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Display case provides mini-tour of Earth and space

March 19, 2009

No time to tour the wonders of Earth and space in the museums at ASU? The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has the next best thing – a bite-size, five-minute tour in a display case located in the reception area of the Dean’s Office. 

The display showcases the college’s research interests and features something new every two months. The current display includes a “real moon rock,” image of the Crab Nebula from deep space, a shiny model of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and a 500-million-year-old specimen from the Byrd Glacier in Antarctica. 

The artifacts, rocks, models of space exploration vehicles, and climbing tools on display are courtesy of the college’s School of Earth and Space Exploration. Established in July 2006, the School of Earth and Space Exploration fuses Earth and space sciences with engineering to enhance our understanding of the universe, and especially, our home planet. 

Among the items on display, nestled in a small square, plastic case, is the moon rock, which was blown off the surface when an asteroid crashed into Earth’s moon. The meteorite was later found in the sand desert near Dar al Gani, Libya. 

Other geological samples on display include vanadinite from Globe, Ariz.; olivine in basalt from Gila County, Ariz.; a type of geode called “thunder egg” from Central Oregon; and azurite on malachite from Morenci, Ariz. 

In addition to the specimen from Byrd Glacier (caught in the act of melting) is a pair of crampons – Antarctic-like spurs that allow geologists to walk on steep ice without falling. According to the description, they are “one of the tools of the trade for polar research.” 

Globes of both Mars and Earth's moon sit close to models of a rover and a NASA shuttle. And, arranged throughout the display are images from Mars, the Himalaya and Antarctica. 

The items on display are from ASU’s Robert S. Dietz Geology Museum, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera Facility, the Mars Space Flight Facility, and faculty members in the School of Earth and Space Exploration. More information about ASU’s museums, galleries and collections is at

The Dean’s Office in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is located on the first floor of the Fulton Center, 300 E. University Drive, suite 145. It is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. More information is at 480-965-3391, option 2. More information about the School of Earth and Space Exploration is at