The Moon

Exploring Space – The Moon

With less than a week before our Space trail opens our curator Doug Millard is here to tell us about the six destinations you will journey through and what you will see along the way.

Read Doug’s first post where he tells you about his own trip from SW7 London to Houston Texas where he journeyed to pick up a piece of the moon which you will see on the trails first destination – the Moon.

Not long ago I couriered a/the piece of Moon rock across the Atlantic to London SW7. My son and I flew to Houston, Texas (we didn’t have a problem) to collect it and bring it to the Museum

Its one small piece of almost half a tonne of rocks brought to Earth by the Apollo astronauts between 1969 and 1972. Our sample is part of one of the largest rocks collected: Great Scott, named after astronaut David Scott picked it up off the lunar surface on August 2nd, 1971 during the Apollo 15 mission.

How cool is that, but how difficult is it for us Earth-bound mortals to picture what the Moon is really like? Before going to the States I started to read up on the mission and in particular the EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity, which in this case combined Moon walking with driving the lunar rover) which Scott performed with his crew mate, the late Jim Irwin, when they collected this and other lunar specimens.

What gradually started to dawn on me was really, I mean REALLY how old the Moon is. How dead it is. How it’s blasted and pummelled landscape reflects hundreds of thousands of millennia of volcanic bombardment from within and meteoroid attack from without. Scott and Irwin drove, bounced and clumped over the dust and debris of eons.

The Great Scott rock had probably lain there where the astronaut found it for millions of years – since before humans became human. It was formed over 3 billions years ago – when life was little more than scatterings of single cells. If our night-sky neighbour could think, he might wonder what these upstart beings are up to – late arrivals at the party and already getting restless.

Don’t miss Doug’s next post where he talks about his favourite object in the museum and the spaceships that have taken astronauts like Yuri Gagarin and Neil Armstrong into space!

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