Cyprus lunar sample displays
The Cyprus lunar sample displays are part of two commemorative plaques consisting of tiny fragments of moon specimens brought back with the Apollo 11 and Apollo 17 lunar missions. These plaques were given to the people of the Republic of Cyprus by United States President Richard Nixon as goodwill gifts.
The Cyprus Apollo 11 lunar sample display commemorative podium plaque consists of four rice-sized particle specimens of Moon rock that were collected by Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in 1969 and a small flag. The four Moon rocks weigh about 0.05 grams in total. They are encased in a clear plastic ball the size of a coin which is mounted to a wooden board approximately one foot square on a small podium pedestal display. The plaque display also has mounted on it a small Cyprus flag that had been taken to the Moon and back on Apollo 11. The plaque display was given to the people of Cyprus as a gift by United States President Richard Nixon. Similar lunar sample displays were also distributed to all the states of the United States and all the countries of the world.
The Cyprus Apollo 17 lunar sample display wooden commemorative plaque (10 by 14 inches) consists of one "moon rock" particle specimen that was cut from lunar basalt 70017. This basalt was collected by Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt on the moon in 1972. Once lunar basalt 70017 was brought back to earth from the moon, the basalt moon rock was cut up into small fragments of approximately 1 gram. The specimen was enveloped in a plastic ball and mounted on the wooden plaque along with Cyprus' country flag which had been taken to the moon and back by the crew of Apollo 17. The plaques were then distributed in 1973 by President Richard Nixon to different countries of the world and the States of the United States as a goodwill gesture.
A retired NASA agent revealed in September 2009 that the Apollo 17 wooden commemorative plaque with the goodwill moon rock intended for the Republic of Cyprus went for sale on the black market in 2003. The international mystery of how the Cyprus goodwill moon rock got to the black market begins in 1960. The Republic of Cyprus then became independent from British control. The residence of the British Governor of Cyprus prior to this was the Government House. The Government House then became the Presidential Palace of the Republic of Cyprus. During a coup of 1974 the Presidential Palace was burned to the ground. The Cyprus "moon rock" plaque from Apollo 17 was considered lost at that time.
The report is that the Cyprus goodwill moon rock plaque wasn't actually given to the Cyprus government. The plaque display with the Apollo 17 "moon rock" and the Cyprus flag were kept at the US embassy in Nicosia for protection during the tumultuous events of the 1974 coup d'état (Turkish invasion). The presentation to the Cyprus government of the plaque of the Cyprus goodwill moon rock of Apollo 17 was temporarily delayed because of these events. Meanwhile US ambassador to Cyprus, Rodger Davies, was killed during this coup. The American diplomatic personnel left the island. During all these events the Cyprus goodwill moon rock plaque mysteriously came up missing. The small plaque, complete with the 1 gram "moon rock" and Cyprus flag, eventually showed up on the black market some 29 years later in 2003. The person that wanted to sell the plaque was the son of the previous US diplomat. US law enforcement stepped in and got involved, but the diplomat relative disappeared as did the wooden plaque with the 'moon rock' and Cyprus flag.
NASA reported in May 2010 that their Office of Inspector General recovered the Apollo 17 plaque and are preparing to re-gift it. The Cyprus Apollo 11 commemorative podium plaque is lost and never was recovered.
- Pearlman, Robert (1999–2012). "Where today are the Apollo 11 goodwill lunar sample displays?". collectspace.com. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
- Pearlman, Robert (1999–2012). "Where today are the Apollo 17 goodwill lunar sample displays". collectspace.com. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
- "Cyprus a victim of lunar larceny". London, UK: Topix Cyprus. September 17, 2009. Retrieved November 4, 2012.
- Tolson, Mike (7 May 2010). "Misplaced From Space: Every nation received a moon rock — some of them can't find it". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
- "Where is the wealth of heaven?". Romania: Jurnalul Naţional. November 9, 2009. Retrieved November 4, 2012.
- Earth, March 2011, pp. 42-51
- Kloc, Joe (February 19, 2012). The Case of the Missing Moon Rocks. The Atavist/Amazon Digital Services, Inc. p. 47. ASIN B007BGZNZ8.
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