Romania lunar sample displays
Location of Romania (dark green):
The Romania lunar sample displays are two commemorative plaques consisting of small fragments of moon specimen brought back with the Apollo 11 and Apollo 17 lunar missions and given in the 1970s to the people of Romania by United States President Richard Nixon as goodwill gifts.
The Romanian 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 Romanian flag that was taken to the moon and back on Apollo 11.
The 4 "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 one foot square on a small podium pedestal display. The small podium plaque display also has mounted on it a small Romanian flag that was taken to the moon and back, which lies directly below the "goodwill moon rocks". The small podium plaque display was given to the people of Romania 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 Romanian Apollo 11 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 Romanian 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 Romanian 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 Romania 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.
The Romania Apollo 11 lunar sample display with its four rice-size "moon rocks" received by Nicolae Ceaușescu in 1970 from U.S. President Richard Nixon was initially thought to be lost. However, Associated Press reported in September 2009 that the commemorative wooden display is securely kept at the National History Museum in Bucharest.
The Romania Apollo 17 lunar sample display is believed to have been sold off with the items from Ceaușescu's estate after he and his wife were executed on Christmas Day during the Romanian Revolution of 1989 that marked the end of his regime. Joseph Gutheinz, a former NASA special agent and self-proclaimed moon rock private investigator and lunar sample display tracker, found evidence through research conducted by his University of Phoenix graduate students in 2003 that Ceaușescu's estate may have sold the Romania Apollo 17 "goodwill moon rocks" plaque display at auction to raise funds. In 2009 Jurnalul Național reported that the Romanian government did not receive an Apollo 17 "goodwill moon rocks" plaque display. Gutheinz inquired with the United States National Archives and Records Administration and they verified that the Romania Apollo 17 lunar sample display was in fact presented to Ceaușescu, despite Romania's denial. The podium-style wooden plaque with the Lucite ball containing the 1 gram "moon rock", and Romania's national flag, has not been seen since Ceaușescu's estate auction sale in 1998.
In 1998 the Romania Apollo 17 "goodwill moon rocks" plaque display was believed to have been a part of the two-part exhibition at the National History Museum of Bucharest, which also contained the Apollo 11 lunar sample display, as reported by Bucharest Business Week.
- 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.
- Associated Press (May 23, 2012). "Tales of lunar rocks through the years". Retrieved November 2, 2012.
- "A Memoir: A Decade-Plus of Tracking / LUNAR LARCENY". Earth (magazine) (American Geosciences Institute): 50. March 2011.
- Lyford, Rebecca (March 13, 2009). "The Moon has Amazed People for Eons". 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.
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