HomeNewsGreeceRare Apollo mission moon rock returns to Cyprus after 50 years

Rare Apollo mission moon rock returns to Cyprus after 50 years

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A rare moon rock which was brought back by US astronauts during an Apollo lunar landing 50 years ago, has been returned to its original destination – the island of Cyprus. 

According to Ekathimerini, the 1.1 gram piece of moon rock was on display on Thursday at an exhibition hosted by the Cyprus Space Exploration Organisation to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the last of the US Apollo lunar landings and the Artemis mission. 

“We have the moon rock, which we feel is perfect timing because it’s 50 years after it was brought to Earth,” George Danos, President of the Organisation, said.

George Danos, President of the Cyprus Space Exploration Organisation. Photo: InnovaSpace

The rock is encased in a plastic globe with a plaque underneath a small flag of Cyprus. The plaque reads: “This fragment is a portion of a rock from the Taurus Littrow valley of the Moon. It is given as a symbol of the unity of human endeavour and carries with it the hope of the American people for a world at peace.”

The lunar sample was one of 270 brought back to Earth from similar moon missions in 1969 and 1972 that the Nixon administration gifted to foreign countries.

The item vanished amid war and internal strife in Cyprus during 1974. It was eventually returned to NASA in the US and locked inside a vault.

A spectator looks at the moon rock on display at the exhibit. Photo: Petros Karadjias

According to Joseph Gutheinz, an instructor at the University of Arizona and former investigator for NASA who has been tracking down missing moon rocks, the Cyprus moon sample was taken by the relative of a US diplomat who had been posted to the US Embassy in Nicosia, Cyprus.

Gutheinz put pressure on the individual with the rock to ‘do the right thing’ and return it to NASA in 2009. After five months of negotiating the rock was returned.

Through the efforts of Mr Danos, the lunar rock has made its way back to Cyprus and was handed over to the Cypriot people during a ceremony at the presidential palace on December 16. 

Source: Ekathimerini.

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