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Moon Rock from the Apollo moon landing

In December 1969, museum visitors queued round the block to see a sample of rock brought back from the Moon by the Apollo 11 lunar landing.

Moon rock on display at the National Museum Cardiff
Moonrock displayed at National Museum Cardiff.
Study of the specimens that astronauts brought back from the Moon allowed scientists, for the first time, to investigate the geological history of another world.

Rocks from the Moon are extremely old compared to those on Earth. They range in age from about 3.2 billion years up to about 4.5 billion years old, whereas the Earth's oldest rocks date from about 3.9 billion years. Older formations have been destroyed and recycled by the constant shifting of the Earth's tectonic plates.

Today, a piece of Moon rock from the Apollo 12 mission, on loan from NASA, is on display as part of the exhibition The Evolution of Wales at National Museum Cardiff.

The precious rock is kept in a special airtight container filled with nitrogen to protect it from contamination. At 3.3 billion years old, it is considerably older than the most ancient Welsh rock, which is displayed alongside it - and a mere 702 million years old.

The moon rock is the most expensive item in the entire museum. Its value is based on the cost of going to the moon to get another piece. It is kept in a protective nitrogen environment, only NASA has a key to open the inner case.

The Museum's moonrock

Below is a short film produced in July 2009 to mark the 40th Anniversary of the Moon landings (images and sound copyright of NASA)

 

Visit the exact location this specimen was collected from

Google Eearth Icon

moonrockwales.kml

  1. Right click on the link above and choose 'Save Link As...'.
  2. Open the saved file in Google Earth.
  3. Requires Google Earth 5.0 or above with view set to 'Moon':
Google Moon screenshot

You can download Google Earth for free (Mac or PC). To learn more about Google Earth, visit earth.google.com.

 

Article Date: 1 September 2009

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