Press Releases

11 June 2002


VIENNA, 11 June (UN Information Service) – A piece of rock from the Moon is being lent to the United Nations at Vienna by the United States of America’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The lunar sample, which is about the size of a golf ball, will be the centrepiece of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA) Space Exhibit inside the Vienna International Centre.

The Moon rock will be the biggest piece in Austria and only the second piece of the Moon in the country. It is being presented today (11 June 2002) to the United Nations Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna, Antonio Maria Costa by the Ambassador of the US Mission to International Organizations in Vienna, Kenneth C. Brill.

Lunar sample 15459,6 (014) is a 160-gram fragment of a 4.8kg Moon rock collected by US astronaut James Irwin during the Apollo 15 mission which landed on the Moon on 30 July 1971. During the mission the astronauts used a Lunar Roving Vehicle to travel nearly five kilometres from their Lunar Module, Falcon.

The moonrock is part of just 342.3kg of lunar rock and soil on Earth that has not been exposed to air or moisture. It is a lunar highland breccia. Breccias were formed by meteors and comets hitting the Moon. This type of rock is 3.9 billion years old, older than most rocks on the Earth’s surface. It is a mixture of rock from the lunar mountains and plains or dark ‘seas’ which can seen from Earth. Lunar rocks do not weather and provide scientists with valuable information on the formation of the planets and the sun.

OOSA is responsible for promoting international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space. It serves as the secretariat for the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its two Subcommittees, promotes the progressive development and codification of international space law and discharges the Secretary-General’s responsibilities under the five international treaties governing outer space. Through its Programme on Space Applications OOSA works to promote the use of space science and technology for the economic and social development of all nations, in particular developing countries.

The Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) will be holding its forty-fifth session in Vienna from 5-14 June 2002.

For more information visit the web site of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs at

* *** *