PUPILS at a Durham City school got the chance to handle moon rock and meteorites.

Durham High School for Girls worked with an educational pack that included a 1.2 billion year old piece of Mars and a 4.3 billion year old nickel meteorite as part of a hands-on science lesson.

The lunar samples, provided by the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) were collected in the late 1960s and early 1970s during some of NASA’s first manned space missions to the Moon.

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A massive 382kg of lunar material was brought back to Earth - mostly for use by scientists, but small quantities are used to develop lunar and planetary sciences educational packages.

A school spokesman said: “Samples like these can tell us a great deal about where they originate, but we still have so much to learn.

"STFC is dedicated to providing science outreach programmes to inspire young people and complement classroom studies.”

STFC’s chief executive officer, Professor John Womersley said, “This is a great opportunity for young people to be able to see, touch and really experience such important and exciting messengers from space –turning science fiction into science fact.

"It’s an unforgettable experience to be able to hold such an important part of science history that has made such an incredible journey over millions of miles to reach us – and one we hope will inspire the scientists of the future.”