The Earth is the cradle of humanity, but humanity will not stay in the cradle forever.
This is an important reason why humans have been exploring space.
And as the closest star in space to Earth, the Moon has been the original target of human exploration.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the United States took a step forward with the Apollo program, which was a manned lunar landing, and collected and retrieved about 380 kg of lunar samples through the Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17 missions, thus opening a new chapter in human research on the Moon.
And with that, the United States became the first country to return from sampling the moon before the Soviet Union and China.
The rocks and soils of the Moon have always been considered of special value for the study of the solar system, so when the United States took the lead in bringing them back to Earth, they became the best credentials for the United States to show its power internationally and the best gifts for diplomacy.
During that time, the United States gave samples of the Moon to 135 countries and territories on two separate occasions as "national gifts", and a number of United States possessions also received portions of the Moon rock.
As a country in the same capitalist camp as the United States in the context of the U.S.-Soviet Cold War, the Netherlands was rightfully one of the recipients of the lunar samples.
However, in 2009, the National Museum of the Netherlands confirmed that the "moon rock" "sent" by the United States was a fake, which obviously posed a serious threat to the reputation of the United States.
Soon after, the former U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands who gave the "fake moon rock" publicly stated, "I didn't say it was a moon rock," and since then, the controversy surrounding the two countries has attracted worldwide attention.
U.S. Lunar Sample Flow
Over a three-year period from 1969 to 1972, the United States collected approximately 380 kilograms of lunar rocks, core specimens, gravel, sand and dust, divided into 2,200 samples for preservation, through the Apollo series of missions.
Some of the samples brought back from the Apollo 11 and 17 missions were later involved in massive international giveaways.
It was the then President of the United States, Richard Nixon, who gave this order.
The first major international gift took place in 1969.
At that time, the United States gave 135 countries and some U.S. possessions and states a total of 250 samples of lunar dust, each of which contained 0.05 grams of lunar dust.
To be sure, the Netherlands, as an ally of the United States in the context of the U.S.-Soviet Cold War at the time, was given a sample of lunar dust.
And the second major international giveaway occurred the year after the return of Apollo 17, in 1973.
According to official NASA releases at the time, Apollo 17 brought back a total of 756 samples.
Of these, one sample, number 70017, with a full weight of 2.957 kg, was partially split, and some 189 samples were given to 135 countries and territories, as well as to 50 states and 4 possessions of the United States, at a standard weight of 1 gram each.
They were encased in small acrylic plastic boxes and mounted again in commemorative plaques with the flags of the recipient countries.
It was at this time that Holland got a second copy of Moonstone.
The U.S. government was not exactly geared toward the same countries in the two massive gifts.
But the Netherlands did obtain samples of lunar rocks brought back by Apollo 11 and 17 at the same time.
However, for all moon rocks given away, the U.S. government is not certain of their ultimate destination and preservation.
Because at the time the moon rocks were given, the United States made a stipulation stating that the samples sent were no longer subject to U.S. tracking and that the recipient country could dispose of them at its own discretion.
In most cases, the recipient countries use half of these moon rock samples for research and half are kept on display in institutions such as museums.
However, a number of countries have made the wrong demonstration in preserving these moon rock samples.
Some countries have suffered accidents resulting in the destruction of samples of moon rocks while they were being preserved or exhibited.
For example, the Apollo 11 moondust sample received by Ireland was damaged in a subsequent fire.
The other type of "destruction" is even more serious: it is lost or stolen, or even smuggled and trafficked into the private possession of officials.
For example, after the Soviet Union sold a 0.2 gram sample of moon rock for over $440,000, there were a number of people who saw the money and targeted countries with extremely lax security systems.
For example, a sample of moon rock obtained by the Republic of Honduras in 1973 was managed to be stolen by a retired colonel more than 20 years later.
And in 2004, the Natural History Museum in Malta's capital, Mdina, also met its fate with the theft of moon rock samples from Apollo 17, which have since been lost.
What is most outrageous is that the samples of moon rocks given to the Republic of Cyprus by the United States Government in 1973 never reached the people of Cyprus from the very beginning, but were intercepted in the middle of the process by the son of an American diplomat at the very beginning.
It was not until after this sample suddenly appeared on the black market in 2003 that the United States Government was informed of the situation, but made no indication.
More offshore samples have also gone to complex and controversial destinations due to political changes in their countries.
Dutch "False Moon Rock"
For a long time, the Dutch National Museum has held a "valuable" collection.
It was owned by the late former Dutch Prime Minister Willem de Rijs during his lifetime until after his death in 1988, when it was donated to the Dutch National Museum.
This collection was long thought to be the "moon rock" brought back from the first Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969.
For this reason, the Dutch National Museum has even put a sky-high insurance policy of up to £300,000 on it, and would not normally bring it to display lightly.
In this case, basically no one inside the museum doubts the authenticity of this "moon rock", while people outside the museum have no way to doubt it because they have no access to it.
Therefore, the Dutch National Museum has been indulging in the dream of having a sample of the moon since 1988, when it received the "moon rock".
However, falsehoods do not come true, and dreams have a way of waking up.
It was 2006 when the Dutch National Museum sensed that something was wrong.
During the year, the "moon rock", which had been in the collection for 18 years, was exhibited for the first time at the Dutch National Museum in an exhibition on space exploration, thus attracting curious experts and people.
This is when a space expert noticed something unusual about this "moon rock".
According to information provided by the Dutch National Museum, the so-called "moon rock" was obtained by the late former Dutch Prime Minister Willem de Rijs in October 1969, three months after the Apollo 11 mission to the moon.
At that time, the Netherlands did welcome the American Ambassador William Middendorf and a delegation of three Apollo 11 astronauts, the latter in particular receiving a hero's welcome.
William Middendorf, the American ambassador at the time, presented William Dresser with a stone weighing 89 grams, nearly the size of his fist, and overall dark red in color, claiming it was a personal gift to him.
When presenting the stone, Wilhelm Middendorf also included a plaque with the words "Greetings from Ambassador Wilhelm Middendorf of the United States of America in honour of the visit of the Apollo 11 astronauts to the Netherlands".
Although the plate does not mention that it came from the moon, at that point in time, it would have been difficult for William Dresser not to assume that it was a "moon rock" based on the words written on the plate.
In 1988, William Dresser died and part of his belongings were donated to the Dutch National Museum by his family, including this stone.
What one space expert found unusual in 2006 was that the plate was given only three months after the Apollo 11 moon landing and that the "moon rock" was overweight.
In his opinion, the United States could not have gifted the Netherlands a moon rock of this size in such a short time when it was of great research value and the Netherlands was not the strongest ally of the United States.
The space expert quickly voiced his suspicions to the Dutch National Museum, which, in turn, was alerted to the situation and called in experts in the field for final confirmation of the collection's authenticity.
NBC reported on August 27, 2009 on the publicly released identification by Sandra van Gelder, head of the Dutch National Museum.
The identification showed that the "moon rock" in the Dutch National Museum was indeed a fake, and that it was just an ordinary piece of fossil wood.
In the face of this oops, many people in the country have shown a teasing attitude, and many even believe that the Americans are faking to screw their allies.
However, soon the US side also gave its attitude that "I didn't say it was moon rock".
When U.S. Ambassador Willem Middendorf presented the fossil to the late Dutch Prime Minister Willem de Rais in 1969, he did not give any definitive answer as to whether it was a "moon rock" or not.
This point was reiterated by William Middendorf in a press interview after the Moonstone was confirmed as a fake in the Dutch National Museum collection.
However, even Middendorf did not know the origin and authenticity of this "moon rock".
This was reported in The Oath newspaper, where it was reported that Middendorf had defended himself in an interview.
According to him, he had received the stone from the United States State Department, so he was not aware of any other details, except that former Dutch Prime Minister de Rais was "very satisfied" with the stone when he received it.
And the descendants of Dres were equally ignorant of this.
In a later interview with the Associated Press, Dresser's grandson engaged in some speculation.
He suggests that Dres was 83 years old when he received the stone and, although lucid, was nearly deaf, and that perhaps Dres did not hear Middendorf's account but "had his own ideas" about the stone's origin.
In other words, Dresser's grandson guessed that Dresser took it for granted that the rock was Moonstone.
The Dutch National Museum also made a joke because they didn't have much doubt about the "Prime Minister's collection".
The Dutch National Museum spokesman Geld said in an interview that the museum did not doubt the authenticity of the collection after receiving it, but also briefly made a call to NASA to confirm the authenticity, however, the latter did not make a reply other than "it is possible that the Netherlands received the moon rock". No details were given.
Apparently, this response has somewhat misled the Dutch National Museum into believing that it is the moon rock, based on the fact that it had little doubt that it was the "Prime Minister's collection".
As a result, the Dutch National Museum later even went so far as to insure it for up to £300,000.
Yet the truth is, as geologist Frank Bionk put it, "it's an ordinary, worthless rock."
Where the real moon rocks go in the Netherlands
Although the "moon rock" in the collection of the Dutch National Museum is a fake moon rock, it does not mean that the moon rocks given to the Netherlands by the United States in 1969 and 1973 are fake.
In 2009, following the definitive identification of the "fake moon rock" by the Dutch National Museum and in the face of public skepticism, the Associated Press made a request to NASA in September of the same year.
According to NASA history expert Jennifer Rose Nazar, the two major international gifts of lunar samples at the time in question were handled by the U.S. State Department, so no records of the gifts were left on the part of the space agency and could not be verified on the issue.
Later, based on other sources, the Associated Press found a website that had detailed the whereabouts of the U.S. gift of lunar samples and, based on that website, followed the Burghardt Museum in Leiden, Netherlands.
Access to the official website of the Burghaupt Museum clearly reveals records of the collection from its catalogue, and the Burghaupt Museum's description of the collection explicitly includes two samples of moon rocks that had been given to the Netherlands by the U.S. government.
They are the samples brought back from Apollo 11 and Apollo 12, respectively, and are in the collection of the Burkhov Museum under the numbers V09113 and V09114.
Collection V09113 and V09114 are the only two samples of moon rocks currently available in the Netherlands, encased in a small spherical Plexiglas container and accompanied by a Dutch flag.
The Associated Press was able to determine that the two moon rock samples were of United States origin because, in addition to the fact that they were scientifically proven authentic, they were accompanied by a base plaque with the words "From Richard Nixon, President of the United States of America, to the people of the Kingdom of the Netherlands".
The Bollhauf Museum website clearly states that all of these moon rocks were given to Queen Juliana, the head of state of the Netherlands at the time.
And the reason why the people of the Netherlands have paid so little attention to these two samples of real moon rocks is that they are not part of the permanent public display collection of the Burghardt Museum.
Even records from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands show that the Boerhaave Museum did not display samples of Apollo 17 moon rocks until the period from October 2019 to early 2020.
This is what made it so that for a long time, many Dutch people were unsure where the real Moonstone went.
New advances in moon rock collection and research
In addition to the Netherlands, many other countries have received samples of moon rocks from the United States.
China, on the other hand, received 1 gram of moon rock during a 1978 visit to China by U.S. President Jimmy Carter's security affairs adviser Brzezinski.
This 1 gram of moon rock, which at the time amounted to one of the goodwill of the United States in promoting the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States, was later divided in two by our country, half of which was used for experiments and half of which was collected for display in the Beijing Planetarium.
The reason why many countries, including the Netherlands and China, attach great importance to these lunar samples is that they are of great importance to human studies of the geological evolution of the Moon.
In addition to this, activities such as the collection, retrieval and study of lunar samples have become more important because of the large amount of very valuable mineral resources in the lunar soil and the potential for sustainable resource support for future space exploration.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, two world powers, the United States and the Soviet Union, embarked on this aspect of the operation, bringing back from the Moon about 380 kg and about 324 g of lunar rock and lunar soil, respectively.
They thus became the first and second countries to bring back samples from the Moon.
No other country was able to complete the mission for nearly half a century after that, until December 2020, when the Chinese Chang'e 5 return vehicle landed safely with 1,731 grams of collected lunar samples, which allowed the gears of lunar sample research to turn again.
China thus became the third country to return from sampling the moon.
The lunar samples brought back by Chang'e-5 are also considered to be of high research value, as the area where Chang'e-5 collected lunar samples is completely different from the previous collection sites of the United States and the Soviet Union, and has not been visited by probes from other countries.
In response, many countries, especially the United States, also hope that "China will share its data with the global scientific community to enhance human understanding of the Moon".
Wu Yanhua, deputy director of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), said in an interview that China would share the lunar samples and data management methods with scientists from relevant countries and the world in accordance with conventions and agreements.
At the same time, he also noted that some of the samples would be given "or given as national gifts" in accordance with international practice.
In July 2021, China adopted 31 applications from 13 scientific institutions and held a ceremony to distribute the first lunar scientific samples, with a total of 17.4764 grams of samples.
And more than three months later, a second batch of lunar research samples totaling 17.936 grams was distributed.
The Chinese side also quickly produced some scientific results as researchers actively began to study the Chang'e 5 lunar samples.
For example, on 19 October 2021, researchers from the Institute of Geology and Earth Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the National Astronomical Observatory concluded that the Chang'e 5 lunar sample is a new class of lunar sea basalt with a minimum age of 2 billion years.
And after that until 13/12/12, other research teams in China also found low, medium and high titanium basalt types in lunar samples one after another, tentatively speculating that there may have been multiple volcanic eruptions in the Chang'e 5 lunar landing zone.
At present, in addition to continuing the in-depth study of Chang'e 5 lunar samples, China is also planning another series of exploration engineering missions for the Moon and Mars, and is considering international cooperation to demonstrate the basic capability of building a lunar research station.
It's safe to say that mankind still has a long way to go in the exploration of space.
The "moon rock" given by the United States is actually rotten wood, which has been treasured by the Netherlands for 21 years.
Where did the 1 gram of moon rock gifted to China by the US go? [China News Network]
"The countdown to the moon, why China wants to go to the moon "digging"? [China News Network]
"Chang'e returns, "moon soil" to new home Man brings lunar samples back to Earth again after 44 years [China News].