Sometimes it seems like we’ve explored every nook and cranny of our home, the hunk of rock we call Earth. NASA has vowed to take us beyond our own planet, and the ones surrounding us, to continue a great exploration of the cosmos.
MSNBC reported in a story yesterday that NASA will be sending four moon rock fragments and a rock from Mount Everest’s summit to the International Space Station. On Wednesday, the rocks were fashioned into a plaque and presented to George Zamka, commander of NASA’s next space shuttle mission, by the first astronaut to summit Earth’s highest mountain, Scott Parazynski.
The article says, “These rocks have already done more than a human being could do in a lifetime," Zamka said during a ceremony conducted at Space Center Houston, the public visitor center for NASA's Johnson Space Center in Texas. "For 4 billion years they were on the moon, undisturbed. They went through an ascent on a spaceship traveling to Earth, and then Scott took them to the limits of human endurance by climbing up with them on Mount Everest. So they already have a tremendous history. They're about to get a mileage upgrade.”
When Parazynski retrieved the Everest rock in May 2009, he was carrying four fragments of the moon collected by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin during the first U.S. lunar landing. He told CollectSpace.com, "These little samples were collected literally worlds apart, but there are other worlds for us to go explore, and [the space station crews] are going to be a part of it."
This isn’t the first time that fragments of Everest and the moon have made the trip to the space station … but it is the first time they’ve booked their tickets on the same flight.
The NASA-prepared plaque that holds the moon rocks and the Everest rock contains a dedication inscription to “honor explorers and heroes Neil Armstrong and Sir Edmund Hilary,” the first men to walk on the moon and to summit Everest.
What a strong statement. Through this plaque the crew of the next space shuttle mission will remember the greatest explorers of our own world, of our planet’s moon, and use those things to look forward to the exploration of worlds beyond our knowledge.
Makes you feel kind of tingly inside doesn’t it?