Online Astronomy eText: Satellites (Moons)
Pictures of the Moon: Lunar Sample Disk 137 Link for sharing this page on Facebook
      In March of 2003 LBCC astronomy students had the opportunity to examine lunar sample Disk 137, which contains small portions of the materials brought back from the Moon by the Apollo astronauts. I took the pictures below to show what the disk and rock samples are like.

     Lunar Sample Disk 137, containing three rock samples, and three "soil" samples. (For information about how to obtain a Sample Disk, see the NASA Educational Disk Program webpage.

     Two closeup views of the anorthosite sample. This is a piece of material formed about 4.4 billion years ago, when the Moon had melted and differentiated. A deep magma ocean gradually cooled and solidified, forming a lighter, lower density crust which this sample represents, and a denser mantle below the crust.

     Closeup view of the basalt sample. This is a piece from lava flows which formed 3.2 to 3.9 billion years ago, when the mantle partially remelted and the melted rock forced its way to the surface, filling in some of the larger basins and forming the lunar maria. Unfortunately the sample is very dark, and it was hard to take a good picture of it through the lucite encasing it.

     Closeup view of the breccia sample. This is a mixture of lighter-colored broken pieces (breccia) encased in darker glassy material, formed when meteoritic impact broke up and partially melted already existing moon rocks. As in the case of the basalt sample the view is not as sharp as could be hoped for, because of the darkness of the sample and obscuration by the encasing lucite.

      I did not take closeup pictures of the "soils", or "fines", which are fragments too small to see clearly without a magnifying glass or microscope. They are mostly very small angular pieces broken off of highland or maria rocks (as indicated by "highland soil" and "maria soil"), or orange and black glassy spheres formed by an explosive volcanic eruption during the formation of the maria, 3.64 billion years ago (the "orange soil").