Today: April 19, 2024
Today: April 19, 2024

Travelers through Maine’s biggest airport can now fly to the moon. Or, at least, a chunk of it

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LA Post: Travelers through Maine’s biggest airport can now fly to the moon. Or, at least, a chunk of it
AP
PATRICK WHITTLE
March 26, 2024

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Fly me to the moon. Or, at least, to Maine.

Maine's largest airport is now home to the second largest piece of the moon on Earth, according to moon rock enthusiasts who installed the extraterrestrial chunk. The moon piece is a little bigger than a rugby ball and is on loan to the Portland International Jetport from the Maine Mineral & Gem Museum.

The moon chunk went on display at the airport on Tuesday and organizers said, jokingly, that it gives Maine travelers a chance to go somewhere no other airport can take them — the moon. The piece is housed in an exhibit alongside one of the world's largest pieces of Mars and other samples.

“This exhibit will be full of beautiful examples of meteorite specimens from the moon, Mars and the asteroid 4 Vesta,” said Cari Corrigan, curator of meteorites at the Smithsonian Institution.

The moon chunk weighs about 94 pounds (42.7 kilograms) and is the result of an asteroid striking the moon, said Darryl Pitt, a consultant to the mineral museum and a meteorite dealer. It was found in Libya in 2021, but exactly when the piece fell to Earth is difficult to say, he said.

The piece is usually displayed at the Bethel museum in Maine's western mountains, some 70 miles (112.65 kilometers) from Portland. The museum's organizers said it is home to the largest known pieces of the moon and Mars, as well as the world's largest collection of lunar meteorites.

Organizers said the display of the moon piece at the airport is especially appropriate because of the buzz about the coming total solar eclipse in April.

The National Weather Service has said the total solar eclipse will occur “for a large portion of northern Maine with a partial eclipse for the remainder of the state.”

“We love celebrating unique aspects of Maine and the MMGM is certainly among them,” said Paul Bradbury, the director of the Portland airport.

The moon chunk exhibit is slated to be on display at the airport for five years, organizers said.

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