ATLANTA -- A piece of the second largest moon rock ever collected has taken center stage in a new exhibit which pays tribute to NASA's heralded Apollo moon missions at the Tellus Science Museum.
The Cartersville museum's new exhibit includes a real lunar module engine and an Apollo Rock Hammer similar to ones used by the Apollo astronauts as they explored the moon's surface over forty years ago.
It is the four ounce piece of the moon which has caused the biggest draw of crowds to the exhibit.
"Tellus is proud to display a lunar sample retrieved during Apollo 15," stated Tellus Museum's curator Julian Gray. "The sample is the largest on display in Georgia and is the centerpiece of the new Apollo exhibit."
It was Gray who traveled to NASA Johnson Space Center to collect the prized historic rock for addition to the museum's collection.
Cut from the largest rock collected during Apollo 15, the rock was named "Great Scott" after being plucked from the moon's surface in August 1971 by NASA astronaut and mission commander David Scott.
"Great Scott" measured 10.2 inches in length and weighed in at just over 21 pounds as it sat upon the moon's surface on the north section of Hadley Rille. Once Apollo 15's crew returned to earth, the light grey lunar sample was numbered 15555.
Created from a lava flow over three billion years ago, the sample is made up of olivine basalt, and sits inside a nitrogen filled glass display case so that it does not come in contact with the earth's environment.
As Scott and lunar module pilot Jim Irwin explored the moon during their third moonwalk, Scott located the volcanic rock at 7:42 a.m. EDT on Aug. 1, 1971, "It's a vesicular one. Hey, here's a good vesicular one".
As Scott went down on one knee to lift it, he struggled a bit to lift it up from the surface - not due to it's weight but due to it's size and the use of one pressurized gloved hand.
The moon's 1/6th gravity gave the rock a weight of only 3.3 pounds. Scott eventually got a hold of "Great Scott" resting it on his right thigh as he moon hopped over to the lunar rover and placed it on board.
NASA has listed "Great Scott" as the second largest moon rock ever recovered during the six lunar landings.
The lunar module engine, on loan from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, was test fired by the space agency in Mississippi in 1972.
Adjacent to the Apollo exhibit at Tellus is a new massive gallery featuring several incredible NASA images of the planets and galaxies entitled "From the Earth to the Solar System".
Located northwest of Atlanta off of exit 293 and I-75 in Cartersville, the museum is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The center is closed on July 4th, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Years Day.
(Charles Atkeison reports on aerospace, science and technology. Follow his updates via Twitter @AbsolutSpaceGuy.)