MTSU Star Party features Apollo mission lunar samp...

MTSU Star Party features Apollo mission lunar samples (+VIDEO)

MTSU assistant professor Irina Perevalova acknowledges that her guests at the April 19 MTSU Star Party are not only some of the coolest she’s ever brought to one of the event, they’re also some of the most rare.

Sgt. Broede Stucky, left, MTSU Public Safety public information officer, holds lunar samples from four Apollo missions while Dr. Irina Perevalova explains how they are on loan from NASA through May 3. (MTSU photos by News and Media Relations)

Lunar samples from Apollo missions 14 through 17 were on special display April 19 in Wiser-Patten Science Hall, said Perevalova, who helped land the lunar and meteorite samples at the university.

The public was invited to view the display, which was part of both Alumni Weekend and MTSU Star Party activities.

The lunar and meteorite samples, which arrived April 17 and were on loan from NASA, were to be housed at MTSU through May 3. The university’s Department of Public Safety has maintained the rarities in a secure area.

“What’s important to us is that they are from the moon,” said Perevalova, who teaches in MTSU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.

“They belong to the people of the United States. The moon samples are absolutely unique. They’re a national treasure.”

At the unique Star Party, Perevalova was to present a special lecture, “Hello, Universe, nice to meet you!”  in Room 102 of Wiser-Patten Science Hall.

Dr. Irina Perevalova provides a close-up view of the lunar samples visiting the MTSU campus. Lunar Sample #039 includes basalt; orange, highlands and mare soil; anorithosite and breccia.

Perevalova’s lecture was to be followed by telescope observing outside, if weather permits.

Free parking is located behind Wiser-Patten, and a printable campus map is available at

MTSU faculty conduct star parties each semester for the campus and surrounding community. The free public events showcase astronomy-related events along with the MTSU Observatory complex, which includes a traditional dome-shaped structure and a “Uranidrome,” or  naked-eye observatory, on Old Main Circle between Wiser-Patten and the Cope Administration Building.

Perevalova, a native of Russia, said she believes this may be one of the first times lunar samples have come to Tennessee and encouraged parents to bring their school-age children to view the historic samples.

Perevalova said only two nations, Russia and the United States, have lunar samples. Russia’s came from a machine, she explained, while U.S. astronauts collected samples during lunar missions between 1969 and 1972.

The professor said she had to attend training at Georgia Southern University and be certified by NASA before the agency would allow MTSU to host the exhibit.

One local school has already called to see the exhibit, Perevalova said, adding that she hopes to visit other schools with the lunar samples before they are returned to NASA.

She can be reached at 615-898-2522 or by email at

You can watch a brief video about the lunar samples’ visit to MTSU below.

— Randy Weiler (