Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Missing Moon Rocks: Redux

“I thought they were in here…” AMcC
Shortly after the news broke that 19 of the moon rocks from Apollo 17 given to the 50 US states in the 1970s were missing, I interviewed my friend Randy Korotev on the topic in my July 26, 2010 post. Randy is a lunar chemist, Washington University research professor, and St. Louis birder. Moon rocks are Randy’s long suit; he’s been studying them since 1969. Moon rocks are interesting to me too, because: 
1. The moon rock given to my state (Missouri) was listed among the missing.
2. The missing minerals are of course worth millions of bucks—on the black market
3. Mom told me that my dad had received some “moon pebbles” from a friend who worked for big defense contractor McDonnell-Douglas, now known as Boeing. Family legend says that he were placed in an envelope with something written on it. Somewhere.
Pop's unused worry stone, but no moon rock. AMcC
Here’s the good news: Senator Bond—Kit, not James—who was governor of Missouri in 1972, is now retiring from the US Senate. But wait—there’s more! Missouri’s “Goodwill Moon Rock” has been located and returned. While packing up, Bond’s staff rediscovered the plaque with a letter from Nixon and the moon rock chip from the Taurus-Littrow Valley. The plaque was presented to present Missouri governor Nixon—Jay, not Richard. Plans are to display it the Missouri State Museum in Jefferson City.
Not-so-good news: The moon rocks of 18 states, as well as Pop’s, are still missing.
Moon rock from the Apollo 16 site
The real deal! Section of a lunar meteorite from the Apollo 16 site. Photo by Steve Jurvetson

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