In September 1969, Washington University in St. Louis scientists were among the first to receive samples collected from the historic Apollo 11 moon mission. At this year’s Lunar and Planetary Science Convention, a student, a faculty member and an alum remind us of the value of these samples and share cutting edge research on decades-old rocks.
It’s been more than 40 years since astronauts returned the last Apollo samples from the moon, and since then those samples have undergone some of the most extensive and comprehensive analysis of any geological collection. A team of scientists has now refined the timeline of meteorite impacts on the moon through a pioneering application of laser microprobe technology to Apollo 17 samples.
Nearly 40 years after the Apollo astronauts first brought samples of the Moon to Earth for study, researchers from Washington University in St. Louis are leading an effort to return to the Moon for samples that could unlock secrets of the early Solar System. Known as MoonRise, the proposed Moon mission is one of three finalists now bidding to become NASA’s next big space science venture, a $650 million mission that would launch before 2019.
Photo by Randy KorotevLunar geochemist Randy Korotev, Ph.D., a research professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences in Arts & Sciences, said that there are still many answers to be gleaned from the moon rocks collected by the Apollo 11 astronauts on their historic moonwalk 40 years ago July 20. And he credits another WUSTL professor for the fact that the astronauts even collected the moon rocks in the first place.