[meteorite-list] The Apollo Moon Rock Collection

From: Richard Montgomery <rickmont_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2011 18:23:25 -0700
Message-ID: <D61CFC078B1D401BB420B605E53B2B20_at_bosoheadPC>

...and adendum to my last post:

I am, though, very interested to hear more from your colleagues, Carl.


What are the opinions of this? A vast source of study. (I have no idea who
has access to what.)

----- Original Message -----
From: "Michael Gilmer" <meteoritemike at gmail.com>
To: "Carl Agee" <agee at unm.edu>
Cc: <meteorite-list at meteoritecentral.com>
Sent: Monday, June 27, 2011 12:51 PM
Subject: Re: [meteorite-list] The Apollo Moon Rock Collection

> Hi Carl and List,
> Thanks for your perspective Carl. When framed in that context,
> selling the Apollo rocks does seem a bit silly.
> However, would the same "Liberty Bell" comparison hold true for ANSMET
> specimens? There must be some leftovers or crumbs from the ANSMET
> collection that would fetch a small fortune on the collector market.
> I'd pay a premium for micromounts from ANSMET.
> I didn't mean any disrespect towards the US, NASA, or science by
> suggesting that NASA should sell off a small portion of it's
> collection. And I agree that the proceeds from the sale would not be
> nearly enough to fund a space mission. But I think it could generate
> a useful amount of cash that could be put towards good purposes.
> I also agree that the Apollo and ANSMET collections should be more
> accessible to the public. Perhaps a permanent in-house display with a
> self-guided tour could generate a small amount of revenue - charge for
> admission and have a gift shop located by the entry/exit with tiny
> lucite-encased samples for sale, themed collector displays, and
> memorabilia (T-shirts, etc). Of course, it would have to be done
> tastefully and respectfully, so it would seem too commercial.
> This is surely a pipe-dream, but us laymen have to dream...... :)
> One more idea just occurred to me - sell one spot per year on the
> ANSMET team to the highest competent bidder. As it stands now, one
> has to be degreed to be considered (or be a well-recommended grad
> student). But if they would allow the advanced layman to bid for
> chance to join the team, I know I would register to bid in a
> heartbeat!
> Best regards,
> MikeG
> --
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Galactic Stone & Ironworks - Meteorites & Amber (Michael Gilmer)
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> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On 6/27/11, Carl Agee <agee at unm.edu> wrote:
>> Having been in charge of the Apollo Collection as well as the other
>> collections at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) from 1998-2002, here is
>> my take on this discussion. One of the main goals of curation at JSC
>> is preserving the collection for posterity and for future study with
>> instruments not yet imagined or by scientists not yet born. The Moon
>> rocks are treated like a national treasure. As many of you may know,
>> the curation protocols at JSC are the "gold standard" for
>> extraterrestrial sample handling. For example, the collection is kept
>> in high purity nitrogen, only materials restricted to of short list of
>> aluminum, stainless steel, and Teflon are allow to touch the samples.
>> The curation facility was built as a clean lab with positive air
>> pressure, airlocks, and is operated by a highly trained staff. The
>> Lunar Vault is built to withstand hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods --
>> and just to be on the safe side NASA has placed 15% of the collection
>> at White Sands Test Facility, a few miles outside Las Cruces, New
>> Mexico, locked away for safe keeping just in case of a catastrophic
>> loss of the Lunar Lab in Houston. When people think about what a Mars
>> Sample Return Lab design might look like, the first place they start
>> from is the Lunar Sample Lab.
>> Clearly, JSC does a fabulous job of handling, curating, and keeping
>> the lunar samples safe, there is no museum or private collector in the
>> world that comes close to Lunar Lab quality. However, the one thing
>> that I think is missing from this facility is an equally spectacular
>> public outreach component. Sure, the public can look at a few Moon
>> rocks at museum displays here and there nationwide, but very few
>> people ever get the privilege of being a visitor at the Lunar Lab. It
>> is NOT open to the public. I think NASA, and JSC in particular, could
>> enhance its image and boost public excitement and support for
>> astromaterials research by somehow giving better public access to view
>> these crown jewels in their laboratory setting.
>> You may have guessed already that I'm not a big proponent of selling
>> off the Moon Rocks to fund NASA missions, as a few people on the list
>> have proposed. Even if Americans thought this was a good idea, I am
>> pretty sure we would come up a few billion dollars short to do
>> anything like a decent robotic Mars Sample Return. Furthermore, I
>> doubt if many Americans would be in favor of cutting up pieces of the
>> Declaration of Indepence or chunks of the Liberty Bell to sell as high
>> priced souvenirs, or sell off tracts of Yellowstone Park to reduce our
>> nation's debt. But I do think the Lunar Collection could be opened up
>> to the public in away that would be beneficial to everyone, not the
>> least to NASA itself.
>> Carl Agee
>> --
>> Carl B. Agee
>> Director and Curator, Institute of Meteoritics
>> Professor, Earth and Planetary Sciences
>> MSC03 2050
>> University of New Mexico
>> Albuquerque NM 87131-1126
>> Tel: (505) 750-7172
>> Fax: (505) 277-3577
>> Email: agee at unm.edu
>> http://epswww.unm.edu/iom/pers/agee.html
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Received on Mon 27 Jun 2011 09:23:25 PM PDT

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