but the astronauts and their surviving families, in coordination with NASA, select a museum or other educational institution where their awards will be publicly displayed in their name to help inspire a new generation of explorers. The award celebrates the "realization of a vision" for exploration first articulated by President John F Kennedy in May 1961, when NASA's fledgling human space flight program had little more than 15 minutes of space flight experience. In addition to the moon rocks, each of the 34 astronauts (nine now deceased) are named by NASA as "Ambassadors of Exploration". As Ambassadors of Exploration, the recipients will help NASA communicate the benefits and excitement of space exploration and "why the continuing investment in our future is vital to the security and vitality of America." Several honorees as at mid November 2009 did not yet designated a display site for NASA's evaluation and approval;. They are listed at the end of the table. There is no time limit to find a location. When one is determined, arrangements for a ceremony are made. ----------------------------------------------- Date Astronaut/Person Moonrock display ----------- ---------------- ------------------------------- 2005 Apr 18 Neil Armstrong Cincinnati Museum Center, Cincinnati OH 2005 May 12 Gene Cernan National Museum of Naval Aviation, Pensacola FL 2005 Jul 12 Tom Stafford Stafford Air and Space Museum, Weatherford OK 2005 Jul 20 John Young Museum of Natural Science, Houston TX 2005 Oct 7 Walt Cunningham Frontiers of Flight Museum, Dallas TX 2005 Nov 16 Wally Schirra San Diego Aerospace Museum, San Diego CA 2005 Nov.19 Dick Gordon The Museum of Flight, Seattle WA 2006 Feb 5 Ed Mitchell South Florida Science Museum, West Palm Beach FL 2006 Feb 9 Stuart Roosa US Astronaut Hall of Fame, Titusville FL 2006 Feb 9 Michael Collins Cradle of Aviation Museum, Garden City LI 2006 Feb 20 John Glenn John Glenn Institute of Public Service and Public Policy, Columbus OH 2006 Feb 22 Deke Slayton Deke Slayton Memorial Space & Bike Museum, Sparta WI 2006 Feb 28 Walter Cronkite Center for American History, Austin TX 2006 Mar 25 Buzz Aldrin California Science Center, Los Angeles CA 2006 May 8 Frank Borman Pima Air and Space Museum, Tucson AZ 2006 May 8 Charlie Duke Admiral Farragut Academy St Petersburg FL 2006 Sep 30 Chris Kraft Virginia Tech University College of Engineering, Blacksburg VA 2006 Oct 6 Jim McDivitt University of Michigan College of Engineering, Ann Arbor MI 2006 Nov 18 Pete Conrad The Museum of Flight, Seattle WA 2007 Sep 28 Gus Grissom Walt Disney World Resort: Epcot, Orlando FL 2007 Oct 6 Roger Chaffee Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette IN 2007 Oct 23 Donn Eisele Broward Public Library, Ft Lauderdale FL 2007 Nov 10 Scott Carpenter Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Denver CO 2007 Dec 6 Gene Kranz Central Catholic High School, Toledo OH 2008 May 23 Jack Swigert Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum, Denver CO 2009 Jan 21 Vance Brand Museum & Cultural Center, Longmont CO 2009 Mar 26 Ken Mattingly Auburn University, Auburn AL 2009 Apr 3 James Lovell Patuxent River Naval Air Museum, Lexington Park MD 2009 Jul 20 John F Kennedy Fondren Library, Rice University, Houston TX 2009 Jul 30 Al Worden Apollo/Saturn V Center, Kennedy Space Center FL 2009 Dec 2 Fred Haise Gorenflo Elementary School, Biloxi MS Bill Anders TBA Alan Bean TBA Gordon Cooper TBA Ronald Evans TBA Jim Irwin TBA Harrison Schmitt TBA Rusty Schweickart TBA David Scott Science Museum, London, England (TBA) Alan Shepard TBA Edward White TBA ----------------------------------
Conclusion -------- The huge fraction of Apollo 11 and Apollo 17 moonrock that are missing is incredible! While it could be agrued that many overseas recipients just don't have the competence to curate a national treasure, the situation is no better within the United States. Again it must be understanded that a blank simply means the rock is not accounted for. It does not mean that it is really lost or stolen. A few specimina were reported as stolen, as indicated in the tables. News about their eventual recovery or confirmed irretrievable loss is covered in the news media and collectSPACE's website.