LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - It's a rare and special piece of rock, matter of fact there are only a few samples on display on the planet and now a piece of the moon has found a home here in Lufkin.
"It's very rare," said Johnson Space Center, exhibits manager, Beth LeBlanc. "We only have 79 lunar samples on long-term loans around the world so it's not common. This will be 80 for us, so this is an uncommon type of display."
Executive Director of the Naranjo Museum, Dr. Neal Naranjo says he never in his wildest dreams thought he would have a permanent moon rock.
"That's Los Angeles, that's Chicago, that's New York, Washington and now we have a permanent moon rock," said Naranjo.
The 7.6 pound, 3.8 billion year old sample has never been exposed to air or contamination and never will be that's why it's encased in this Lucite pyramid.
"This particular sample is from Apollo 14 and it was, it's probably the largest of our samples that we've collected," said LeBlanc.
LeBlanc says this exhibit is really special because it's one of the largest lunar samples out on display.
"We have a very limited supply of samples, in fact, the majority of the samples are still being studied and they're in a pristine lab," said LeBlanc.
This is not the typical place NASA chooses to put an exhibit like this but Dr. Naranjo and the programming he placed around the temporary moon rock exhibit they had before won them over.
LeBlanc said, "Dr. Naranjo was having students come out here just in droves. It was incredible the amount of participation and programming he did surrounding that particular sample. What better place to put it than some place that has such a connection with NASA that this area does."
Naranjo says soon the rock will have a ipad video-type tour that will walk visitors through all the specifics about the sample.
The moon rock is on permanent loan from NASA at the Naranjo Museum which means it's on loan for five years with the potential for it to stay much longer.
For more information on the Naranjo Museum go here: http://naranjomuseum.org/