In my hands is lunar sample #227 from NASA’s Lunar Petrographic Thin Section Set. Embedded in this transparent disc are 6 samples of rock and soil from the surface of our nearest natural satellite in space, the Moon, collected by the astronauts of the Apollo missions. Apollo 11 carried the first geologic samples from the Moon back to Earth in 1969. Apollo 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17 and the Soviet Union’s Luna missions 16, 20 and 24 were also to bring back rock and soil samples from the Moon for study.
As you can see, I was chuffed to bits to be holding these during their recent visit to Glasgow Science Centre for World Space Week 2014. I even got to climb into a space jumpsuit which added to the excitement!
The 6 rock and soil samples contained in the disc are:
- Anorthosite – This type of rock forms the much of the Highlands of the Moon
- Basalt – Basalts are formed from flows of molten lava on the lunar maria.
- Breccia – Breccias are rocks composed of fragments of older rocks.
- Mare Soil
- Highland Soil
- Orange Soil – is composed mostly of orange volcanic glass beads thought to have formed following volcanic fire fountains.
All very cool!!!
You can find out a bit more about these lunar samples at the Lunar and Planetary Institute