BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – Louisiana has recovered a lost lunar rock that was gifted to it by the United States to commemorate the last manned U.S. space mission to the Moon. It was discovered in the possession of a man who repurposes wooden plaques.
The Louisiana State Museum had the rock from 1972’s Apollo 17 landing on Tuesday, The Advocate of Baton Rouge reported. According to the newspaper, the rock was returned to Louisiana by a Florida resident who wanted to make a gun repair using wood from the plaque which held it.
Robert Pearlman, a journalist and historian of space, first reported the news in CollectSpace on Monday.
Steven Maklansky, interim director of the museum, said that he was just happy it was here.
In the mid-1970s, the Nixon administration presented hundreds of lunar fragments to foreign countries and states. These include samples taken by Neil Armstrong during the 1969 first moon landing.
However, many of these were lost later.
Louisiana also had an Apollo 11 Rock that was believed to be missing. But The Advocate discovered that it was still in storage at Louisiana Art and Science Museum.
It is unclear when or how the Apollo 17 rock disappeared. It is enclosed in an acrylic ball and attached to a wooden plate with miniature replicas of the state’s flag and inscriptions.
Pearlman was told by the Florida man who found it that he bought the plaque from a garage sale sometime in the last 15 years. He was looking for old plaques to refinish the guns’ stocks and had just found it in his collection.
Pearlman claimed that the man refused to be identified.
Maklansky stated that the museum plans to continue reviewing its authenticity but officials aren’t sure what they will do.