We are creating a unified UKRI website that brings together the existing research council, Innovate UK and Research England websites.
If you would like to be involved in its development let us know.

Borrow the Moon FAQs

Please have a look at the questions and answers below to see if there is information to help with your queries.

  1. How many sets of Lunar Samples does STFC have?
    STFC has six sets of samples that we can loan out, plus one set on semi-permanent loan to Liverpool Museum and one set of thin sections that can be loaned by universities. For more information about the thin sections please contact the Loans Co-ordinator.
  2. Who do the samples belong to?
    The meteorites belong to STFC.
  3. What do the lunar samples look like?
    The moon rocks are presented in a Perspex disc which contains labelled lunar soil and rock samples of different types.  There are also some samples on microscope slides (also known as 'thin sections') that STFC loans out only to university students.
  4. Can I touch the moon rocks?
    Unfortunately no, the samples are permanently sealed in the Perspex disc to protect them and to ensure they can be viewed by many generations of school children.
  5. What do the meteorites look like?
    There are a variety of meteorites in each loan box:  every box includes larger meteorite samples that can be handled directly, as well as smaller ones that need to be kept in plastic cases.  To see in more detail what is in the loan box check out What’s in the Box and the Virtual Meteorite Gallery (coming soon).
  6. Will the loan cost me anything?
    The samples are loaned free of charge.
  7. Will I need to insure the samples from the loan box?
    No, The samples are priceless and uninsurable - this is why the Loans Co-ordinator must visit you to inspect your security before we can agree the loan.
  8. How do I book a loan box?
    You can download an application form and Security rules for borrowers from the STFC Website.  Before you complete the application form please read the Security rules for borrowers carefully and contact the Loans Co-ordinator to check the dates you want are available. As the scheme is very popular, and as security visits need to be arranged prior to first time borrowers receiving the box, please be aware that you may need to book up to 4 months in advance.
  9. How far in advance do I need to book the lunar samples?
    The samples can be reserved up to a year in advance - the minimum you should allow is four months.  However popular dates are often booked up months in advance, so please check with STFC before submitting your application form.
  10. What happens next?
    If the dates you require are available the Loans Co-ordinator will make a provisional booking; a visit to inspect your security arrangements will then be arranged. If the security arrangements meet the required standard the borrower will be required to complete the necessary contract document. You are welcome to ask questions about the loan at any time.

    If the dates you have requested are unavailable, the Loans Co-ordinator will contact you to discuss options.
  11. I would like to borrow the samples - but I don't think I have anywhere safe enough to store them securely.
    If you are unsure about your security, please contact the Lunar Samples Loan Co-ordinator, who will be pleased to advise you.
  12. I would like to borrow the samples, but I am not sure how to make the best use of them - any suggestions?
    Each loan comes with a wide range of support materials in the format of a teacher guide, along with a meteorite book and lunar map, that will help with lesson planning and give you ideas for activities. The teacher guide and useful education links can be seen in advance of the loan here.  The Loan Co-ordinator will tell you more about this when they visit.
  13. Where can I find out more information about moon rocks?
    You can visit the following official NASA Web pages:
      You can find out more about moon rocks from the National Space Centre’s object listing for its Apollo 17 Moon Rock.
  14. Where can I find out about meteorites?
    You can find out more about meteorites from NASA on their solar system exploration website with a simple description here and more in depth information here. The Natural History Museum has information online about their collection of meteorites, including some very similar to those in the loan box, as does the National Space Centre. You can also find out more about the loan scheme meteorites through the Virtual Meteorite Gallery (coming soon).
  15. The Borrowers' Notes refer to 'Thin Sections' - what are thin sections?
    Thin sections are very thin slices of rock that can be viewed with a petrographic microscope.  The thin sections loaned out by STFC are only to be used for university group, however each loan box contains a memory stick which contains digital images of the thin sections for everyone to use.
  16. I have heard that the moon landings were a hoax - is there any proof that the Americans went to the moon?
    There are many sites about the 'Hoax Theory' on the internet. The Bad Astronomy website has links to Hoax Supporter and Hoax Debunker sites.
  17. My organisation has completed our loan, how do I give feedback on our experience?
    We would love to hear from you, please fill out the online evaluation form.

Last updated: 22 May 2019


Science and Technology Facilities Council
Switchboard: +44 (0)1793 442000