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School gets a taste of Moon dust landing in the East End

PUBLISHED: 19:00 21 May 2010 | UPDATED: 16:04 05 October 2010

RARE samples of moon rock and lunar dust landed this week in London’s East End. The Moon dust, not to be confused with Icelandic volcanic dust that has hit airports in Britain, went on display at a school in Whitechapel

By Mike Brooke

RARE samples of moon rock and lunar dust landed this week in London's East End.

The Moon dust, not to be confused with Icelandic volcanic dust that has hit airports in Britain for the past three weeks, went on display at Whitechapel's Swanley Secondary school.

It was collected during NASA's manned space missions to the Moon in the late 1960s and early 70s. Apollo astronauts brought back 382 kilograms of lunar material to Earth.

The display also included meteorites that the youngsters were able to handle to study the differences in the materials they are made from.

The display was loaned to the school by the UK Science & Technology Facilities Council, whose chief executive, Prof Keith Mason, said: "It's amazing that almost 40 years after the Lunar samples were collected, scientists are still not sure how the Moon formed!

"But meteorites tell us a great deal about the places they originated from. It's incredible to think that when you hold a meteorite you're handling something that may have travelled millions of miles to fall on Earth."

The council's collection includes samples from Mars, the planet that has fascinated Mankind for thousands of years. The European Space Agency launched its Mars exploration rocket in 2003, which is still sending back information from the Red Planet which can be viewed on line. It includes evidence of methane that might even point to the existence of life.

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