Moon Rock from Apollo 17 Mission in Pakistan Museum

Pakistan has a piece of the Moon! It is a gift from the Apollo 17 astronauts to President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1973. The moon rock is housed in the National Museum of Karachi and was not displayed for many years. However, in 2014, it was included in a special exhibition with the help of NASA engineer Zainab Nagin Cox.

Museums all over the world have fascinating and sometimes peculiar artifacts. Take the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, for example. It holds a glass bottle that supposedly contains a trapped witch. No one has dared to open it. Meanwhile, in Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum, microscope slides hold sections of Albert Einstein’s brain. Each slice is only 20 microns thick and stained with cresyl violet. Despite the challenges faced by many museums in Pakistan due to neglect, they too have collections of rare and intriguing objects, like a piece of moon rock!

One such treasure is an actual piece of the Moon, preserved in an acrylic sphere. It resides hidden away from the public eye in the reserves of the National Museum of Pakistan in Karachi. This lunar sample was brought to Earth by astronauts of NASA’s Apollo 17 mission, the final manned expedition to the Moon. Other lunar rocks from various sources. It includes the Soviet Luna Programme and lunar meteorites, found in museums worldwide.

Unique Gift

The Moon rock in Pakistan was gifted to President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto by the Apollo 17 astronauts during their visit to the country in June 1973. This visit aimed to raise awareness about NASA’s space missions, and Moon rocks were presented as goodwill gestures to allied nations. Apollo 17, launched on December 7, 1972, marked the last time humans set foot on the lunar surface. The astronauts spent three days on the Moon, using a Lunar Roving Vehicle to explore and collect samples.

Upon their arrival in Karachi, the Apollo 17 astronauts were warmly welcomed. They visited significant sites, including the Mazar-e-Quaid and Karachi University, where they engaged with students and scientists. Pakistan and NASA collaborated closely on space research at the time.

The Moon rock from Apollo 17 originated from the Taurus-Littrow Valley. It was mounted on a wooden plaque alongside a Pakistani flag carried on the spacecraft. Many similar plaques given to other nations have been lost or stolen over the years. Concerns arose about the fate of Pakistan’s Moon Rock when it disappeared from public view.

However, writer Muhammad Adil Mulki’s investigation led to the rediscovery of the rock. In 2014, with the help of NASA engineer Zainab Nagin Cox, the Moon rock was displayed once again in Karachi after twelve years.

However, its display serves as a reminder of Pakistan’s contributions to space research and the hidden treasures awaiting rediscovery in its museums.

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