LUNAR SAMPLES SEARCHED TO EXPLORE THE COSMOS

America Technology

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo landings on the moon. Scientists are examining moon rocks that astronauts collected then, around 50 years ago, to unravel more mysteries of the cosmos. Nearly a half-ton of moon rocks and more than 2,000 separate moon samples, including lunar soil, were collected by the six missions between 1969 and 1972. For planetary scientists, research on lunar samples is indispensable. Unlike the Earth, the moon hasn’t changed much since it formed. That makes it a ‘time capsule, a Book of Genesis for the geologically inclined’ says Brian Resnick.
Scientists believe that these samples could tell us more about the moon’s past of volcanic eruptions and they are examining them to comprehend how rocks are formed under different gravitational conditions. “And we’re looking at moon rocks because they have something very special in that they were formed in a lower gravity environment and that changes how the crystals and the melt behave with one another as they’re forming. So studies like this give us a baseline to understand processes that happen at terrestrial gravity on Earth” Says Researcher Dr. Matt Pankhurst. They use x-ray beams to study these samples in detail without damaging them.
Dr Ryan Zeigler says,”This one came from Apollo 15. Apollo 15 was the first mission where they had the rover so they were able to traverse a larger area. So they were able to visit a basaltic feature called a rille; basically an old collapsed lava tube. And so this is from a volcanic area, not unlike Hawaii.”
Already, lunar samples have told scientists a lot about how the moon formed in a collision between a giant body and the early Earth. But researchers also intend to study moon rocks to learn about the rest of the solar system. By dating rocks from lunar craters, they can tell when different-sized meteorites hit the moon, which can help them understand the history of other planets that were similarly formed.

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