ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Houston, we have moon rocks.
The Minnesota National Guard said Monday it found a few small fragments of the moon’s surface in storage in a state building in St. Paul. They’ll be turned over to the state Historical Society on Wednesday.
The moon rocks came from the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969, when astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the moon. Some of the rocks, pebbles and dirt they collected have gone missing after U.S. states and territories and 135 countries each got tiny samples encased in plastic. Authentic moon rocks are considered national treasures and can’t legally be sold in the U.S.
Minnesota’s moon rocks disappeared sometime after then-President Richard Nixon gave them to the state, along with a state flag that was carried on the mission.
Joseph Gutheinz, a University of Phoenix instructor and former NASA investigator who leads an effort to find missing moon rocks, said Minnesota’s discovery leaves 11 states, including Massachusetts, Texas and Wisconsin, missing their Apollo 11 moon rocks.
He said the lunar samples from the first moon landing command high sums on the black market, and some have been stolen or otherwise migrated away from the public domain.
“To a collector, it’s invaluable,” said Gutheinz, whose students have been looking for Minnesota’s moon rocks since 2002.
He added, “Somebody in the National Guard there decided to do the right thing and rather than walk off with something that had a great value on the black market, said, `Hey, this doesn’t belong to me.’ “
The handoff to the Minnesota Historical Society will take place at an event with students at STARBASE Minnesota, a math and science program.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Arizona kids in crisis: How you can help
- 11 holiday classics for the ultimate movie marathon
- 2016 college football rivalry games you simply can't miss
- New treatment offers hope for migraine sufferers
- 11 stadiums to watch your favorite football team
- Shopping for a TV? Best models for 2016
- The new beer pairing guide for holiday foods
- Avoid this holiday plumbing disaster in your home
- 7 tips to avoid holiday weight gain
- New treatments mean better prostate cancer survival rates
- 5 of the scariest things found in drains
- 6 tips to create the best family movie night
- New bone marrow procedure holds promise for healing pain
- The best places to celebrate Fall in Phoenix
- Infamous athletes who did the most time for their crimes
- Diet, exercise and aspirin: 3 tools to fight colon cancer
- 2016 baseball highlights, bloopers and blunders
- See how CFOs really feel about business in the Valley
- The best television shows on the internet
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof
- 6 coolest things brewing in Arizona
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever