Priceless Moon Rock Secured in Temporary New Home

Priceless Moon Rock Secured in Temporary New Home

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News Specialist Keith McCord reporting

The Hansen Planetarium is getting ready to shut down to prepare for its move to The Gateway next spring.

And today, the staff put one of its prized possessions in temporary storage for safe keeping.

In fact, it's now in a vault in a bank.

It's a rock from the moon. It's 3.3 billion years old, and needless to say, it's priceless.

The planetarium folks want to protect it until it's relocated to the Clark Planetarium.

"If you want to know what's the oldest thing that the county has, this has got to be it," says planetarium director Seth Jarvis.

This is the chunk of basalt rock from the surface of the moon. It's been on display at the Hansen Planetarium since 1978.

Today it was boxed up, and then locked up for safekeeping.

"The moon rock is priceless, historically and scientifically. It is part of the cultural and educational fabric of this community," Jarvis says.

"Salt Lake County is very fortunate to have one of the very few moon rocks on permanent loan from NASA. That's very rare," he says.

The moon rock was picked up by Apollo 15 astronaut Dave Scott on August 2, 1971.

The piece that ended up in Utah was part of a much bigger chunk of rock -- one about the size of a football. Astronaut Scott had a little trouble picking it up. At the time, it was the largest moon rock ever brought back to Earth. The crew of the next Apollo mission brought back a larger one.

Even so, Utah has a one-of-a-kind artifact that has thrilled visitors for 24 years.

For the next few months, the rock will be stored in the vault at Zion's Bank. In the spring, it will be part of a brand new exhibit. And this morning, Zion's CEO Scott Anderson made the exhibit even better.

"And we would like to announce, mayor, that we would like to donate to the county $10,000 to help outfit the display for the rock in the new planetarium," Anderson says in a presentation to Salt Lake County Mayor Nancy Workman.

Jarvis says he already knows how he'll spend that money for the exhibit.

The Hansen Planetarium will close its doors on December 28, and the brand new Clark Planetarium will open up in the spring.

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