Friday, August 28, 2009

'Moon rock' in Dutch museum is just petrified wood

The Dutch national museum said yesterday that one of its most prized possessions, a rock supposedly brought back from the moon by U.S. astronauts, is just a piece of petrified wood.

In an investigation into the piece, a space expert told the Rijksmuseum it was unlikely NASA would have given away any moon rock so soon after Apollo returned to Earth.

Rijksmuseum spokeswoman Xandra van Gelder, said the museum will keep the relic as a curiosity. 'It's a good story, with some questions that are still unanswered,' she said. 'We can laugh about it.'

The museum acquired the rock after the death of former prime minister Willem Dreesman in 1988.

Dreesman received it as a private gift in 1969 from then-U.S. ambassador J. William Middendorf who accompanied the Apollo 11 astronauts on a visit to The Netherlands after the first moon landing.

Mr Middendorf told how the rock came from the U.S. State Department, but couldn't recall the exact details. 'Apparently no one thought to doubt it, since it came from the prime minister's collection,' Ms Van Gelder said.

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