Martha Chaffee presented a moon rock particle to Purdue President France A. Cordova on Saturday (Oct. 6) during half time of the Purdue-Ohio State football game.
Chaffee, widow of astronaut and Purdue alumnus Roger Chaffee, permanently loaned the lunar sample to Purdue through a NASA program that allows select former astronauts or their spouses to give samples to the educational institution of their choice. Roger Chaffee earned his bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering from Purdue in 1957. He was killed in 1967, along with Purdue alumnus Virgil "Gus" Grissom and fellow astronaut Ed White, in a launch pad fire while training for NASA's first Apollo mission. The moon particle was collected in 1972 during the Apollo 17 mission commanded by Eugene Cernan, a Purdue alumnus and the last astronaut to walk on the moon. It weighs about 2 grams, or roughly as much as two U.S. dollar bills.