Apollo 17 Moon Rock

Whole Object Name

Apollo 17 Moon Rock

Collection

Space Rocks

Description

Lunar sample - number 74255,14. It was collected in December 1972 during Apollo 17, the last manned mission to the Moon. Astronauts Harrison Schmitt and Gene Cernan collected this sample by prying it from a large fractured boulder near the rim of Shorty Crater.

Each sample of Moon Rock collected on the Apollo missions was given a unique identity number, in this case 74255. The 14, reveals that the small fragment we currently display is part 14 of a larger rock (74255) that was broken up for scientific investigation once it was returned to Earth. The first digit (7) is used for any rock collected on Apollo 17, with the rest of the digits relating to location of discovery and size of the specimen.

The Moon Rock weighs 67.553 grams. Lunar sample 74255 is designated as a high-titanium basalt, Type C – a vesicular1, porphyritic2, coarse-grained basalt with abundant ilmenite (a titanium-iron oxide mineral). The crystallisation age of 74255 puts it to about 3.8 billion years old, with an exposure age of around 17 million years – it was found on the edge of a crater that is thought to be around 19 million years old.

1 Vesicular - a rock pitted with many cavities on its surface and inside.
2 Porphyritic - a rock with distinctly different sizes of crystals within it.

Object number

2001-34
  • image Moon Rock - Apollo 17 sample 74255,14 - Credit: National Space Centre/NASA
  • image Shorty Crater with Lunar Rover alongside. The large fractured boulder behind and to the right of the Rover is where this Moon Rock sample was collected from - Credit: NASA
  • image NASA photograph AS17-137-20990. Moon rock sample 74255 was taken from the large fractured boulder near the top of the picture - Credit: NASA
  • image Area where Moon Rock sample 74255 was collected from has been highlighted in this image - Credit: NASA
  • image Moon Rock sample 74255 before being broken up for research. The piece on display at the National Space Centre was originally part of this larger rock - Credit: NASA
  • image Moon Rock sample 74255 after it was broken up for research purposes. The piece on display at the National Space Centre is number 14 (top left) - Credit: NASA
  • image Moon Rock - Apollo 17 sample 74255,14 - Credit: National Space Centre/NASA
  • image Shorty Crater with Lunar Rover alongside. The large fractured boulder behind and to the right of the Rover is where this Moon Rock sample was collected from - Credit: NASA
  • image NASA photograph AS17-137-20990. Moon rock sample 74255 was taken from the large fractured boulder near the top of the picture - Credit: NASA
  • image Area where Moon Rock sample 74255 was collected from has been highlighted in this image - Credit: NASA
  • image Moon Rock sample 74255 before being broken up for research. The piece on display at the National Space Centre was originally part of this larger rock - Credit: NASA
  • image Moon Rock sample 74255 after it was broken up for research purposes. The piece on display at the National Space Centre is number 14 (top left) - Credit: NASA

Video

Gene Cernan discussing collecting Moon rock samples during Apollo 17 - Credit: National Space Centre/Mark Stewart Productions

Audio

Our Curator discusses the famous orange soil find on Apollo 17

More information

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