Conspiracy theorists rejoice: Prized ‘moon rock’ in Dutch national museum is a fake

By | August 28, 2009

http://xenophilia.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/300px-Moon-apollo17-schmitt_boulder.jpgIt’s not green cheese, but it might as well be.

The Dutch national museum said Thursday that one of its prized possessions, a rock supposedly brought back from the moon by U.S. astronauts, is just a piece of petrified wood.

Rijksmuseum spokeswoman Xandra van Gelder, who oversaw the investigation that proved the piece was a fake, said the museum will keep it anyway as a curiosity.

“It’s a good story, with some questions that are still unanswered,” she said. “We can laugh about it.”

The museum acquired the rock after the death of former prime minister Willem Drees in 1988. Drees received it as a private gift on Oct. 9, 1969 from then-U.S. ambassador J. William Middendorf during a visit by the three Apollo 11 astronauts, part of their “Giant Leap” goodwill tour after the first moon landing.

Middendorf, who lives in Rhode Island, told Dutch NOS news that he had gotten it from the U.S. State Department, but couldn’t recall the exact details.

The U.S. Embassy in the Hague said it was investigating the matter.

The museum had vetted the moon rock early on by checking with NASA, Van Gelder said.

She said the space agency told the museum then that it was possible the country had received a rock: NASA gave moon rocks to more than 100 countries in the early 1970s, but those were from later missions.

“Apparently no one thought to doubt it, since it came from the prime minister’s collection,” Van Gelder said.

The rock is not usually on display; the museum is primarily known for its paintings and other works of fine art by masters such as Rembrandt.

It was on show in 2006 and a space expert informed the museum it was unlikely NASA would have given away any moon rocks three months after Apollo returned to Earth.

Researchers from Amsterdam’s Free University said they could see at a glance the rock was not from the moon.

“It’s a nondescript, pretty-much-worthless stone,” Geologist Frank Beunk said in an article published by the museum.

via Conspiracy theorists rejoice: Prized ‘moon rock’ in Dutch national museum is a fake.

It is a crime to sell fake moon rocks.

The Connecticut man who attempted to sell Moon rocks allegedly from the stash of lunar rocks snagged and tagged by Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in 1969, has pled guilty to six counts of mail and wire fraud.

Richard Keith Mountain, alias Nicholas Parker Cole, pled guilty on October 30 his caper to sell alleged “Moon rocks” to interested buyers was unearthed and squashed. Mountain appeared before United States Magistrate Morton Silver of the District of Arizona.

Mountain had been previously indicted by a Federal Grand Jury, in April 1999, on 24 counts of mail and wire fraud for misrepresenting to the prospective buyers that the materials he was selling were collected from the surface of the Moon during the July 1969 Apollo 11 lunar landing.

Special Agents from the NASA Office of Inspector General, Office of Criminal Investigations, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation carried out the investigation. – space.com

Since moon rocks are so rare, how would you know if you had a fake one? Did you know that you don’t need to go to the moon to get a moon rock?

YOU don’t have to visit the moon to hold a chunk of it in your hand. Every day around 160 tonnes of rubble from space rains down on Earth, and some of it comes from the moon. All you need to find a piece of moon rock is keen eyesight, patience and an expanse of ice or desert against which a dark little chunk of our neighbour will stand out.  …

Meteorite hunters like Labenne follow an approach pioneered in the 1930s by the American collector Harvey Nininger, working on the Great Plains that stretch west from the Mississippi river to the Rocky mountains. Nininger taught local people to seek out black stones on the pale ground, and thanks to their efforts he bagged more than 200 meteorites over three decades.

Another rich source was identified in 1969 by the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition, which found meteorites on a blue ice field near the Yamato mountains in East Antarctica. Other deserts became a focus of interest in the early 1990s, including the one that yielded our moon rock.

Lunar meteorites are exceedingly rare: only around 60 have been identified. And they don’t just interest collectors. Space scientists are also keen to get hold of them, because they hold clues to what the rock is like on parts of the moon beyond the areas explored by the Apollo and robotic landers.

The vast majority of the tens of thousands of meteorites that have been studied are not from the moon.- newsci

As you can see, it is rare, but not impossible to find a real moon rock.

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