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Updated: Monday, 26 Nov 2012, 11:47 PM EST
Published : Monday, 26 Nov 2012, 10:59 PM EST
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - A local jewelry store will never have a stone as precious as one kept in its vault over the past few days. Not even once in a blue moon.
The Shane Company on East 96th had a moon rock in its vault. The store manager did it as a favor for the organizers of a local Star Trek convention.
Kim Huff of Star Base Indy said she expected another local company to secure the rock while it was in town. But, that company backed out. So, when she saw a Shane Company sign, she hoped they could find space for the moon rock.
Robert Terry, the store manager, said he wasn't sure what to make of the request. "It was kind of a weird conversation," he told 24-Hour-News 8. So, on Thanksgiving, he made sure his vault was suited for such a priceless piece from another world.
Members of the Apollo 15 crew brought the rock back to earth after a moon mission in the summer of 1971. It's a piece of a larger sample that, by NASA's estimate, is 3.9 billion years old, older than 99% of all earth rocks. The bigger piece of the moon rock is part of "a continuing program of investigation." The smaller piece that came to Indianapolis travels encased in a plastic pyramid.
Astronaut David Wolf of Indianapolis describes the sample as "one of the oldest rocks known to humans." It travels while "the larger pieces that it came from are stored under nitrogen, in the right pressures and temperatures, to preserve the scientific data."
David Wolf grew up in Indianapolis, served on several missions for NASA, and recently retired from the space program. Over the years, he's also escorted several "rather rare artifacts" such as the moon rock.
This past weekend, he also was a special guest at the Star Trek convention, Star Base Indy. "These people have a vision -- always have -- for where humans will explore and achieve. You could feel that at the convention."
Star Base Indy also intended Wolf and the NASA display as a tribute to the late Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. Of Armstrong, Wolf said "he really did represent the kind of person that we wanted to send to the moon, first. He was a great ambassador for all of us."
Robert Terry said his staff was curious about the special display. It arrived on Thanksgiving. But, no one pried about the contents. "We kept it really quiet," Terry said. "We didn't really want anybody to know until today. So it was kept quiet until now." So, the morning shift at Shane Company walked in to a gathering of Star Base Indy members, David Wolf in his NASA jacket, and photographers.
Marvin Sachs, a salesperson, said it was "flabbergasting. No other word I can use. It's unbelievable." He and other members of the staff lined-up for autographs from Wolf and to pose for pictures with the moon rock.
Papers had to be signed to document the rock's return to Wolf and NASA's custody.
Then, before Wolf walked out with the precious cargo, Terry said "it's probably a once-in-a-lifetime event that just happened here."