Colorado's moon rock isn't missing, but its recent history is

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Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it...really fast. Today's Denver Post has a fascinating -- if redundant -- Associated Press story about a Houston lawyer who's tracking down missing moon rocks. At least 180 are unaccounted for -- but not Colorado's.

However, the rock's recent history is missing in action from this story.

Less than two years ago, the Post reported that a moon rock given to Colorado -- part of a "goodwill" donation, which sent two rocks collected by Apollo 17 to all fifty states and 160 countries -- was missing, and could be worth up to $5 million on the black market.

But never mind: Within a day, 7News reported its own scoop: that it had tracked the missing rocks to former Governor John D. Vanderhoof's home office in Grand Junction. "I didn't even know it was anything to have," said Vanderhoof, who was governor from 1973 to 1975. "It's just memories of old stuff I had."

That old stuff -- very old stuff -- is now in the permanent collection of the Colorado School of Mines, where the moon rock display was unveiled as part of a new museum exhibit in August 2010. "On behalf of the people of Colorado, I would like to thank Mines for agreeing to incorporate this important piece of science and history into a public exhibit," then-Governor Bill Ritter said at the dedication. "Residents, visitors and students alike will now have an opportunity to learn -- and to be inspired -- by this new moon rock display. Space exploration is an important part of Colorado's history and economy, and this display will serve as a great testament to where humankind has been, and where we can go."

Particularly if we can remember where we've been.

Want to know more about Colorado's missing moon rock? Read our account in the post "Bill Ritter announces new home for moon rock: Colorado School of Mines' Museum of Geology."

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