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Football-sized chunk of the Moon for sale

Reuters, May 5, 2020 6:45PM Kids News

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This Moon rock is for sale. Picture: Christie's via Reuters media_cameraThis Moon rock is for sale. Picture: Christie's via Reuters

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One of the world’s largest lunar* meteorites* is up for sale.

The Moon rock, weighing more than 13.5kg, was probably chipped off the surface of the moon by a collision with an asteroid* or comet* and then showered down on the Sahara Desert.

Auction company Christie’s is selling the rock and has valued it at about $3.82 million.

Known as NWA 12691, it is thought to be the fifth largest piece of the Moon ever found on Earth. There is just 650kg of Moon rock known to be on Earth.

“The experience of holding a piece of another world in your hands is something you never forget,” said James Hyslop, Christie’s head of science and natural history.

“It is an actual piece of the Moon. It is about the size of a football, a bit more oblong* than that, larger than your head.”

It was found in the Sahara by an anonymous finder before being passed onto someone else to be studied.

Scientists can be certain of its origin after comparing it with rock samples brought back by the Apollo space missions to the Moon.

“In the 1960s and 1970s the Apollo program brought back about 400kg of Moon rock with them and scientists have been able to analyse the chemical and isotopic compositions (what the rocks are made of) of those rocks and they have determined that they match certain meteorites,” said Hyslop.

Meteorites are incredibly rare and only about one in 1000 comes from the Moon, making this a very special object, he added.

“We are expecting huge international interest in it from natural history museums … it is a wonderful trophy for anyone who is interested in space history or lunar exploration.”

“Unified Geologic Map of the Moon” media_camera“Unified Geologic Map of the Moon” showing the geology of the Moon’s near side (left) and far side (right), made with six Apollo-era regional geological maps, updated based on data from recent satellite missions. Picture: NASA/GSFC/USGS

MAPPING THE MOON
The first-ever geological* map of the Moon has been created – revealing the lunar surface in never-before-seen detail.

NASA will be able to use the colourful new map to plan future missions to the Moon.

It was created using Apollo-era maps and the latest data* from satellites.

The map was created by the United States Geological Survey, an agency of the US government and is available to view online for free.

Geological map of the Moon

“People have always been fascinated by the Moon and when we might return,” said current USGS Director and former NASA astronaut Jim Reilly.

“So, it’s wonderful to see USGS create a resource that can help NASA with their planning for future missions.”

NASA is planning to send astronauts back to the Moon by 2024 with its Artemis mission.

media_cameraArtist’s impression of Artemis astronauts on the Moon. Picture: NASA via AP

Having a detailed understanding of the lunar surface will help NASA decide where to explore.

Part of NASA’s plan for the Moon is to set up a stop-off point on the way to Mars.

It’s hoped that a sustained* human presence on the Moon will be achievable by 2028.

GLOSSARY

  • lunar: to do with the Moon
  • meteorites: meteors that make it to Earth’s surface
  • asteroid: minor planets
  • comet: small, icy space object that heats up when it passes the Sun to create a tail of gas
  • oblong: a shape between an oval and a rectangle
  • geological: relating to the structure of the Earth
  • data: information
  • sustained: continuing, rather than just a quick visit

EXTRA READING

Hunt is on for missing Moon rocks

NASA reveals camp plans for life on the Moon

NASA prepares to open historic Moon vault

Massive asteroid zooming past Earth

QUICK QUIZ

  1. What created this chunk of Moon rock?
  2. How many kilograms of Moon rock is thought to be on Earth?
  3. How much Moon rock was brought back to Earth by Apollo missions?
  4. Why could a map of the Moon be useful?
  5. Where did the information come from to make the Moon maps?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Moon Rock For Sale
Create a one-page A4 advertisement for the Moon rock that is up for sale. Your ad should have a catchy heading, a picture and details persuading people that they need to own this piece of moon rock for the bargain price of approximately $3.82 million!

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Critical and creative thinking

2. Extension
Why is this geological map of the Moon so important for future space travel? What does topography mean? Can you guess what the different colours on the moon map might represent?

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Science, Critical and creative thinking

VCOP ACTIVITY
Punctuation Pursuit
After reading the article, with a partner, highlight as many pieces of punctuation as you can find in green. Discuss how these are being used, where and how often. What level of the punctuation pyramid is the journalist using in this article?

HAVE YOUR SAY: Would you buy this Moon rock? What else would you spend that amount of money on?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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