Toulouse. The moonstone displayed in the Cité de l’Espace came to Earth 50 years ago!

Moonstone of the Cité de l’Espace in Toulouse. (© Cité de l’Espace Alex Piechta)

she sits in the middle of a hall of Toulouse Space City for more than twenty years. NS moon stone Always creates a lot of emotion among the visitors. She brought back to earth There Just half a century ago. Here is his story.

We are in 1971. Humans set foot on lunar soil for the first time two years ago and missions aboard the Earth satellite for the US space agency NASA follow one another. 26 July 1971, at 9:34 a.m. local time, from a Saturn V rocket Mission Apollo XV Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

This is already the seventh time thatA crew flies on the moon like this And the fourth manned expedition that will step on its surface. On the other hand, it is the first one that benefits from the Lunar Rover Vehicle (LRV), a car that allows you to go ahead Compared to previous visits to the lunar star.

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During his second scuba diving 385,000 km from Earth, 1Is August 1971the commander David Scott and pilots of the Eagle Lunar Module James Irwin moving to the edge from Doon Crater 3 km from his ship. They take samples from a rock there.

The number of one of them is 15499. Is. It measures approximately 17 x 8 cm and weighs 2.024 kg. In total, two Moon Walkers report 76.7 kg samples.

Stone has been in Toulouse since 1998.
La Pierre (back right) in Toulouse since 1998. (© Cité de l’Espace Manuel Huynh)

Apollo 15 ends on 7 August 1971 With the return of astronauts Scott, Irwin and Alfred Woden to the Blue Planet.

Very quickly used to conduct lunar samples brought back by the Apollo missions scientific study. And Cut into sub-samples. The one with the number 15449 is no exception to the rule. After returning from the Apollo 15 mission, he was transferred to the Lunar Receiving Laboratory at the space center houston and divided into 136 large or small pieces.

But not all these rock fragments are in the hands of scientists. NASA has also chosen lending to institutions so that they can be displayed to the public.

163.44 gram piece more than 3 billion years old

it is a matter Cité de l’Espace in Toulouse, which 1998 . was received in A moonstone references 15499.10. Astronauts on this occasion John Young (who went to the Moon during the Apollo XVI mission) moved to the Pink City. The stone was first brought into contact with the immense Air and Space Museum in Washington.

It weighs 163.44 grams and is about 3.4 billion years old. This stone never directly knew the Earth’s atmosphere. she bathes in nitrogen, under the glass, to avoid any oxidation.

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unique in france

Toulouse is the only city in France to display a moonstone in this way (which still belongs to NASA, as it is a loan). others are sometimes, as in 1969 after the first mission to the Moon at the Palais de la Décoverte in Paris, or a few years earlier in Vienna (Austria). And some stay in the windows longer. The success of the Stone of Paris thus extended his stay Discovery Palace.

Fake stone in a museum in the Netherlands!

But beware of fakes. Thus came an unusual misadventure with a Dutch museum in 2019. Le Rijksmuseum d’Amsterdam Found out that his stone is on display since 1991… A piece of sneaky wood.

was still a stone Introduced to a Prime Minister of the Netherlands in 1969 by the US Ambassador. And the museum, proud of its acquisition, insured it for 50,000 euros! It was the suspicion of an expert that perpetuated the deception.

The weight of the stone is 163.44 grams.
The weight of the stone is 163.44 grams. (© Cité de l’Espace Manuel Huynh)

in Joe Biden’s office

Apart from museums, institutions also keep specimens out of sight for scientific purposes. And heads of state Occasionally see it in their offices. As in the case of US President Joe Biden. A moonstone brought back by Apollo XVII) exists in this type of oval office white House. But France has other stones, as former President Richard Nixon distributed some of the stones. world leader In 1973, after donating pieces of moon dust already to 134 countries in 1969.

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About the Author: Tad Fisher

Prone to fits of apathy. Music specialist. Extreme food enthusiast. Amateur problem solver.

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