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New on view at Tellus museum: moon rock collected during Apollo 15 mission in 1971

It weighs only four ounces, but a new-on-exhibit moon rock looms large at Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville.

Tellus claims its long-sought lunar sample is the largest moon rock on exhibit in Georgia. Collected by Astronaut Dave Scott during the Apollo 15 lunar mission in 1971, the original rock weighed about 21 pounds. Officially designated Lunar Sample 15555, it was nicknamed “Great Scott” in honor of its collector.

The mother rock was sliced for analysis and to create exhibits like the one in Cartersville. The sample given to Tellus was prepared in the Lunar Sample Receiving Lab at NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, and transported by museum staffers Amy Gramsey and Julian Gray.

On permanent exhibit in Tellus’ Science in Motion Gallery, the moon rock is being shown alongside three Apollo artifacts on loan from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum: an Apollo Lunar Module ascent rocket engine, a lunar sample return container and a geological hammer.

Brownish-gray in color and containing many small cavities, the sample is basalt, an igneous rock composed of pyroxene, plagioclase feldsparcq and olivine. Through radiogeniccqmethods, it has been dated at 3.3 billion years old.

The Apollo 15 mission was the first to use the Lunar Rover, a vehicle that allowed the astronauts to explore parts of the landing site a distance from their base camp. The crew, which traveled 17 miles during three EVAs (extravehicular activities or moonwalks), brought back a record haul of rocks, soil and core samples, totaling 169 pounds.

The museum is at 100 Tellus Drive (Exit 293 off I-75), Cartersville. 770-606-5700, www.tellusmuseum.org.

HOWARD POUSNER

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