Netherlands lunar sample displays
Location of the Netherlands (dark green)
The Netherlands lunar sample displays are two commemorative plaques consisting of small fragments of moon specimens brought back with the Apollo 11 and Apollo 17 Moon missions and given to the people of the Netherlands by United States President Richard Nixon as goodwill gifts.
The Netherlands Apollo 11 lunar sample display commemorative podium style plaque consists of four "moon rock" rice size particle specimens that were collected by Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in 1969 and a small Netherland country flag that was taken to the Moon and back.
The four "Moon rocks" weigh about 0.05 grams in total. They are encased in a clear plastic button the size of a coin which is mounted to a wooden board approximately a foot square on a small podium pedestal display. The small podium plaque display also has mounted on it a small Netherlands flag that had been taken to the Moon and back on Apollo 11, which lies directly below the "goodwill moon rocks". The small podium plaque display was given to the people of the country of Netherlands 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 Netherlands Apollo 17 lunar sample display commemorative style plaque (10 by 14 inches) consists of one "moon rock" particle specimen that was cut from lunar basalt 70017 and a Netherlands country flag. The basalt 70017 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 the Netherlands country flag which had been taken to the moon and back by the crew of Apollo 17. The plaque was then distributed in 1973 by President Richard Nixon to the country of Netherlands as he did that year to 134 other countries worldwide (the same as for the Apollo 11 plaque gifts). This was done as a goodwill gesture to promote peace and harmony.
While other "goodwill moon rocks" commemorative plaque displays were reported lost or missing by many recipient countries, both the Netherlands Apollo 11 and Apollo 17 "goodwill moon rocks" commemorative plaque displays are in the country and accounted for. However, in 2009 the Rijksmuseum of the Netherlands declared that the "goodwill moon rock" it had received in 1992 from the estate of Netherlands Prime Minister Willem Drees was bogus. This "moon rock", which had been exhibited for more than decade on a gold-colored piece of cardboard, weighs 89 grams (3.1 ounces) – far larger than the 1 gram piece of lunar basalt 70017 affixed to the Netherlands Apollo 17 lunar sample display. Testing of the Rijksmuseum "moon rock" in 2009 showed it to be a piece of petrified wood, likely from Arizona. The Rijksmuseum had insured this "moon rock" for ƒ100,000 (€50,000 [$85,000] in 2012 currency) upon its receipt.
An investigation showed that United States Ambassador J. William Middendorf II had presented Drees with the "moon rock" on October 9, 1969. The Apollo 11 astronauts were visiting the Netherlands at that time on a goodwill tour. Drees' grandson speculates that his grandfather formed the mistaken impression that the "moon rock" he received was from the Apollo 11 mission. When Drees' "moon rock" was received by the Rijksmuseum in 1992, the museum phoned NASA to verify its provenance and was told over the phone, without seeing the piece, that it was "possible" it was a Moon rock. USA Today says the discovery of a bogus "moon rock" at the Rijksmuseum should serve as a wake-up call for all the countries of the world and all the states of the United States that received the Apollo 11 and 17 lunar plaque displays from the Nixon administration to locate the displays and fully secure them.
According to Moon rock researcher Robert Pearlman, both the Netherlands Apollo 11 and Apollo 17 lunar sample displays are in the National Museum of the History of Science and Medicine in Leiden, Netherlands.
- 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.
- Earth magazine, March 2011, pp. 42-51
- Sterling, Toby (September 14, 2009). "Apollo moon rocks lost in space? No, lost on Earth". USA Today (Amsterdam, Holland: Associated Press). Retrieved November 2, 2012.
- "Where are the moon rocks?". The Rock Collector (Biscuit Software Ltd). September 2004. Retrieved 2 November 2012.
- Pearlman, Robert (August 27, 2009). "Topic: The search for the goodwill moon rocks". collectspace.com. Retrieved November 2, 2012. Associated Press: 'Moon rock' in Dutch museum is just petrified wood
- "Fake Dutch 'moon rock' revealed". BBC News. 28 August 2009. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
- "US gave fake 'moon rock' to Dutch museum". ABC News. August 29, 2009. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
- Kloc, Joe (February 19, 2012). The Case of the Missing Moon Rocks. The Atavist/Amazon Digital Services, Inc. p. 47. ASIN B007BGZNZ8.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wooden plaques.|
- Partial list of Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17 sample locations, NASA Johnson Space Center
- "Dutch Moon Rock Story Dead! FOUND!" (video/YouTube). Boerhaave Museum. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
- Associated Press (May 23, 2012). "Tales of lunar rocks through the years". Las Vegas, Nevada: Seattlepi. Retrieved November 2, 2012.