The Moonrock of the Montreal Science Center originated from NASA's Johnson Space Center on a commercial flight carried in a lunch box.
Credit: Montreal Science Center  MONTREAL ̵
Sara Arsenault, a Montreal Science Center associate, told Space.com she was so nervous when she arrived April was carrying her precious cargo She missed her first flight from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston and forced her to try again.
The 24-gram centerpiece of a new museum exhibit was carefully placed in a lunchbox bag so as not to draw attention of fellow travelers. However, the customs officials were rightly suspicious and were examining a letter of explanation that NASA had sent with it, Arsenault said last Friday (July 20). "And besides, I was so worried that I would forget it in a taxi or something," she recalls. [Should We Open Some Sealed Apollo Moon Samples?]
Despite their adventures, Arsenault managed to safely return to Montreal with her fragment of a 3.8 billion-year-old rock from the 1972 Apollo 17 mission, which was part of the same "touchable" moon, which are in institutions like Space Center Houston and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, she said.
Arsenault has lost the chance to touch a lunar rock during her tour of Space Center Houston. "I wanted this rock to be my first," she said, pointing to the new exhibit, which attracted a large number of visitors to the museum on the first afternoon. The exhibition was inaugurated on the 49th anniversary of the first human moon landing by the crew of Apollo 11 in 1969.
Water throughout the Universe
Arsenault is project manager for the development and production of the Montreal Science Center, which attracts approximately 700,000 visitors annually – half of them coming in the summer months. The museum is located in Montreal's busy Old Harbor on the St. Lawrence Seaway, which serves as an important shipping lane in Canada.
Water is everywhere in this district of Montreal, but there is enough on the moon – perhaps enough to host a colony of astronauts. Several missions have found evidence of hydrogen on the surface that scientists interpret as a signature of water ice. Long-term research by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and a 2017 map created from past LCRAR information (Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite) mapped water in detail for possible future landing missions.
Back in 1969, no one thought there would be water on the moon, Arsenault said, let alone on other worlds in the solar system. Now we know it is abundant – from cracks in Saturn's moon Enceladus hiding in Mercury in permanently shaded areas and even lingering in the atmosphere of Jupiter after fragments of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashed there in 1994.
The new Montreal Museum shows some places for water in the solar system. As it circles the earth, the Canadian Radarsat 2 satellite maps the first few inches of the ground, giving an overview of how the location of the water is changing with climate change. The NASA Mars-Phoenix Mission of 2008 (Canada participated) examined the water ice at the north pole of Mars. The connection of water with life is evident in a 3.77 billion year old rock from northern Quebec with possible fossils in it – among the oldest known on earth. (A study on the Quebec rocks aroused international attention in 2017 when the discovery was first announced.)
The museum officials also threw in some room devices to grab the attention of visitors, even though the hardware not necessarily directly related to water. These include a model of the Robotic Canadarm, which was once exhibited in a facility of the Canadian manufacturer MDA, as well as one of the Apollo lunar landing legs of Montreals Héroux-Devtek (formerly Héroux).
Museum spokesman say that the center has plans for the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 in 2019, but the details are still ongoing. This anniversary is likely to be a popular day for space museums in North America. The Apollo 11 Command Module will be on the day at the Museum of Flight in Seattle as part of an ongoing Smithsonian tour. The Smithsonian itself traditionally plans to program the milestones of Apollo 11's five-year anniversary; It's also refreshing its moon exploration exhibit for 2020.
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