|The lunar samples
on display at the National Air and Space Museum are representative
of the basic types and ages of the rocks brought back from the Moon.
The samples on display at the Museum are fragments of larger rock
samples collected on the Moon by Apollo astronauts. All of the lunar
rocks have been divided into pieces so that they may be studied.
Apollo 15 sample 15016
Rock 15016 was collected at the Apollo
15 landing site near a long sinuous lunar valley called Hadley
Rille. This rock is called a basalt and its age is measured at
3.3 billion years old. The lunar samples have been dated by radioactive
age dating techniques and all the basalts are not the same age.
In fact, basalts found at the Apollo 11 and Apollo 17 sites are
hundreds of millions of years older than Rock 15016.
|A basalt is a dark-colored
fine-grained igneous rock rich in iron and magnesium. The "holes"
visible in this lunar basalt sample are called vesicles, formed
from tiny gas bubbles that were present when the molten rock cooled.
Basalts are common rocks on Earth, so the question arises-Are Moon
rocks very different from Earth rocks?
Photo credit: NASA
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