Page 27 - WCM 2022 Winter
P. 27

  A Home Away From Home
Taoudenni 002, named for its region of discovery, now resides with its peers in the MMGM’s Space Rocks Gallery, becoming part of a cohort of exceptional otherworldly specimens. Designed to be a journey through space and time, the exhibit takes you into another world. Earth-dwellers find themselves wandering among the finest discoveries from our solar system, including the five largest meteorites from
the Moon, a primeval space rock that is the oldest igneous rock known to exist (Erg Chech 002), and the fascinating Murchison meteorite, which contains 7-billion-year-old pre-solar grains - older than our sun.
The arrival of Taoudenni 002 to the MMGM makes sense, especially given the context of the institution it now calls home. At first glance, the MMGM explores the hyper-local mineralogic and geologic history of Maine. But then the perspective widens: Visitors travel through the lifecycle of rocks, how minerals are formed, the journey from mineral rough to polished gemstone, the human stories intertwined throughout, the dynamic layers of our planet from lithosphere to atmosphere ... and beyond. After all, it’s all geology. When exploring the origins of planet Earth, the MMGM makes the case that meteorites tell the epic story of our solar system, and all the planets within it.
One Journey Ends, and Another Begins
“You look at pictures of Mars, and you see something familiar,” says Dr. Yingst, gesturing to the mysterious Mars rock quietly sitting on a black pedestal. “You see
volcanoes, canyons, dry riverbeds, deserts ... but the volcanoes are three times the size of Mt. Everest, and the canyons go from New York City to Los Angeles. It’s a world of extremes, while still looking so familiar to us.”
No other planet has captured our imagination like Mars. We look to Mars to learn about ourselves. It reveals to us that at one time, the two planets were recognizably similar before they diverged. It beckons us to ask questions about our very existence, and whether life can be found on other planets, or even in the cosmos. It inspires us to explore. “This sort of visual, tangible connection really makes a difference to young people who are looking for that connection to what they want to be, and how far they can go. Having this sort of connection is crucial,” states
Dr. Yingst, who herself, as a young child, had the opportunity to touch a meteorite, inspiring her to pursue a career in space exploration. “Someday there will be a Mainer who saw this rock, and who will go to Mars and touch Mars for real because they were here, and saw this rock at the Museum.”
The Maine Mineral & Gem Museum hopes to ignite that tangible excitement and passion in those who come to visit, helping them understand that science is real, you can get there from here, and that the journey of a single rock can inspire generations of explorers.
The Museum is located at 99 Main Street in Bethel. Hours of operation are Monday, Wednesday– Saturday, 10am–5pm, Sunday, 11am–5pm,
closed Tuesday. ✲ 27

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