Copyright © Astronomy Roadshow All rights Reserved

There was a case when a moon rock was given to former Holland Prime Minister Willem Drees during a goodwill tour by the three Apollo 11 astronauts shortly after their moon mission in 1969. When Mr Drees died, a rock went on display at the Amsterdam museum.  It was recognised by a geologist that it was not the genuine article; it turned out to be a piece of Petrified Wood.

The legal officials that found this sample in a draw in Mr Drees's home were not geologists and simply assumed the sample was the moon rock in question and was put on display. No geologists were employed at the Art Museum. Four years passed when a geologist visitor recognised the rock as Petrified wood.

All of this particular series of 150 or so original moon rocks given out to be displayed around the world were encased in Perspex but the petrified wood was not. This should have been a give-away but this was not known to the people involved. 

The original moon rock given to Mr Drees was never found. The British National Space Centre hires out moon samples as well as Meteorites and Crystals. If one doesn't read the instructions, you may well be examining a meteorite thinking it was lunar material. 

What about the other 400kg of samples that is examined by geologists & chemists around the world? Can they not tell the difference between petrified wood & moon rock? A fun story; but human error alone is to blame for the mix up. 

Wooden rocks?