Back to top

50th anniversary of the moon landing

From July 20, 2019 until October 11, 2019

On July 20, 2019, half a century ago, Neil Armstrong was the first man who walked on the moon. He and his colleagues Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and Michael Collins started their journey on July 16, 1969 with the Apollo 11 to the moon 380,000 kilometers away. 600 million people worldwide watched that event live on television or radio and thus witnessed the climax of the "competition to the moon" which the USA and the Soviet Union had been facing since the beginning of the 1960s.

Until today the moon is an important component within the research for the emergence of Earth. With a multitude of craters and rocks, it serves as a reference for impact events that took place on Earth in the same period, but are no longer visible. The moon samples and scientific findings of the Apollo missions are therefore still of great importance for science today.

The displayed moon sample was collected by an astronaut from the Apollo 17 mission who was trained on the border between Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. Dieter Stöffler, later director of the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, trained several astronauts in the summer of 1970 in an impact crater in the Nördlinger Ries, about 26 kilometres in size, to recognize special rock forms and to take samples. The Apollo 14 and Apollo 17 teams underwent this field training.

There are 382 kilograms of moon samples from the Apollo missions, 301 grams from the Luna missions and 229 kilograms of moon meteorites existing worldwide. They are the subject of geological, mineralogical and physical research into the formation of the planetary system.  Scientists of the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin analyse meteorites, observe craters on planetary surfaces and create computer simulations. They work closely together in a network financed by the German Research Foundation (DFG), which also includes the Freie Universität zu Berlin, the Technische Universität Berlin, the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster and the German Aerospace Center.

On this occasion, the Museum für Naturkunde shows a real moon sample collected on NASA's last manned lunar mission.

The moon Sample can be found in the entrance hall on the left, next to the Dinosaur Hall.


With friendly support of: