Forty-year-old Apollo 17 samples help date lunar impacts

NASA’s Apollo 17 mission to the Moon collected rock samples that scientists hope to unseal for study in the coming year. Credit: NASA. It will be the first time in decades that anyone has opened a pristine Apollo sample. Fresh studies of Apollo-era samples could help to shape the next generation of lunar geological discoveries, researchers said at the meeting. Scientists are applying modern techniques to analyse the kilograms of Moon rocks that astronauts retrieved between and , and using insights from historical and modern Apollo studies to decide the next set of sites to explore on the lunar surface. Other nations are also racing to the Moon; in January, a Chinese probe made a historic touchdown on the Moon’s far side , and last month an Israeli company launched the first private Moon lander.

The Age of the Moon

The Moon is the only planetary body other than the Earth for which samples have been collected in situ by humans and robotic missions and returned to Earth. Scientific investigations of the first lunar samples returned by the Apollo 11 astronauts 50 years ago transformed the way we think most planetary bodies form and evolve. Identification of anorthositic clasts in Apollo 11 samples led to the formulation of the magma ocean concept, and by extension the idea that the Moon experienced large-scale melting and differentiation.

This concept of magma oceans would soon be applied to other terrestrial planets and large asteroidal bodies.

Moon rocks collected during the Apollo missions hold the key to scientists from Germany narrowed the date of the moon’s formation down to.

Professor William Bill Compston is a renowned geophysicist who began his research career fingerprinting and dating rocks at the University of Western Australia before moving to the Research School of Earth Sciences at the Australian National University. Bill, you were born in in Western Australia, a state founded on its mineral wealth, and your mother came from the WA goldfields. But I believe your connection to geology and minerals goes back even further.

They both arrived in the same year, , and got off the ship at Portland. Oh, lots of them. My schooling was a happy time for me. But during the Second World War we had to go to Toodyay, which is about 50 or 60 miles — in the old measure — from Perth, to get away from the military preparations all round Fremantle.

STFC Lunar Rocks and Meteorites Loan Scheme: Secondary Resources

A team led by Arizona State University has now refined the timeline of meteorite impacts on the moon through a pioneering application of laser microprobe technology to Apollo 17 samples. Jolliff Washington University in St. Impact cratering is the most ubiquitous geologic process affecting the solid surfaces of planetary bodies in the solar system.

Berne, Switzerland Abstract—We have applied the r39—Ar4° technique of K—Ar dating to 15 lunar rocks. The mare basalts (feldspar); ;.

Sara Mazrouei does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. Most scientists believe the rate at which the moon and Earth have been bombarded by meteorites has remained constant for the past two to three billion years.

Understanding the age of craters on the moon can help us better understand the age of our own planet because the Earth would have received similar numbers of impacts. Since then however, using a new method to date craters on the moon, my colleagues and I have determined that the rarity of craters million years is due to a lower bombardment rate. In fact, the bombardment rate has increased by a factor of two to three in the past million years.

We suggest that the scarcity of terrestrial craters that are million years old is simply due to a lower bombardment rate during that period — and not due to preservation bias. There are tens of thousands of craters on the moon and the only way to see if the bombardment rate has changed is to have an age for every single crater. Traditionally, dating craters is done by recording the number and size of superimposed craters on the ejecta — the material displaced by impact — of each crater.

However, these methods are extremely time-consuming and limited by image quality and availability. This method works on the assumption that large lunar rocks have high thermal inertia and remain warm through the night, whereas the fine sand particles, called regolith , lose heat quickly.

Apollo 17 sample helps date Moon

Nell Greenfieldboyce. Darby Dyar says that as a kid, whenever Apollo astronauts returned from the moon, she and her classmates would get ushered into the school library to watch it on TV. She remembers seeing the space capsules bobbing in the ocean as the astronauts emerged. Nearly a half-ton of moon rocks were collected by the six Apollo missions to the lunar surface.

A new analysis of moon rocks pins down the end of the lunar from the Apollo missions have been from ancient rocks, dating to about 3 billion.

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Moons of our Solar System

We use cookies and other tracking technologies to improve your browsing experience on our site, show personalized content and targeted ads, analyze site traffic, and understand where our audiences come from. To learn more or opt-out, read our Cookie Policy. Lunar samples are a time capsule.

Dating[edit]. Rocks from the Moon have been measured by radiometric dating techniques. They range in age from about billion years.

But because of a twist of fate, it isn’t quite enough to solve a puzzle that has annoyed lunar and planetary scientists alike for more than two decades. That puzzle has to do with calculating how old different areas of planetary or lunar surfaces are. The older a patch of such an object is, the more it has been banged up by pieces of rock flying through space.

Scientists can’t make such connections in Earth’s active crust. But by bringing samples of the moon into terrestrial labs, where they could be precisely dated, the Apollo program let scientists build a conversion rate of sorts between just how many craters dot a certain surface and how old it is. There’s just one problem: There’s a stretch of nearly 2 billion years of lunar history that scientists can’t pin down, because there aren’t any young rocks in the Apollo samples.

So, Draper and his colleagues are hoping NASA will sign on to a mission the researchers will propose in July that would find a missing puzzle piece and make the crater-counting tool more robust.

Lunar Rocks

Like Earth and the rest of the solar system , the moon has been around for roughly 4. But try to narrow down the planets age any more than that, and scientists have a hard time agreeing. Is our moon an ” old moon ” that formed 30 million years after the solar system took shape, or a ” young moon ” that formed million years later? In a new study published July 29 in the journal Nature Geoscience , scientists describe fresh evidence that our moon is apparently on the older side.

The40Ar 39Ar dating technique has been applied to three fragments of lunar rock , with widely differing K concentrations. The samples analyzed show no.

The men — the last of the dozen NASA astronauts to walk on the moon — carefully sealed the so-called drive tube and brought it back to Johnson Space Center in Houston, where it has remained untouched for almost half a century. Now, NASA says the time has finally come to crack the tube open. The space agency has selected nine teams to study the year-old sample , as well as some moon rocks that were only briefly examined before being placed into long-term storage.

Most of the rocks and regolith collected during the Apollo program , which ended with Apollo 17, have already been examined. But NASA held these back so they could be analyzed by a new generation of scientists using tools and techniques that were unavailable in the s. But at some point, you get to those future generations. Another reason NASA has ordered up the new analysis of the old moon rocks is that the agency is gearing up for its Artemis program, which aims to send astronauts to the moon in Artemis astronauts — including the first female moon walker — will bring back more samples, and NASA wants to make sure scientists have the know-how to analyze a new batch of moon rocks.

Scientists hope their analyses will bring new discoveries about the moon , including the geologic history of the sites where the samples were collected, how rocks “weather” on the airless lunar surface, and how different storage techniques on Earth affect the samples over time. Perhaps the most intriguing science question to be answered is how much water the samples contain.

When scientists first examined Apollo moon rocks in the s, they didn’t find any water.

Professor Bill Compston, isotope geochemist

Skip to content Skip to navigation. The scientific rationale for lunar exploration is to establish the Moon’s composition, internal structure, and history or evolution. Before man walked on the Moon, scientists thought that the Moon was a relatively primitive simple object that would record the earliest history of the Solar System. More than 50 U. A total of 24 U. During 80 hours of surface activities, the astronauts carefully collected kg of lunar samples see sample inventory on table 1.

Dating of basaltic fragments returned from the Moon also showed that a A total of ∼ kg of rock and soil samples were brought back to the.

The Apollo lunar landings yielded an abundance of new scientific data on the Moon. The various experiments placed on the surface provided information on seismic, gravitational, and other lunar characteristics. But perhaps the most dramatic result of the missions was returning a total of more than pounds of lunar rock and soil for analysis on Earth. These samples of the Moon offered a deeper appreciation of the evolution of our nearest planetary neighbor.

Lunar surface basalts are believed to have their origins in partially melted areas kilometers miles beneath the large meteoroid impact basins. The basaltic material welled up into the basins through cracks created by the impacts.

After a gap of 150 years this Super Blue Blood Moon is worth a watch