Curators put a rare a moon rock brought to Earth by astronauts of NASA's Apollo 15 mission in 1971 on long-term public display at Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe, Ariz. on Saturday.
Named after its collector and the mission's commander, Dave Scott, the Great Scott moon rock weighs about 9.6 kilograms (21.2 pounds) and was found about 12 meters (39 feet) north of the rim of Hadley Rille on August 2, 1971.
The golf ball-sized portion of the Great Scott rock on display weighs about 77 grams, NASA said in a statement, about the weight of a package of Ramen Noodles.
The artifact, however, is not just a rock, but gives astronomers a peak into how planets evolve. Chemically, the rock is composed of silicate materials that were crystallized by 3.3 billion-year-old magna from the moon's mantle.
Most lunar rocks are older than the oldest Earth rocks found to date. Thus the moon can help scientists go back into the early stages of planet formation, explained Mark Robinson, an ASUprofessor who studies the formation and evolution of planets.
The piece of rock on display is in an airtight glass case, the insides of which are filled with inert gas, in order to protect the sample from terrestrial environment, the statement from the space agency added.
This isn't the first time Moon rocks have been displayed in public, but such occasions are rare since these extraterrestrial materials have been subjects of theft.
NASA gave most Moon rock from the Apollo 11 mission to nations as gifts, rock that remains missing or unaccounted for. In some cases, NASA officials reported rock theft during public displays.
The Great Scott exhibit at ASU will be kept in a protective alcove encapsulated in a specially designed display secured by multiple levels of security, according to NASA officials.