ALBANY, N.Y. – New York's Goodwill moon rock from the Apollo 17 mission will be on exhibit at the New York State Museum to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the last manned moon mission when the rock was collected.
The moon rock –3.7 billion years old and the only fragment in the state's collections – will be on exhibit in the Museum lobby from Dec.19, 2012 through Feb. 10, 2013.
The highly successful Apollo 17 mission was the last and longest manned lunar mission and brought back the largest amount of moon samples in history. The mission was manned by NASA astronauts Eugene A. Cernan, Ronald E. Evans, and Harrison H. Schmitt. Schmitt was the only geologist on the mission and later became a U.S. senator for New Mexico and a university professor. Scientific objectives for the mission included geological surveying and sampling of rocks, surface and in-flight experiments, and high-resolution photographic tasks.
While retrieving samples from the Moon's Taurus-Littrow Valley, Schmitt and Cernan picked up a rock that became sample 70017 and dedicated it to all the young people of the planet Earth. In 1973, President Richard Nixon had fragments of sample 70017 presented to all 50 U.S. states and provinces, as well as 135 foreign heads of state. These fragments of moon rock became known as the Goodwill moon rocks. Nixon sent the Goodwill moon rock to New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller who entrusted it to the care of the New York State Museum.
Photos of the Goodwill moon rock are available at http://www.oce.nysed.gov/moon.