Armed guards escort out of this world artifact to bank vault in Salt Lake City

Posted at 6:07 PM, May 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-27 20:08:15-04

SALT LAKE CITY – A rare moon rock housed at Clark Planetarium has been moved to a bank vault in downtown Salt Lake City, and the transfer of the Apollo 15 mission memento involved some tight security at the request of NASA.

The moon rock sits encased in glass at Clark Planetarium. It’s the size of a large strawberry, and NASA gave the planetarium the rare gift in 1975 as part of what’s called a permanent loan.

“There were about 830 pounds of lunar soil, lunar rocks that were collected during the Apollo missions from 1969-1972,” said Seth Jarvis, director of Clark Planetarium. “It looks as gorgeous today as it ever did.”

“I remember coming to the Hansen Planetarium at the time and seeing this moon rock, really being excited and inspired by it,” said Ben McAdams, Salt Lake County Mayor.

On Friday, Mayor McAdams witnessed the transfer of the moon rock to a temporary location. Clark Planetarium is remodeling its science exhibits. Before they start tearing things down, they’ll need to place the moon rock in a vault at Zions Bank in downtown Salt Lake City.

“NASA requirements are that when you take your moon rock out of its protective case, which is on a separate burglar alarm and all of those things, it has to travel under armed escort and be secured in either a bank vault or something equivalent," Jarvis said.

Officials wrapped up the moon rock, placed it in a protective case, and, with armed guards in tow, Mayor McAdams loaded the precious object into the car and delivered it to Zions Bank.

“We're just proud and pleased to be involved with Clark Planetarium and to be able to provide this service and safeguard this really important treasure of the community,” said John Stillings, Executive Vice-President for Commercial Banking at Zions Bank.

The moon rock will be stored at Zions Bank until this fall. You can check it out once it is returned to its spot at Clark Planetarium, along with the other newly remodeled exhibits.