Moon Rock Mineralogy: Yes, the Apollo missions were real, QEDirt

Guest geological story-telling by David Middleton

One of the coolest things about WUWT is the enthusiasm that Anthony and many other regulars here have for the space program. As a life-long space junkie, I know that my enthusiasm for the space program pushed me toward the sciences in school. My career as a geologist/geophysicist in the oil & gas industry has even afforded me a few personal connections to the space program.

The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing inspired quite a few great posts about this tremendous accomplishment. However, in almost every post about the Apollo program, comments about the missions being faked have cropped up. From my experience, nothing will convince these folks that the Apollo missions really happened. However, there is one irrefutable category of evidence that American astronauts landed on the Moon and returned to Earth six times from July 1969 to December 1972: The rock and regolith (soil) samples.

A little background

I have a few personal connections to NASA and the Apollo program. If these are of no interest, skip on to the section titled: “You first have to learn the language of this little rock here.”

My Dad’s cousin, Rear Admiral Roderick O. Middleton commanded the task force that recovered Astronaut John Glenn and the Friendship 7 spacecraft. He then went on to manage the Apollo program from 1967-1969. He left the Apollo program a couple of months after the Apollo 11 landing “to assume command of Cruiser-Destroyer Flotilla 12.”


Aug 1967 R.O. Middleton becomes Manager  of Apollo Program

11 Oct 68 Apollo 7 Earth Orbiter
 (Schirra, Eisele, Cunningham) First US 3-man space mission, commanded by CAPT Walter M. Schirra, Jr., USN.  MAJ Ronnie Walter Cunningham (USMCR), served as Lunar Module Pilot. The mission lasted 10 days and 20 hours. Recovery was by HS-5 helicopters from USS Essex (CVS-9).


21 Dec 68 Apollo 8 Lunar Orbiter
 (Borman, Lovell, Anders) CAPT James A. Lovell, Jr., USN, was Command Module Pilot. During the mission, Lovell was one of the first 2 humans to see the far side of the moon. The mission lasted 6 days and 3 hours and included 10 moon orbits. Recovery was by HS-4 helicopters from USS Yorktown (CVS-10).


03 Mar 69 Apollo 9 Earth Orbiter
 (McDivitt, Scott, Schweikart)


18 May 69 Apollo 10 Lunar Orbiter
 (Stafford, Young, Cernan) dress rehearsal for first lunar landing mission.CDR John W. Young, USN, was the Command Module Pilot and CDR Eugene A. Cernan, USN, was the Lunar Module Pilot. During the 8 day mission, the craft made 31 lunar orbits in 61.6 hours. Recovery was by HS-4 helicopter from USS Princeton (LPH-5).


16 Jul 69 Apollo 11 First Lunar Landing
  (Armstrong, Aldrin, Collins)  On 20 July former naval aviator and Apollo 11 Neil A. Armstrong, USN became the first person to set foot on the moon saying: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Armstrong was Commander of Apollo 11 which during its 8 day mission landed on the moon’s Sea of Tranquility. Recovery was by HS-4 helicopters from USS Hornet (CVS-12). (To see a YouTube video, click HERE.


Oct 1969 R.O. Middleton leaves NASA

USS Little Rock Association

From 1981-1997 I was employed as a geophysicist with Enserch Exploration in Dallas, Texas. One of the geologists I worked with was James Reilly. Jim left Enserch in 1995 because he had a job offer he simply couldn’t turn down:

In graduate school, Reilly was selected to participate in the 1977–1978 scientific expedition to Marie Byrd LandWest Antarctica, as a research scientist specializing in stable isotope geochronology. In 1979, he started work as an exploration geologist with Santa Fe Minerals Inc., in Dallas, Texas. From 1980 to the time he was selected for the astronaut program, Reilly was employed as an oil and gas exploration geologist for Enserch Exploration Inc., in Dallas, Texas, rising to the position of Chief Geologist of the Offshore Region. At the same time, he was involved in applying new imaging technology for industrial applications in deep water engineering projects and biological research. Reilly spent approximately 22 days in deep submergence vehicles operated by Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution and the U.S. Navy.[3] NASA selected Reilly for the astronaut program in December 1994. He reported to the Johnson Space Center in March 1995 and completed a year of training and evaluation, and qualified for flight assignment as a mission specialist. Initially, he was assigned to work technical issues for the Astronaut Office Computer Support Branch. Reilly flew on STS-89 in 1998 and STS-104 in 2001. He has logged over 517 hours in space, including three spacewalks totaling 16 hours and 30 minutes. He has worked both on the ISS and Mir space stations. Reilly was next assigned as the Astronaut Office lead on Shuttle training. In 2007 was a member of the crew of STS-117. Concurrent with his crew assignment he is designated as Payloads and Procedures Operations lead for the Astronaut Office ISS Branch.[4]

From January 2010 to May 2014 Reilly worked as the American Public University System‘s Dean of the School of Science and Technology.

In January 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump nominated Reilly to be the director of the U.S. Geological Survey.[5] This nomination was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in April 2018.[6]

Wikipedia

The last time I had a chance to visit with Jim was at the 2011 American Association of Petroleum Geologists convention in Houston, Texas, where I had the great fortune of meeting Dr. Harrison “Jack” Schmitt.

Harrison Hagan “Jack” Schmitt (born July 3, 1935) is an American geologist, retired NASA astronautuniversity professor, former U.S. senator from New Mexico, and, as a crew member of Apollo 17, the most recent living person to have walked on the Moon.

In December 1972, as one of the crew on board Apollo 17, Schmitt became the first member of NASA’s first scientist-astronaut group to fly in space. As Apollo 17 was the last of the Apollo missions, he also became the twelfth and second-youngest person to set foot on the Moon, and the second-to-last person to step off of the Moon (he boarded the Lunar Module shortly before commander Eugene Cernan). Schmitt also remains the only professional scientist to have flown beyond low Earth orbit and to have visited the Moon.[3] He was influential within the community of geologists supporting the Apollo program and, before starting his own preparations for an Apollo mission, had been one of the scientists training those Apollo astronauts chosen to visit the lunar surface.

Wikipedia

My wife (also a geoscientist and space junkie) and I got to visit with Dr. Schmitt for a few minutes and he signed our copy of Return to the Moon. The book is basically a business plan for mining 3He on the Moon.  How do we know there’s 3He on the Moon?  It was measured in the regolith samples collected by the Apollo astronauts with sufficient accuracy to estimate resource potential. While 3He is fairly abundant on the Moon, there’s very little of it on Earth.

One of the geologists I currently work with grew up in the vicinity of the Manned Spacecraft Center (now Johnson Space Center) and his father was one of the technicians who crafted the flag poles and other unique items for NASA. He has a flag and flag pole that would have flown on Apollo 18, 19 or 20. He brought it into the office and set it up in our break room last year on the 49th anniversary of Apollo 11… very cool. Having grown up with the space program and currently being a neighbor of Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise, he has some great stories.

On to the geological story-telling…

“You first have to learn the language of this little rock here.”

You see the story yet? It’s all pretty much here.
In a language you can’t yet understand, but it’s here.
A tale of upheaval and battles won and lost.
Gothic tales of sweeping change, peaceful times, and then great trauma again.
And it all connects to our little friend.
That’s what we are, we geologists.
Storytellers.
Interpreters, actually.
That’s what you gentlemen are going to become.
And how does this relate to the moon? From 240,000 miles away you have to give the most complete possible description of what you’re seeing.
Not just which rocks you plan to bring back but their context.
That and knowing which ones to pick up in the first place is what might separate you guys from those little robots.
You know, the ones some jaded souls think should have your job.

You see, you have to become our eyes and ears out there.
And for you to do that, you first have to learn the language of this little rock here.

–David Clennon as Dr. Leon (Lee) Silver, From the Earth to the Moon, Episode 10, Galileo Was Right, 1998

Dr. Silver trained the Apollo 15 crew to be field geologists. The Apollo 15 landing site, the Hadley-Apennine region, was selected because it was a good place to look for anorthosite, thought to be the primary component of the Moon’s primordial crust.

Genesis Rock

Published: September 22, 2017
On August 1, 1971, Apollo 15 mission commander David R. Scott relayed exciting news to Mission Control and the scientists in the back room.

“Guess what we just found,” Scott said. “Guess what we just found! I think we found what we came for.”

That sample, nicknamed the Genesis Rock, sample number 15415, was an anorthosite, a piece of the moon’s primordial crust. Geologists, hoping to learn more about the moon and its origins, selected the Hadley-Apennines landing site for precisely this reason. While not the oldest lunar sample brought back from the moon, geologists at the Manned Spacecraft Center (now known as the Johnson Space Center) later concluded that this rock was about 4 billion years old.

Apollo 15 was the first of three J missions, often called the true scientific missions to the moon.

These missions featured the Lunar Rover equipped with a television camera, a redesigned Lunar Module (LM) that allowed the crews to stay for extended periods on the moon and long duration backpacks for the moonwalkers allowing astronauts to spend more time exploring the lunar surface. Engineers also made changes to the Service Module, filling it with remote sensing instruments designed to document the moon’s surface. During the crew’s three spacewalks, Scott and James B. Irwin spent almost nineteen hours exploring the moon and covered 17.5 miles of lunar terrain in the lunar rover.

To prepare for this historic flight, the crew trained for months. An important part of that training included geology field trips with geologists from universities and the center as well as the U.S. Geological Survey. Apollo 15, 16 and 17 crews dedicated much more time to these exercises than their colleagues on the earlier Apollo lunar landings.

Apollo 15 astronauts traveled to a different geological site each month, which amounted to about 18 trips, compared to five or six for the previous flight of Apollo 14. Scott and Irwin practiced in terrain similar to the conditions they would find on the moon and within the limitations they would face on the surface. Gary E. Lofgren helped train the Apollo 15 crew and now serves as the lunar curator.

[…]

In preparation for their landing in the Hadley-Apennine region, the instructors along with Scott and Irwin, visited volcanic sites like Hawaii and areas “where they would see the kinds of rocks we expected to find as part of that primitive crust,” Lofgren noted.

These sites included the San Gabriel Mountains, Ely, Minnesota, the Rio Grande Gorge and the San Juan Mountains. Their training paid off in spades. Leon T. Silver, an Apollo 15 instructor from Cal Tech, called the mission the “apotheosis of all the things we’d been planning to do… it was the coming together of developing the technical capabilities, preparing men to be explorers as well as many, many other things.”

He and others were confident that they would find a piece of the ancient crust. Why did these scientists place such faith in two former test pilots?

“Well,” he explained, “that’s because the human intention, well educated, well prepared, can squeeze things out, you understand?”

[…]

NASA
Figure 1. Apollo 15 Mission Commander David Scott and the Genesis Rock. Image Credit: NASA
Figure 2. “Photo of Genesis rock before processing. Cube is 1 inch.” NASA

Anorthosite is much more common on the Moon than on Earth and there are significant differences between lunar and terrestrial anorthosite.

Lunar anorthosite
Anorthosite is a fascinating rock and sparks interest even among those who usually don’t care about rocks. The reason is simple. Anorthosite is often composed of mineral labradorite which is famous for an iridescent effect called labradorescence. You’ll find more in this article: anorthosite and labradorescence.

The Moon highlands seem to be composed of anorthosite. We have both indirect and direct evidence for that. Measurements made recently by the Japanese lunar orbiter SELENE suggest that the lunar anorthosite may in many cases be almost totally monomineralic — composed entirely of plagioclase with very high calcium content. We have direct evidence also — American astronauts who visited Moon in the early 1970s brought back 61 rock samples that were found to be anorthosites.

It is wonderful to think that large portion of the Moons surface (highlands surrounding the basaltlowlands or marias) is schillering like anorthosites here on Earth often do. However, it is likely not the case. There are several differences between terrestrial and lunar anorthosites. Terrestrial anorthosites contain more sodium (sodium and calcium can replace each other in all proportions in the crystal structure of plagioclase). Plagioclase must have the composition of labradorite — one of plagioclase minerals. It means that 50-70% of the sites in the crystal structure which are occupied either by calcium or sodium ions are occupied by calcium. In the lunar anorthosites Ca-content is close to 100%. In order to have a labradorescence, the percent of calcium needs to be in the range of 48-58%. The effect of labradorescence is the result of a breakup of plagioclase crystals into many alternating lamellae of different (calcium and sodium rich) composition. If there is very little sodium present, such exsolution simply can not take place.

There are more differences between terrestrial and lunar anorthosites. Lunar anorthosites are light-colored, while some terrestrial anorthosites are dark. Here on Earth the cooling of anorthositic magma bodies took very long time. The crystals which show labradorescence are often very large, even pegmatitic (more than an inch in length). Lunar anorthosites, however, are quite fine-grained. Only very few crystals are larger than 1 cm.

Lunar anorthosite is very old. It is believed that it formed when the lunar magma ocean solidified which probably took place in the first 100 million years of the existence of the Moon. Lunar anorthosite is believed to be the result of a gravitational differentiation. Plagioclase is lighter than most other minerals found there and therefore rose to the uppermost part of the magma ocean. However, the details of this process are still hotly debated.

Sandatlas

While the volcanic rocks found on the Moon are similar to those on Earth, there are major mineralogical differences.

Lunar Mineralogy
Only four minerals – plagioclase feldspar, pyroxene, olivine, and ilmenite – account for 98-99% of the crystalline material of the lunar crust. [Material at the lunar surface contains a high proportion of non-crystalline material, but most of this material is glass that formed from melting of rocks containing the four major minerals.] The remaining 1-2% is largely potassium feldspar, oxide minerals such as chromite, pleonaste, and rutile, calcium phosphates, zircon, troilite, and iron metal. Many other minerals have been identified, but most are rare and occur only as very small grains interstitial to the four major minerals.

Some of the most common minerals at the surface of the Earth are rare or have never been found in lunar samples. These include quartz, calcite, magnetite, hematite, micas, amphiboles, and most sulfide minerals. Many terrestrial minerals contain water as part of their crystal structure. Micas and amphiboles are common examples. Hydrous (water containing) minerals have not been found on the Moon. The simplicity of lunar mineralogy often makes it very easy for me to say with great confidence “This is not a moon rock. “ A rock that contains quartz, calcite, or mica as a primary mineral is not from the Moon. Some lunar meteorites do, in fact, contain calcite. However, the calcite was formed on Earth from exposure of the meteorite to air and water after it landed. The calcite occurs as a secondary mineral, one that fills cracks and voids (see Dhofar 025). Secondary minerals are easy to recognize when the meteorite is studied with a microscope.

Randy L. Korotev, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences Washington University in St. Louis

This leads to significant differences in the rocks.

Figure 3. Cross plot of FeO + MgO vs. Al2O3 (Korotev)

Because of the simplicity of lunar mineralogy, lunar rocks have predictable chemical compositions. Nearly all the aluminum is in plagioclase and nearly all the iron and magnesium are in pyroxene, olivine, and ilmenite. Thus, on a plot of concentrations of iron (FeO) plus magnesium (MgO) versus the concentration of aluminum (Al2O3 in figure), all lunar meteorites (and nearly all Apollo lunar rocks) plot along a line connecting the composition of plagioclase and the average composition of the three iron-bearing minerals because these are the only four major minerals in the rock.

If the composition of a rock does not plot along this line, the rock is almost certainly not a lunar rock. Meteorites such as ordinary chondrites do not plot on the line because some of the iron is in iron-nickel metal as well as pyroxene and olivine. [To represent meteorites, the average composition of H-group ordinary chondrites is shown on the figure because H chondrites are the most common type of meteorite.] Earth rocks contain many more different kinds of minerals that Moon rocks. Most Earth rocks plot below the lunar line because they contain quartz or calcite, which have essentially zero concentrations of FeO, MgO, and Al2O3. Some Earth rocks do plot on the lunar line, but they are all rocks composed of plagioclase and pyroxene or olivine. [To represent Earth rocks, the average composition of the terrestrial continental crust and the range of tektites is shown on the figure.]

On Earth, the silica (SiO2) concentration of igneous rocks is used as a first-order chemical classification parameter because it varies widely among different kinds of rocks. On the Moon (1) there are no rocks rich in quartz or other silica polymorphs*, (2) in a given rock, particularly breccias, the average concentration of silica in the three main minerals, plagioclase, pyroxene, and olivine, are all about the same, and (3) in highlands rocks ilmenite is usually present only in small amounts (<3%), so silica concentrations of common lunar rocks vary by only a small amount. In lunar meteorites, SiO2 concentrations span the narrow range from 43% to 47%. Because aluminum varies by more than a factor of 3, however, aluminum is more useful as a chemical classification parameter. (Titanium is used in mare basalts.) Similarly, among nearly all common lunar rocks calcium concentrations vary by a factor of 2, from 10% to 20% as calcium oxide (CaO). This is much less than the range in terrestrial rocks. A rock with silica or calcium oxide concentrations substantially outside these ranges is almost certainly not a lunar rock.

Randy L. Korotev, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences Washington University in St. Louis

How can we be certain that these rocks were brought back by astronauts and not robotic vehicles? A robot would not know how to look for the right rocks or explain their context. The astronauts were trained to collect a “suite” of rock samples.

The Suite

Now, we can, if we’re very clever, we can figure out a lot about an area like this by putting together what we call “the suite”. What the hell is he talking about? The suite. I’m talking about a dozen hand-sized rocks that tell the story of this place in all of its diversity from the typical, right to the exotic. You got ten minutes.

–David Clennon as Dr. Leon (Lee) Silver, From the Earth to the Moon, Episode 10, Galileo Was Right, 1998

No robot could have collected a suite of rocks and conveyed the context of those rocks the way the astronauts did, particularly during the J missions.

145:41:48 Scott: Okay, there’s a big boulder over there down-Sun of us, that I’m sure you can see, Joe, which is gray. And it has some very outstanding gray clasts and white clasts, and oh, boy, it’s a beaut! We’re going to get ahold of that one in a minute.
145:42:07 Irwin: Okay, I have my pictures, Dave.

[The sample with the “white corner on the thing” is one of the best known of all Apollo samples, 15415, a 269 gram piece of pure anorthosite (185k). See, also, a red-blue anaglyph (0.5 Mb) of the ‘N’ face made from S71-44990 and 44991 by Erwin D’Hoore. Reporters covering the mission almost immediately named it the Genesis Rock. Interestingly, it was sitting up off the surface on a pedestal of soil. Readers should note that, during the drive back to the LM on EVA-1 at 123:56:52, Dave noticed another rock on a pedestal.][Jim’s down-Sun “before” pictures are AS15-90- 12227 and 12228. In 12227, Dave is standing quite close to the gnomon. Although the pedestal is a little washed out in this picture, the Genesis Rock, the white object, is quite obvious. Jim moved several steps to his right to take 228, which shows Dave holding the tongs in his left hand. The Station 7 boulder is in the background.][Dave’s cross-Sun “befores” are AS15-86- 11670 and 11671. David Harland has assembled a mosaic of Genesis Rock “befores” and “afters”.]
RealVideo Clip (40 sec) by Ken Glover from the NASA film Apollo 15: In the Mountains of the Moon145:42:10 Scott: Okay, let’s see. What do you think the best way to sample it (meaning the Genesis Rock) would be?
145:42:14 Irwin: I think probably…Could we break off a piece of the clod underneath it? Or I guess you could probably lift that top fragment right off.

[Fendell has stopped to look at the rille and, now, zooms in on the near surface.]
145:42:23 Scott: Yeah. Let me try. (Pause) Yeah. Sure can. And it’s a…a white clast, and it’s about…
[Dave may have been about to call the rock a white clast breccia when he cleaned some of the dirt cover off and saw the predominant plagioclase. Jim sees the characteristic reflections almost before Dave does.]
145:42:41 Irwin: Oh, man!145:42:41 Scott: Oh, boy!
145:42:42 Irwin: I got…
145:42:42 Scott: Look at that.
145:42:44 Irwin: Look at the glint!
145:42:45 Scott: Aaah.
145:42:46 Irwin: Almost see twinning in there!
145:42:47 Scott: Guess what we just found. (Jim laughs with pleasure) Guess what we just found! I think we found what we came for.
145:42:53 Irwin: Crystalline rock, huh?
145:42:55 Scott: Yes, sir. You better believe it.
145:42:57 Allen: Yes, sir.
145:42:58 Scott: Look at the plage in there.
145:42:59 Irwin: Yeah.
145:43:00 Scott: Almost all plage.
145:43:01 Irwin: (Garbled)
145:43:02 Scott: As a matter of fact (Laughing) Oh, boy! I think we might have ourselves something close to anorthosite, ’cause it’s crystalline, and there’s just a bunch…It’s just almost all plage. What a beaut.
[NASA photo S71-43477 shows Dave examining the Genesis Rock in the Lunar Receiving Lab after the flight.]
145:43:18 Irwin: That is really a beauty. And, there’s another one down there!145:43:22 Scott: Yeah. We’ll get some of these.

[Fendell is now looking at Dave and Jim. Jim has his back to the camera and Dave is standing at his right, facing south, as they examine the ground around their find. They are working inside the rim of Spur on a noticeable slope.]
145:43:24 Allen: Bag it up!145:43:27 Scott: Ah! Ah!
145:43:29 Irwin: Beautiful.
145:43:30 Scott: Hey, let me get some of that clod there. No, let’s don’t mix them. Let’s make this a special…Why (don’t)…I’ll zip it up.
145:43:36 Irwin: Okay.

[Jim turns to his right to present his SCB.]
145:43:37 Scott: Make this bag, 196, a special bag.

NASA

It wouldn’t have even been possible to land where the Genesis Rock was collected.

Figure 4. Hadley Rille. NASA

This image from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter shows the area surrounding Apollo 15’s landing site, annotated with the traverse plots of the mission’s first two moonwalks, abbreviated as EVAs (extra-vehicular activities). Numbers indicate elevations in meters above the landing site (indicated by the arrow labeled “LM” — lunar module). Astronauts David Scott and James Irwin ventured to the lower slopes of Mons Hadley Delta (center left). The distance they travelled from the lunar module to Elbow crater along the edge of Hadley Rille (EVA 1) is about 2.8 miles. Apollo 15 was the first mission on which the “lunar rover” was used.

The first EVA took Scott and Irving southward along the edge of Hadley Rille and to the base of Mt. Hadley Delta near St. George crater. This traverse took them to a height of just over 65 meters (or 213 feet) above the landing site on the mare plain. At this height, much of the surface material of the mountain comprises debris that, over eons, slid down the upper slopes. The area contains very few surface boulders, so materials collected in this area primarily consist of regolith: dusty, rocky debris.
The second EVA took the astronauts southeast to “South Cluster” and Spur craters. At Spur crater, a very old crystalline rock fragment was collected, containing evidence of geologic processes more than 4 billion years old and representing a piece of the original anorthositic crust of the moon. They also discovered an unusual green material composed of volcanic glass.

This traverse ascended about 95 meters (104 yards) in elevation up the base of Hadley Delta. At times, the slope was so steep that the rover had difficulty getting traction, and the mountain peak loomed so high overhead, that the astronauts could not lean back far enough to get it in the frame of their cameras.

During this traverse, the astronauts commented that they thought they could detect a high-mark where lava might once have filled the basin at the base of nearby Mt. Hadley around a height of 85 meters (93 yards) above the current mare plain.

NASA

The Moon rocks were packed up on the Moon, loaded into the lunar module, transferred to the command module and brought back to Earth. They were unloaded from the command module after splash down and cataloged.  Some were studied immediately.  Others were set aside for future study. 

While all of the rocks were collected on the Moon, at least one probably started out on Earth…

JANUARY 25, 2019

Moon rock recovered by astronauts likely originated on Earth
by Curtin University

In findings published overnight in science journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, a sample collected during the 1971 Apollo 14 lunar mission was found to contain traces of minerals with a chemical composition common to Earth and very unusual for the moon.

[…]

Professor Nemchin said the chemistry of the zircon lunar sample indicated that it formed at low temperature and probably in the presence of water and at oxidised conditions, making it characteristic of Earth and highly irregular for the moon.

“It is possible that some of these unusual conditions could have occurred very locally and very briefly on the moon and the sample is a result of this brief deviation from normality,” Professor Nemchin said.
“However, a simpler explanation is that this piece was formed on the Earth and brought to the surface of the moon as a meteorite generated by an asteroid hitting Earth about four billion years ago, and throwing material into space and to the moon.

“Further impacts on the moon at later times would have mixed the Earth rocks with lunar rocks, including at the future Apollo 14 landing site, where it was collected by astronauts and brought back home to the Earth.”

Phys.org

Maybe Alan Shepard should have been paying closer attention to the geology than his golf swing.

Some, too many in my opinion, Moon rocks were given away by President Nixon.

Apollo moon rocks lost in space? No, lost on Earth
By TOBY STERLING, ASSOCIATED PRESS AMSTERDAM

Attention, countries of the world: Do you know where your moon rocks are?

The discovery of a fake moon rock in the Netherlands’ national museum should be a wake-up call for more than 130 countries that received gifts of lunar rubble from both the Apollo 11 flight in 1969 and Apollo 17 three years later.

Nearly 270 rocks scooped up by U.S. astronauts were given to foreign countries by the Nixon administration. But according to experts and research by The Associated Press, the whereabouts of some of the small rocks are unknown.

[…]

The Rijksmuseum, more noted as a repository for 17th century Dutch paintings, announced last month it had had its plum-sized “moon” rock tested, only to discover it was a piece of petrified wood, possibly from Arizona. The museum said it inherited the rock from the estate of a former prime minister.

The real Dutch moon rocks are in a natural history museum. But the misidentification raised questions about how well countries have safeguarded their presents from Washington.

[…]

ABC News

It’s a simple fact that the Moon rocks are not from Earth, are not meteorite fragments, nor were they manufactured by a Hollywood special effects department.

Any geoscientist (and there have been thousands from all over the world) who has studied lunar samples knows that anyone who thinks the Apollo lunar samples were created on Earth as part of government conspiracy doesn’t know much about rocks. The Apollo samples are just too good. They tell a self-consistent story with a complexly interwoven plot that’s better than any story any conspirator could have conceived. I’ve studied lunar rocks and soils for 45+ years and I couldn’t make even a poor imitation of a lunar breccia, lunar soil, or a mare basalt in the lab. And with all due respect to my clever colleagues in government labs, no one in “the Government “ could do it either, even now that we know what lunar rocks are like. Lunar samples show evidence of formation in an extremely dry environment with essentially no free oxygen and little gravity. Some have impact craters on the surface and many display evidence for a suite of unanticipated and complicated effects associated with large and small meteorite impacts. Lunar rocks and soil contain gases (hydrogen, helium, nitrogen, neon, argon, krypton, and xenon) derived from the solar wind with isotope ratios different than Earth forms of the same gases. They contain crystal damage from cosmic rays. Lunar igneous rocks have crystallization ages, determined by techniques involving radioisotopes, that are older than any known Earth rocks. (Anyone who figures out how to fake that is worthy of a Nobel Prize.) It was easier and cheaper to go to the Moon and bring back some rocks than it would have been to create all these fascinating features on Earth. [After writing these words I learned that virtually the same sentiments had already been expressed by some of my lunar sample colleagues.]

Randy L. Korotev, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences Washington University in St. Louis

Does anyone still think that this could have been a grand conspiracy involving NASA, Hollywood, almost every aerospace contractor that ever existed… as well as the thousands of geoscientists from all over the world who have studied the lunar rocks?

QEDirt

If it was a conspiracy, it must have involved the Soviet Union too. The Russians very nearly beat us to the Moon and back. Luna 15 was an unmanned probe designed to land on the Moon, retrieve a core from the regolith and return to Earth. Luna 15 was launched three days before Apollo 11. It was scheduled to land 2 hours before Eagle. However, it didn’t begin its descent until about 2 hours before Armstrong and Aldrin left the Moon to rendezvous with Columbia and return home. Unfortunately for the Russians, Luna 15 crashed.

Luna 15
This robotic Soviet sample return mission raced the U.S. crew of Apollo 11 to the Moon, but fell silent during its descent. Engineers believe it crashed into the side of a mountain due to slight error in its descent angle.

Results
Luna 15, launched only three days before the historic Apollo 11 mission to the Moon, was the second Soviet attempt to recover and bring lunar soil back to Earth.

In a race to reach the Moon and return to Earth, the parallel missions of Luna 15 and Apollo 11 were, in some ways, the culmination of the Moon race that defined the space programs of both the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1960s.

[…]

NASA

However, Luna 16, 20 and 24 did manage to land and return cores of lunar regolith to Earth and guess what?

Figure 5. Cross plot of FeO + MgO vs. Al2O3 (Lunar Sample Compendium C Meyer 2009, Lunar & Planetary Institute)

Below are charts I’ve made from data from dozens of literature sources and my own lab for what we geochemists call the “major elements” and “minor elements” in samples from those 6 Apollo mission and 3 Russian Luna missions that brought samples back from the Moon. To make it simple, I’ve stuck to just soil (regolith) samples. I’ve also included data for those lunar meteorites that are breccias because many to most of these rocks are composed of lithified soil. The lunar meteorites come from all over the Moon whereas the Apollo and Luna mission all come a small area of the nearside

Randy L. Korotev, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences Washington University in St. Louis

Here’s Dr. Korotev’s plot of FeOT vs Al2O3

Figure 6. Cross plot of FeOT vs. Al2O3 (Korotev)

This confuses people. On Earth, iron exists in the 2+ (ferrous) and 3+ (ferric) oxidation states so in chemical analysis of rocks, Fe concentrations are usually stated as % Fe2O3 because the ferric oxidation state is more common than ferrous oxidation state. On the Moon there is (effectively) no oxygen-bearing atmosphere so there are no iron 3+ iron minerals. The iron in pyroxene, olivine, and iron-titanium minerals like ilmenite is all in the ferrous (2+) oxidation state. To complicate the issue, some of the iron in every lunar soil exists as metal. Up to 10% of the iron in some of these sample is metallic, usually as iron-nickel metal derived from meteorites. So, in analyses of lunar samples, results for iron are usually stated as “total Fe as FeO” or FeOT. The anticorrelation in this plot occurs because soils on the left (basaltic) are dominated by the Al-poor, Fe-rich minerals pyroxene, olivine, and ilmenite whereas those on the right (feldspathic) are dominated by the Al-rich, Fe-poor mineral plagioclase.

Randy L. Korotev, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences Washington University in St. Louis

In almost every major and minor element cross plot, the lunar samples are distinctly different than Earth soils. The Apollo samples are consistent with lunar meteorites and with the Luna samples.

QEDirtquod erat demonstrandum by the dirt.

Oh… I almost forgot this: Horst Schist!

Image result for horst block usgs
Horst (USGS)
Image result for schist usgs
Schist (USGS)

Sadly, there doesn’t appear to be any schist on the Moon. If there was schist on the Moon, there would have been mud on the Moon in the distant past… and possibly life.

How about that, geology fans?

–Brett Cullen as Apollo 15 Mission Commander Dave Scott, From the Earth to the Moon,Episode 10, Galileo Was Right, 1998

Addendum

One of the comments suggested the the Apollo samples were just lunar meteorites gathered from Antarctica.

They weren’t identified as lunar meteorites until 1982. It wasn’t possible to identify them as lunar meteorites before we had examined rocks known to be from the Moon.

Allan Hills 81005 (ALHA 81005), the first meteorite to be recognized as originating from the Moon, was found during the 1981-82 ANSMET collection season, on January18, 1982. The three Yamato 79xxx meteorites were collected earlier, but not recognized to be of lunar origin until 1984. The first lunar meteorite to be found appears to be Yamato 791197, on 20 November 1979. However, it is not known when Calcalong Creek was found. The Meteoritical Bulletin says “after 1960,” but it was not recognized to be of lunar origin until 1990, so it may well have been collected earlier than Yamato 791197.

Randy L. Korotev, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences Washington University in St. Louis

There are only about 340 known lunar meteorites.

Meteorites are very rare rocks; lunar meteorites are exceedingly rare. It difficult to assess how rare they really are. Of the ~37,100 meteorite stones found in Antarctica, where record keeping has been superb, (1976-2014), 1 in 1050 meteorite stones is lunar (35 stones representing ~22 meteorites).

Another measure of rarity is mass. The total mass of all known lunar meteorites is about 222 kg (489 lbs.).

Randy L. Korotev, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences Washington University in St. Louis

Lunar meteorites come from a random distribution of locations on the Moon. The Apollo collected representative suites of samples ranging from dust to hand specimens chipped off of outcrops with hammers and core tubes of regolith from specific locations on the Moon.

Note how the meteorites are distributed across the entire the Fe-Al trend, while the Apollo and Luna samples are clustered in specific areas.

The Apollo clusters reflect the various landing sites. Apollo 11 and 12 landed in areas where the dominant geology was mare basalts. Apollo 14, 15, 16 an 17 landed in or near highland areas, where the geology was more complex.

Meteors also don’t come in core tubes…

Between 1969 and 1972 six Apollo missions brought back 382 kilograms (842 pounds) of lunar rocks, core samples, pebbles, sand and dust from the lunar surface. The six space flights returned 2200 separate samples from six different exploration sites on the Moon.

NASA

The Apollo missions returned nearly twice as much lunar material in less than 4 years than all of the lunar meteorites ever identified on Earth. But this material was from relatively small, specific areas. Lunar meteorites essentially provide a background trend.

It may seem, considering that 382 kg of well-documented rock and soil samples were obtained from nine locations by the Apollo and Luna missions, that a few small rocks from unknown points on the lunar surface cannot be very important. For several reasons, however, the lunar meteorites have provided new and useful information.

The Apollo missions all landed in a small area on the lunar nearside, and some of those missions were deliberately sent to sites known to be geologically “interesting,” but atypical of the Moon. (On Earth, Yellowstone National Park is geologically “interesting,” but hardly typical.) The gamma-ray and neutron spectrometers on the Lunar Prospector mission (1998-1999) have shown that all of the Apollo sites were in or near a unique and anomalously radioactive “hot spot” on the lunar nearside in the vicinity of Mare Imbrium. This existence of this hot spot, sometimes known as the Procellarum KREEP Terrane or PKT, indicates that the mare-highlands distinction of the ancient astronomers is not adequate in a geochemical sense. Many rocks collected on the Apollo missions that likely originated from the PKT (especially those from Apollos 12, 14, and 15) are neither mare basalts nor feldspathic breccias. They are rocks (usually impact-melt breccias) of intermediate FeO concentration (~10%) with high concentrations of the naturally occurring radioactive elements: K (potassium), Th (thorium), and U (uranium). Such rocks are often called “KREEP” because, in addition to K, they have high concentrations of other elements that geochemists call incompatible elements such as the rare-earth elements (REE, like lanthanum and cerium) and phosphorus (P). Lunar meteorite Sayh al Uhaymir 169 with a whopping 30 ppm Th is a “KREEPy” meteorite. Almost certainly, it derives from the PKT. Other meteorites that have high concentrations of Th, like NWA 4472/4485 and Dhofar 1442 also likely originated in or near the PKT. Most of the rest of the lunar meteorites appear to have come from outside the PKT because they have low concentrations, typically <1 ppm, of Th. This distribution is reasonable in that we believe that the lunar meteorites are rocks from randomly distributed locations on the lunar surface, and most locations on the lunar surface are not high in radioactivity.

Randy L. Korotev, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences Washington University in St. Louis

Addendum Part Deux

In response to a Moon landing hoax conspiracy theorist, a collection of terrestrial basalts to the FeO + MgO vs. Al2O3 plot. Circles are oceanic, triangles are continental, diamonds are Apollo basalts and basaltic lunar meteorites. I also added the Fiskenæsset Complex of SW Greenland. The yellow squares are gabbros, hornblendites and peridotites. The purple square is anorthosite.

The Columbia River Basalt Group (CRBG) plots very close to the average crust of the Earth. Terrestrial basalts don’t plot near mare basalts. Terrestrial anorthosite is well off the lunar trend line.

I completed the same exercise for the plot without MgO.

The anorthosite plots much closer to the Apollo 16 landing site. However, the basalts exhibit the same pattern: Well off the lunar trend line and nowhere close to the mare basalts (Apollo 11 and 12).

I did the same for Al2O3 vs SiO2

The continental basalts are literally off the SiO2 scale and there is a very poor correlation between mare and oceanic basalts. There are also major differences in the trace element plots.

For a detailed comparison of Earth, lunar, Mars basalts and HED meteorites, see: Ruzicak et al., 2000, Comparative geochemistry of basalts from the Moon, Earth, HED asteroid, and Mars: Implications for the origin of the Moon

From Ruzicka et al., 2000…

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It is as conclusive as it possibly could be that the rocks brought back by the Apollo astronauts were not from Earth. Lunar meteorites weren’t identified before 1982. Without the rocks and regolith brought back by the Apollo and Luna missions, we would have never been able to conclude that they were lunar meteorites.

References

Huang, H. (2012). Geochemistry of the Mesoarchean Fiskenæsset anorthosite complex and associated tonalite-trondhjemite-granodiorite (TTG) gneisses, southwestern Greenland.

McHone, J. Gregory (2004). EARLY MESOZOIC BASALTS OF THE POMPERAUG BASIN, SOUTHWESTERN CONNECTICUT: REGIONAL, STRATIGRAPHIC AND PETROLOGIC FEATURES

Reidel, S.P., Camp, V.E., Martin, B.S., Tolan, T.L., and Wolff, J.A., 2016, The Columbia River Basalt Group of western Idaho and eastern Washington—Dikes, vents, flows, and tectonics along the eastern margin of the flood basalt province, in Lewis, R.S., and Schmidt, K.L., eds., Exploring the Geology of the Inland Northwest: Geological Society of America Field Guide 41, p. 127–150, doi:10.1130/2016.0041(04).

Ruzicka, Alex, Snyder, Gittel, A Taylor, Lawrence. (2001). “Comparative geochemistry of basalts from the Moon, Earth, HED asteroid, and Mars: Implications for the origin of the Moon“. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. 65. 979-997. 10.1016/S0016-7037(00)00599-8.

Sun, Shen-Su, Nesbitt, R & Ya. Sharaskin, Anatoly. (1979). “Geochemical characteristics of Mid-Ocean Ridge Basalts“. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 44. 119-138. 10.1016/0012-821X(79)90013-X.

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153 thoughts on “Moon Rock Mineralogy: Yes, the Apollo missions were real, QEDirt

          • Great story – so far! (I only got through about 1/3 of it on lunch hour.) But I’m wondering if there is a typo. In the “background” you say that Lovell was one of the first 2 humans to see the far side of the moon. But weren’t all three astronauts together in the command module? Maybe I’m misreading it.

          • The quote is from the USS Little Rock Association. Little Rock was a cruiser that Roderick Middleton commanded. The entries are distinctly biased in favor of Navy and Marine Corps veterans.

            Bill Anders was a Naval Academy graduate, but he chose to be commissioned in the Air Force. I have three theories:

            1. Anders betrayed the navy, so the LRA “erased” him.
            3. Anders was asleep.
            2. There was only room for two of the astronauts to look out the window… and Anders was third after Lovell and Borman.

            My best guess is #3.

            Anders was the Lunar Module pilot…

            The three couches are essentially the same. The head rest can be moved 16 cm (6 1/2 inches) up and down to adjust for crewman height. Two armrests are attached to the back pan of the left and right couches. The center couch, which is occupied by the Lunar Module Pilot during launch, has no armrests. The translation and rotation controls can be mounted to any of the four arm rests. A support at the end of each armrest rotates 100 degrees to provide proper tilt for the controls. The couch seat pan and leg pan are formed of framing and cloth, and the foot pan is all steel. The foot pan contains a boot restraint device which engages the boot heel and holds it in place.

            https://history.nasa.gov/afj/ap16fj/02system_couches.html

            Since Apollo 8 did not bring a LM to the Moon, Anders was probably in the middle couch with no window view, until Borman or Lovell swapped seats with him, so he could look out the window.

          • That wasn’t my typo. It was a website I quoted. I don’t always check for other people’s typos.

    • Here….”Apollo moon rocks lost in space? No, lost on Earth”
      By TOBY STERLING, ASSOCIATED PRESS AMSTERDAM

      ..D’OH !

      • One of my classmates from the ‘tute took a very small moon rock sample home to his fraternity house to show to his friends and …lost it. The professor was livid and came over to look for it in the room. Upon opening the door to the room and seeing the utter disarray said, “I’ll begin the paperwork.”

    • “Attention, countries of the world: Do you know where your moon rocks are?

      The discovery of a fake moon rock in the Netherlands’ national museum should be a wake-up call for more than 130 countries that received gifts of lunar rubble from both the Apollo 11 flight in 1969 and Apollo 17 three years later.

      Nearly 270 rocks scooped up by U.S. astronauts were given to foreign countries by the Nixon administration. But according to experts and research by The Associated Press, the whereabouts of some of the small rocks are unknown.

      […]

      The Rijksmuseum, more noted as a repository for 17th century Dutch paintings, announced last month it had had its plum-sized “moon” rock tested, only to discover it was a piece of petrified wood, possibly from Arizona. The museum said it inherited the rock from the estate of a former prime minister.

      The real Dutch moon rocks are in a natural history museum. But the misidentification raised questions about how well countries have safeguarded their presents from Washington.”

    • Any supposed Moon Rock Museum that contains Petrified Wood as Lunar Samples is likely one fostered by a PT Barnum wannabe

  1. Another brilliant post, David. Excellently constructed and presented.

    I marvel at the level of your output for us over many posts.. Would have expected that at your productivity rate, some errors and weaknesses would creep in, but no! All eminently readable and very informative.

    Youir memoirs nwould make interesting reading. Are they published yet?

    Many thanks

    • They’d pretty much just be stories about dogs, alcohol, geology and geophysics… in that order… 😉

  2. Thanks David! I teach Intro Geology classes as an adjunct at three colleges and most of my students think the moon landing was a fake (thanks to various YouTube videos). I always tell them we have the rocks. Now I have a wonderful report to show them.

    • Depending on their age, I would recommend showing them the From the Earth to the Moon series.

  3. For people who are so disconnected from reality as to think Apollo was a fake, I doubt if any rational argument as outlined in this post will make the slightest difference.

    One of my favourite arguments for fake Apollo was that not a single photo shot on the moon showed any stars. Such arrogant ignorance is almost heroic! I’m sure I don’t need to explain why it would be impossible for the photos to show the stars. It’s actually quite ironic: if the photos did show the stars, then that really would be evidence that they had been faked!
    Chris

      • The lunar albedo is only 0.12, something that was a shock to me. I worked for the X PRIZE Foundation in 2005-2006, putting on an event called the X PRIZE Cup. For the 2006 event, we started the X PRIZE Lunar Lander Challenge. Long story short, we built a pair of circular lunar landscapes 90 meters apart where rockets were to take off and land. To make it realistic, we first talked to Harrison Schmitt at some length (by phone) to get his description of his landing site. Then we hired a lunar photographic expert who had a number of samples of the colors of the lunar regolith gathered from each of the six Apollo landing sites. I was really amazed at how dark they were – almost black. But they matched Schmitt’s description perfectly. My right-hand person, the late Dawn Brooke Owens and I went to a Home Depot in Las Cruces (the Cup was held at Las Cruces “International” Airport) and, after one screwup, got a paint mix that matched the color cards from our lunar expert. To my knowledge, the pads are still there as replicas of the lunar surface – at least in texture, features and color.

        Your article, Mr. Middleton, is wonderful. I’ve been in the space business my whole career, and I this was the first time I’ve read anything in such depth about lunar geology. Thank you so much for posting it. Ad Astra, good buddy!

    • Chris Wright
      August 15, 2019 at 3:54 am

      Thanks Dave for another most interesting post. I agree with Mothcatcher above…your level of productivity is outstanding!

      Chris…we do stargazing tours in NZ (www.stargazersbb.com) and sadly about 1/3 of the visitors (of all ages) suspect the landings were faked. The presence of Moon rocks does not prove we went to the Moon to them…they could have been collected by US robotic landers just like the Russians.

      However, the clincher for me is the videos of the lunar rover dust coming off the wheels…a lovely parabola just right for 1/6g settling down very very quickly. Driving at speed in flour/talcum powder/silt sized dry material on the Earth/ISS/Mars would produce clouds of dust with a different settling profile. End of story.

      • The presence of Moon rocks does not prove we went to the Moon to them…they could have been collected by US robotic landers just like the Russians.

        People believe we sent robots to the moon but didn’t send people? Oh, my aching brain. Maybe the Flying Spaghetti Monster has a mansion on the far side of the moon too.

        • Then there’s the fact that robots back then couldn’t have brought back anything more than small core tubes of regolith.

          No robot could collect a representative suite of samples ranging from dust to hand specimens chipped off of outcrops with hammers *and* core tubes of regolith.

    • After sunset on the far side, you can take excellent pictures of the stars from the Moon. Of course, you won’t see anything of the Moon.

      On the appearance of fakes (or almost fakes – I have a “piece of the Moon” that, on reading the fine print, is actually from a medium-sized meteorite that was analyzed and determined to be one of the meteorites that David mentioned) – “context” and “chain of custody” are just as vital pieces of information as the piece of rock itself. I think that most working geologists recognize their close cousins in forensic scientists.

      • Blow up the image, centering the magnification over the brightest “star” (approximately in the center top of the image).

        Note that it is NOT a point, as an actual star image would be if taken in a vacuum. Not knowing the exact context of the image, I won’t rule out a planetary object – but I would say it is unlikely.

        Almost certainly a dust speck. Some other smaller specks are obvious in the blown up image, as well as what are probably scratches on the lens.

        (The other thing that becomes obvious only when you magnify the image is that it is a composite, not a single image. Especially in the black, you can see the lines.)

  4. I have no doubt we went to the moon and there is no doubt much of the pics and video are fake. If you don’t understand why and how both statements are true you’re not qualified to lecture anyone on what did or didn’t happen. There’s very much more to the story.
    Otherwise, great stuff on the rocks. Very cool.

    • Matt, you seem to see yourself as an authority on photos (film) and video (film and transmissions) from the lunar surface taken decades ago; apparently so much so that you assert that nobody who disagrees with your points should be talking about this.

      Perhaps you could clarify by presenting your best evidence for your position on the matter. Here may not be the best place to do it, but perhaps you have a link or two to support your best evidence.

      • Yes, I’m waiting for Matt to put his best argument forward. Just saying, “If you don’t understand why and how both statements are true you’re not qualified to lecture anyone on what did or didn’t happen.”, doesn’t cut it for me!

        Perhaps Matt would be willing to call Buzz Aldrin a liar to his face.

    • “Matt August 15, 2019 at 4:03 am
      I have no doubt we went to the moon and there is no doubt much of the pics and video are fake.”

      A classic false strawman known as “Argumentum ad Ignorantiam; i.e. appeal to ignorance”

  5. To fill that out a bit from what I’ve read, it appears that the Dutch Prime Minister (Willem Drees) was indeed given a rock, which was about 100 to 1000 times too massive to be one of the “moon rock samples” given to other countries at the time. It was given to him personally by the then U.S. Ambassador (J. William Middendorf II). The actual circumstances of him being given this veritable boulder (compared with the others that different countries got) seem to have been un-clear, but it is doubtful that it was claimed to have been a rock from the moon at the time. It was not given to him by astronauts, who would have known for sure, but there were astronauts in the country at the time, further adding to the confusion.

    The rock was physically part of Drees’ estate for decades. When he died, those handling his estate gave the rock to the Rijksmuseum in 1992. Those people thought it was a moon-rock, and told the museum so.
    Later someone (presumably a geologist) noted that the rock was much more similar to petrified wood than moon-rocks, and the museum corrected the exhibit.

    Now, since then “moon landing deniers” like to point this rock out, as if it was the only international example of a moon rock, or even as if it was the only “surviving” rock from those expeditions to the moon (as support for the claim nobody ever went). The truth is that NASA has upwards of 800 pounds of lunar rock brought back over 6 landings. The Russians also brought back less than 1 pound of rock from a robotic probe, and the geologies match the specific unique nature of moon rocks. This very article talks in some detail about what those unique features are.

    If one is in the geology business, and working in planetary geology, and has a relevant need, one can have access to actual moon rocks upon application. This usually happens through a university and may involve travelling to the Lunar Sample Laboratory facility in Houston. Some universities have had samples on hand at times. For larger samples or more complex experiments, folks usually go to Houston.

    There are also tiny samples with an intact chain-of-custody at various museums in the world.

    The audacity of people who claim mankind never went to the moon is sometimes quite astounding.
    I hope that Nicholas doesn’t believe those deniers, as the preponderance of evidence is not on their side.

    • The Soviets actually returned three regolith cores with Luna 16, 20 and 24.

      It doesn’t get any more QED than this…

      • Thanks, David! Excellent work!
        Yup, meteorites and the moon are similar stuff, and Earth is significantly different stuff. As you say QED.

  6. Thank you for a most informative, very interesting article. I knew the lunar rocks could not have been manufactured on Earth. It is just in human nature that a certain percentage (higher than most think) of people will entertain stupid beliefs easily contradicted by known evidence.

    I suppose the hypothesis that the Moon originated from an impact between a proto-Earth and another hypothetical solar system body (named Theia) explains these differences as minerals and rocks originating after the impact under different conditions. The same elements however should be present in similar proportions before being gravity separated. One interesting aspect is that Oxygen isotopic ratios that are unique to different solar system bodies are almost identical for the Moon and the Earth.

    • Javier,

      Clearly, the Earth and the Moon had some common source material. I tend to think that the collision hypothesis is stronger than simply forming separately in the same part of the accretion disk, but like almost all other aspects of Precambrian and earlier geology, there are just too many missing puzzle pieces.

      • Great report, David! I looked up the petrographic microscope studies of the lunar anorthosite samples and think there is abundant support for the collision hypothesis, to wit: the anorthosites do not show any oscillitory zoning in the plagioclase, suggesting a cumulate origin (quietly cooling/crystallizing magma), there are shock features disrupting the twinning laminations, and you simply could not crystallize anorthosite at the lunar surface, it would chill into a basalt-like texture. Where this collision fragment originated I have no idea.

        • My igneous petrology textbook(Hyndman 1972)is sitting on the book shelf in my office. It has a section on the lunar basalts. I never even thought to open it until I read your comment.

          • David,What, in your opinion,is the best theory as to how the moon came into existence? Some theorists say that since the moon is about the size of the pacific ocean,the moon was once originally a piece of the earth that was blown out into space when the earth collided with an asteroid or another planet. I’ve even read one interesting book by author Don Wilson called,’secrets of our Spaceship Moon'(sequel to ‘our mysterious spaceship moon’) in which he offers the far fetched idea that the moon is actually an alien spaceship used for mining operations ions ago.What’s your take on all this?

          • The Pacific Ocean idea has been dead for a long time.

            I think the most likely hypothesis is a collision between Earth and smaller planetary body very early in Earth history… But it’s like trying to assemble a 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle with 11 pieces that the dog chewed up and no box top picture.

          • Dan and David, I think there may be a connection between the erratic orbit of Pluto and the collision fragment we call the moon. One thing that might be important is that the weak gravity of the moon almost demands that the material from this collision of the moon origin is that it was still at least partially molten, otherwise it would not morph into the round (gravity-stable) shape. What other body participated in the collision? Check out the gravity maps of the moon for a zone of anomaly, this would be the guilty party?

          • David
            You had me worried there for a minute. I saw your “D’OH !” and thought I missed something ! LOL
            p.s That is the icon I use for my FB pic… : )

          • It’s just I have a textbook that covered the petrology of the Apollo 11 and 12 basalts… And I forgot to use it as a source for this post.

          • I think that the Earth is an chthonic planet that was originally more Neptune-like in character. The Moon formed from vaporized rocky material that was blown off the Earth as part of a hydrodynamic flow when the light gasses in the atmosphere escaped.

          • Dan Cody,
            plate tectonics killed off the Pacific Ocean moon origin hypothesis.
            It just happens that at the present time the relationship between mid-ocean spreading ridges and continental plate location means there’s a big chunk of the earth that lacks continental plate. It’s called the Pacific Ocean.

            160 million years ago it didn’t exist

          • How do you think the moon came into existence? It’s amazing how perfectly the moon covers the sun during solar eclipses, made for that purpose by God.The Lord Jesus Christ described to the Apostles that one of the signs of the last days will be more frequent earthquakes in various places and signs in the heavens, the sun,the moon and the stars.He uses eclipses to get people’s attention as signs of some big event to occur on earth sometime in the future. The solar storms and the CME’S(Coronal Mass Ejections),The recent spate of near earth asteroid misses and the increase in fireball sightings,the asteroid or bolide that exploded over a Russian city in 2013 which the scientists never saw coming that injured over 1,000 people and damaged many buildings,etc.What the fetch is going on? I sense that there’s something up and God is losing his patience with an unrepentant,sinful world by slowly increasing these signs in intensity and frequency .Christ described to the Apostles how the quakes will increase in intensity and frequency like the birth pangs of a woman in various places of the world in the end times scenario.It seem like we’re reaching that point or are near the’ last days’ or the ‘end times’.

  7. We also have the Lunar Laser Reflectors left by Apollo missions 11, 14 and 15. They are located exactly were NASA says they left them, and since the time they said they left them. Anybody with a laser emitter and detector has been able to check it and it has been done by observatories all over the world.

    • Javier
      Another line of evidence is that petrologists studying the moon rocks have found minerals, often with anomalous titanium contents, that are unknown anywhere on Earth. No chance of faking them!

      Robotics was such a primitive field in 1969 that they could not have landed and retrieved large rocks broken off an outcropping boulder. Even today we have Teslas crashing into other vehicles!

      • Quartz is another good one. And calcite is one way to differentiate a lunar meteorite from an Apollo Moon rock…

        Some of the most common minerals at the surface of the Earth are rare or have never been found in lunar samples. These include quartz, calcite, magnetite, hematite, micas, amphiboles, and most sulfide minerals. Many terrestrial minerals contain water as part of their crystal structure. Micas and amphiboles are common examples. Hydrous (water containing) minerals have not been found on the Moon. The simplicity of lunar mineralogy often makes it very easy for me to say with great confidence “This is not a moon rock. “ A rock that contains quartz, calcite, or mica as a primary mineral is not from the Moon. Some lunar meteorites do, in fact, contain calcite. However, the calcite was formed on Earth from exposure of the meteorite to air and water after it landed. The calcite occurs as a secondary mineral, one that fills cracks and voids (see Dhofar 025). Secondary minerals are easy to recognize when the meteorite is studied with a microscope.

        http://meteorites.wustl.edu/lunar/howdoweknow.htm

  8. Caution:This condition has also spread to ‘icisil’, ‘TonyL’, and ‘Paul Penrose’ as well as a couple of other commentators who continually criticize humor on this website.They are hazardous to your health.Again,Let’s hope and pray for a speedy recovery of these naysayers.Thanks.

  9. Another fascinating post David, thank you. Like other people, I find the widespread belief that the Moon landings were faked extremely sad and have also tried to explain to students that this conspiracy fairy tale is absurd on so many levels. I wonder how much worse disbelief in the benefits of science will be when the general public finally sees how exaggerated the whole AGW scam really has been.
    Your posting is quite long so it is likely I may have not taken it all in first time, but I wonder how the stress on how different Earth and Moon rock is does raise some questions about the formation by collision theory, unless mixing of the two bodies was much smaller than one might expect. I suppose the subsequent differences in terms of minerals settling out by gravitational differentiation in a much hotter Earth and continued geologic activity here might explain much of this difference too.

    • The sad thing about AGW is that the core science is reasonably sound. The mindless exaggeration of it has sown doubt in the basic science.

      • Well said, David. Stefan–Boltzmann is every bit as solid as Ohm’s Law. But just as Ohm’s Law is only the first baby step in understanding a very complex electronic device, with inductance, capacitance, circuit coupling, stray signal paths and feedbacks and on and on. Likewise, Stefan–Boltzmann is only a tiny baby step in understanding the vast complexity of climate with its thousands of variables and feedbacks and chaotic non-linear functions. Unfortunately, climate study has become a branch of Political Science, an even more complex and less certain field.

  10. From my unpublished memoirs from when I was a field hand in the Amadeus Basin of Central Australia (1973):

    ‘After the trip to Mereenie anticline, I also assisted Gavin and John to collect probable Early Devonian fish from the Gosses Bluff impact crater (Young, 1985), where I met Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmidt, the first (and last) geologist to walk on the Moon. I bet him he’d never found fish fossils on the Moon! My fascination with impact craters continues to this day – but that’s another story.’

    Ciao
    John

    • Mine would be more like this…

      ‘After following Professor (Mountain goat) Tolley to the top of West Rock to see glacial striations on the diabase outcrop, Marie said, “Hey Bill, it’s time for a shot and a beer!” So, we scrambled back down to our vehicles, Bill Tolley’s old station wagon (AKA the starship) and my Dodge Dart, and drove to the nearest beer and pizza joint.’

      • With this single article and this post, you have all of your bases covered of “… dogs, alcohol, geology and geophysics…” except for the dogs. Good stuff, David!

      • Well, you do rings around me in science, but at least I share some things with you: my 1969 Dodge Dart with a slant-six – extremely dependable car for the time, with an engine that would last forever, and I have consumed copious amounts of beer and pizza in my life.

        Thanks for the interesting article (as well as all the others).

        • I had a ’72 Dodge Dart “Swinger” with a 318 CI V-8… It would haul @$$ when I could get it to start.

          • While living in Florida I had a 1968 dodge charger with a custom slant 6..You could not hurt that engine no-matter what. Slow in the first quarter but scary fast in the third…Unfortunately, Canada would not allow me to bring it home because the doors were welded shut…Grrrrrr…….

      • You didn’t bring a cooler with ice and beer! What kind of rock nerd are you that you would forget the first rule of being a Geologist

        • Haul a cooler up to the top of an outcrop? Besides West Rock is in New Haven, Connecticut… There are a lot of beer & pizza joints nearby… 🍻🍕

  11. It’s remarkable that as soon as you engage in conversation about climate change, you immediately get told that you obviously think the moon landings were faked. It’s very wearisome. Rebuffing with 75% of surviving moonshot astronauts are considered climate skeptic and ‘that’ NASA (ex)employee letter, usually shuts them up. By their own logic, a bloke who was actually on the moon must believe that the moon landing was faked!

    • So many scientists,engineers,etc.had worked so hard through the years in their endeavors of putting men on the moon and safely returning them to earth.How can anybody in their right minds question that? These conspiracy minded characters with their absurd ‘flat earth’ mentality are in their own world and they need to get back in touch with reality and recognize the fact of man’s greatest achievement: Landing and walking on the moon and safely returning them back to earth;not just once,but several times.

  12. The typical “Apollo was a hoax” types are beyond help and most of them I’ve been unfortunate enough to come across lack even the basic education required to understand the arguments against them, even though a few may be competent enough in their own fields. An interesting side note on the statement “It was easier and cheaper to go to the Moon and bring back some rocks than it would have been to create all these fascinating features on Earth.” is a You Tube by a Motion Picture Producer/Director who stated quite clearly that the technology to fake the Moon Walk footage did not exist in 1969 and that it would have been easier to actually go there in 1969 than to create and build the technology to fake it. Neither Ron Howard or Tom Hanks appear to have any doubts about the authenticity of Apollo and Howard stated in an interview that when Jim Lovell visited his office prior to the filming of “Apollo 13” it caused more excitement among the staff than any of the big name Hollywood stars who had been there. Even in Hollywood there remains at least a glimmer of reality.

      • David
        I just reread that conversation….

        ” Marcus… I have truly enjoyed our discussion and look forward to future conversations. I may even pen a post about the regolith mineralogy. And I thouroughly (thoroughly) second your thanks to Anthony and Charles the Moderator.”

        Dang, how did I miss that ?

        p.s. I wish I knew how to cross things out (line through) lol

      • David, thank you very much for your most generous acknowledgement. It is much appreciated.

        I also recognise your expertise in geology which is far in advance of my own. Accordingly I have approached a friend who is knowledgeable about lunar geology for his opinion. I will pass on any comments he makes. I do understand photography, cameras and what photographic film can and cannot record. Digital cameras were not used on Apollo.

        Although we may differ on our interpretation of the evidence presented by NASA for the validity of the Apollo missions and exactly what did happen between launch and splashdown it will be the unemotional examination of that evidence from which the real story will gradually emerge.

        The fact that so many people around the world have taken the time and trouble to examine the Hasselblad cameras which took those ‘iconic’ photographs, the severe limitations under which the astronauts had to work whilst using them and the numerous anomalies now identified in the Apollo record has given rise to this so-called conspiracy.

        The term ‘conspiracy theory’ was coined, in the mid 1960s, by the CIA, in an attempt to deflect the rising criticism of the Warren Commission report and its ‘lone gunman’ conclusion, about the assassination of JFK.

        The intention being that anyone labelled a ‘conspiracy theorist’ could then be assumed to be making inaccurate observations and should be ignored. All they were actually doing was presenting information at variance with the ‘official’ narrative. They were not necessarily wrong, as has been demonstrated on numerous occasion over the past 50 years – Operation Mockingbird being a particularly relevant example today.

        The 400,000 people who worked on Apollo were doing the very best job they could, They had no knowledge of any fabrication. Because they lived and worked right across the USA the only information available to them was what we all watched on TV and read in books, newspapers and magazines. That is all the Russians knew too.

        Because NASA had made the very brave decision that Apollo would be shown ‘live on TV’ the one thing that had to be avoided at all costs was an astronaut dieing, live on TV. Hence Plan B – the back up plan, was initiated. When and by whom that plan was created is still being uncovered.

        President Trump has ordered NASA to return humans to the Moon by 2024. Artemis was Apollo’s twin sister. I sincerely hope they succeed. Maybe it will be the First Woman we acknowledge. Then we can all see for ourselves the Apollo artefacts which remain on the Moon.

        • Marcus,

          I will more fully reply later… But I think the only obstacle in the way of Artemis is budgetary… “No bucks, no Buck Rogers.”

          🍻

          • Hello David. This continuing exchange must be up there with some of the most detailed on WUWT… If anything it demonstrates the commitment shown on both sides which has to be considered a positive result.

            Jarrah has now been able to post his annotated graph. I hope that illuminates his discussions. He has also commented on your previos responses.

            I agree with ‘no bucks, no Buck Rogers’. As a return trip to the Moon would, at the most, cost a fraction of the vast sums of taxpayer dollars spent on both Iraq wars and the ongoing Afghanistan pacification, at least with a Moon visit we would have something positive to show for it, which would be of value to all mankind. Not death, destruction and broken countries. Seems a small price (it is) to pay for progress.

            Kind regards, Marcus.

            Hi Jarrah

            Here are David Middleton’s responses to your comments, which I posted onto WUWT last night regrettably without the annotated graph.  My computor skills were not adequate.

            Are his points valid or not?  It is unlikely you will agree with him.

            This extract from David’s reply has been posted on WUWT.  I dont have his personal email, but a message can be sent to him by the administrators of the website, if needed.

            He is coming from an entrenched position and seems immune to change, whether justified or not.  

            Given his previously stated position for him to even acknowledge any deviation from ‘they landed’ would be tantamount to heresy.  Not going to happen…

            Thank you again for your explanations, I appreciate the time, knowledge and the commitment you have shown. 

            Best,  Marcus.

            Hello Marcus,

            Let me start by saying that if he’s going to quote Wiki Rational, he ought to check the Talk page. I described their entry on me as bogus and libellous.
            https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Talk:Jarrah_White

            I’ll have him know that I completed my Major in Geology in December 2017. Wiki Rational neglects to mention that. Gee, I wonder why! It also neglects to mention that I completed my Minor in Astrophysics just last month. 

            As I tell my peers and professors: I don’t care that I am in a scientific minority. The fact remains I am a geologist and an astrophysicist and thus of equal authority to talk about the subject as Middleton. Assuming he is indeed a geologist. I frankly don’t know him from a bar of soap and had never heard of him prior to your email inquires. But a search of his name on Google reveals he’s on the list of Climate Change Deniers: https://denierlist.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/dave-middleton/
            It says he works in the oil industry, the very industry responsible for excessive carbon pollution. Hmmm.

            WUWT is not a climate change denial website. 
             
            Yes, it is. Middelton cited Wikipedia in his essay. Here’s their entry on WUWT: “Watts Up With That? (or WUWT) is a blog[1] promoting climate change denial[7] that was created by Anthony Watts in 2006.[2][3]
            The blog predominantly discusses climate issues with a focus on anthropogenic climate change, generally accommodating beliefs that are in opposition to the scientific consensus on climate change”
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watts_Up_With_That%3F

            I had never heard of the website before your first email, but having a quick look at the website the first thing I see are articles disputing Al Gore’s stance on global warming or that climate change is killing off my home country’s Great Barrier Reef. From my chair, that says climate change denial.

            Everything I sourced from Dr. Korotev was properly attributed and I quoted Dr. Korotev’s explanations of them.

            I’ll be the judge of that.

            Lunar rocks and regolith all plot on or very close to the aluminum oxide – iron oxide trend line.  Earth rocks don’t.

            Yes, they do.

            As you had trouble posting my annotated copy of the diagram, I uploaded it to my sta.sh. The JSC-1A for example falls right between two of the samples along the trend line.
            https://sta.sh/0krfyirubp7
             
             The Lunar crust is almost entirely composed of basalt and feldspathic breccias, rich in anorthosite.  Earth’s crust is primarily composed of basalt and other mafic igneous & metamorphic rocks and granite and granitic igneous & metamorphic rocks.  Sedimentary rocks comprise a small percentage of the crust.

            This is a half truth. The basalts and mafics he refers to mostly reside on sea floors. It’s the oceanic crust that is composed mostly of this stuff. And since 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water you can expect the underlying basaltic seabed to amount for about 70% of the Earth’s crust. However, Korotev clearly specifies that he’s not talking about the oceanic crust, he’s talking about continental crust.

            Korotev states: “To represent Earth rocks, the average composition of the terrestrial continental crust and the range of tektites is shown on the figure.” [Emphasis added]

            The adjective of “continental” is very important here. As a quick Google search will tell you: “The continental crust is the layer of granitic, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks which form the continents and the areas of shallow seabed close to their shores, known as continental shelves.”
            https://www.sciencedaily.com/terms/continental_crust.htm

            No wonder the Earth crust he’s plotting doesn’t fall on the trend line! While basalts and gabbros can be found on or within the continental crust wherever there’s volcanoes, as stated above they are much more prevalent on the ocean floor.

            Middleton should also try reading the statement from Korotev he quoted, the one that appeared right next to the diagram in question: “Earth rocks contain many more different kinds of minerals that Moon rocks. Most Earth rocks plot below the lunar line because they contain quartz or calcite, which have essentially zero concentrations of FeO, MgO, and Al2O3.” [Emphasis added]

            Calcite is common to high-calcium sedimentary rocks, like limestone. Quartz is common to silica-rich sedimentary rocks like sandstone or felsic igneous rocks like granite.

            Incidentally, Korotev also makes this important exception with regards to Earth rocks and his trendline: “Some Earth rocks do plot on the lunar line, but they are all rocks composed of plagioclase and pyroxene or olivine.” [Emphasis added]

            These minerals are the three major minerals found in basaltic rocks. Obviously, his exception is mafic igneous rocks. Did Middleton even read the his own quote before writing “Earth rocks don’t”?

            Here’s a iron oxide vs manganese oxide plot that compares lunar meteorites, to HED meteorites, Mars meteorites and an assortment of Earth rocks. Some terrestrial basaltic rocks fall on the trend line, virtually all lunar meteorites are on the trend line.  The uniqueness of lunar meteorites is obvious.

            Now there’s the underestimation of the century! Those Earth rocks on the graph are not only falling on the trend line, they’re practically smothering it. You’d be hard pressed to find the lunar samples in that mess the Earth rocks have created along the line. And at least one HED is almost bang on the lunar trend line.

            Of course terrestrial basalts are similar.  Some terrestrial basalts even fall on the same trend line.  The point is that lunar rocks, whether basalts or feldspathic breccias don’t significantly deviate from the trend line.

            No, Middleton’s point of citing these statements and diagrams was, and I quote: “This leads to significant differences in the rocks.” My annotated Fe+Mg/Al diagram, and even the quotes by Korotev and his Fe/Mn diagram all indicate that terrestrial basalts can fall on or near the lunar trend line. This makes his argument about the moon rocks being unique from their terrestrial counterparts a moot issue.

            Of course they overlap.  Almost all of the 50 or so minerals identified in lunar rocks are present in Earth rocks.  Only a handful of uniquely lunar minerals have been identified.  There are just very few mineral types on the Moon relative to Earth’s nearly 4,000

            Again, Middleton is contradicting his original position. A minute ago he was arguing that there were “major mineralogical differences”, now out of the blue he suddenly agrees that the ranges for the minerals in lunar rocks overlap that of their terrestrial counterparts.

            As for unique lunar minerals. Three minerals were discovered in Apollo samples and have since also been found on Earth, the two most famous ones being Armalcolite and Tranquilityite. The latter was found in my home country of Australia! There has been a new iron-silicide mineral called Hapkeite found in lunar meteorites, believed to be formed from precipitation of iron and silicon during meteorite bombardment. However, to my knowledge it has never been found in Apollo samples.

            Amphiboles, micas and sulfides are common in terrestrial igneous rocks, including basalt.  My 1972 igneous petrology textbook even discusses the differences between Apollo 11 and 12 basalts and those on Earth.

            Korotev was not specific as to which amphiboles or micas he was referring to. And frankly, neither was Middleton. Micas are commonly associated with weathering and other such alternation processes, and amphiboles are often associated with metamorphism (i.e. rocks and minerals formed or altered by intense heat and pressure). Had he included a diagram like the one he posted in his response or at least been more specific the first time, I’d have commented on them.

            To be more specific: the micas referred to in the diagram that Middleton uses would be muscovite and biotite; and the amphibole associated with igneous rocks is hornblende. However, as Middleton’s own diagram shows, they are more prevalent in intermediate or felsic igneous rocks. In mafic rocks they are either lacking or absent, and in ultramafic they are totally non-existent. There is also an inversely proportional relationship in igneous rocks between the amounts of olivine and hornblende. A basalt that’s rich in olivine would have very little or no hornblende and vice versa. I’ve personally looked at many basalt thin sections under petrographic microscopes and been tasked with establishing the volume percentages of the minerals, and I can confirm the lack of or absence of hornblende in olivine-rich basalts. Since olivine is one of the major minerals in Apollo rocks, the absence of hornblende would be expected.

            Hornblende would also not be expected to form on the Moon or even in most meteorites because amphiboles are unstable in low pressure and waterless conditions. Likewise, biotite only forms in the presence of water. Because water could not survive on the daylight side of the atmosphereless Moon, we wouldn’t expect to find biotite on the Moon. In fact, there was a funny alleged incident on Apollo 11 in which Buzz Aldrin reported finding biotite crystals in one of the samples. Although he added “we’ll leave that for further analysis”, the geologists at Mission Control all went ballistic when they heard that. With comments like “You fool! Did you learn nothing from your geology training?” Basically those words. Every now traces of hornblende and micas have been found in Apollo samples, and it’s generally attributed to terrestrial contamination.

            Furthermore, I think the numbers attributed to volume percent are a bit off in Middleton’s diagram. I’ve seem many other diagrams like that online and in textbooks and they all indicate these minerals are lacking. Here’s a more specific one: https://flexiblelearning.auckland.ac.nz/rocks_minerals/rocks/images/content/chart.gif

            Minerals are categorized as either Major (>10% by volume), or Minor (1-10% by volume) or accessory (<1% by volume. Again, we can see that biotite would be almost completely absent in basalts and a basalt that has hornblende as a major mineral also has little or no olivine.

            As for sulfides, lower down on the page Korotev specifies that he's referring to pyrite. More commonly known as "Fool's Gold". Probably because its one of the most common sulfides on Earth. It typically occurs abundantly along quartz veins and in sedimentary rocks. In igneous rocks, terrestrial or otherwise, sulfides generally only occur as opaque accessory minerals (<1% by volume). Going back to the food analogies, accessory minerals in igneous rocks would be like if you purchased a bottle of soy milk with the fine print "may contain traces of dairy".

            “Rusty Rock” is very unusual.  Many of the Apollo 16 breccia’s exhibited a “rusty” appearance around metallic grains.  Rusty Rock was very unusual in that the “rust” was in the interior of the rock, pretty well eliminating contamination in the LM, CM or on Earth.  There are many other mineralogical and chemical “oddities” about this rock, and the Apollo 16 rocks in general.

            Sample 66095 "Rusty Rock" it's just the most famous of the rusted samples.  Hunter & Taylor (1981) reported that eighty-two of the Apollo 16 rocks they analyzed contained rust, thirty of it had it in abundant quantities. Rusty Rock and Big Muley were among them.
            http://articles.adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/nph-iarticle_query?1982LPSC…12..253H&data_type=PDF_HIGH&whole_paper=YES&type=PRINTER&filetype=.pdf
            Agrell et al 1970 also reported rust in the Apollo 11 samples they analyzed, and they reported up to 1500ppm of water. Rust was also found in Apollo 15 sample 15475. What I find perhaps most revealing about this ferric iron, is that while is is prevalent in Apollo samples it is totally absent in the Soviet samples – as would be expected on a world with no atmosphere and water.
            http://articles.adsabs.harvard.edu//full/1973LPI…..4…57B/0000057.000.html

            Only the Luna 24 sample contained about 1,000ppm of water and was found by drilling nearly 1.5 meters under the surface. The Apollo 12 and 17 samples contained up to 6,000ppm of water [Greenwood et al 2011; Taylor, personal communication].
            http://cosmochemists.igpp.ucla.edu/2011-2.pdf
            Their claim that it was delivered to the surface by comets is based on an underestimation of the range for terrestrial D/H ratios – which is in fact indistinguishable to that of "lunar" water.
            http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2010DPS….42.2112H

            And anyway, any water deposited on the surface by comets or solar winds or whatever would quickly be lost to space. The daylight temperatures are over 100°C and the vacuum drastically lowers the boiling point to sub zero temperatures. And the only places on the Moon where water has been found in the thousands of ppm is in the polar regions, where you can happily get ice accumulated in permanently shadowed craters and even much cooler daylight temperatures.

            One of the more popular excuses used by geologists who find abundant water or rust or other things they find in Apollo rocks that shouldn't be there is "contamination". By Middleton's own admission, the deep penetration of the rust in sample 66095 casts doubt on this explanation. And as stated above, many other Apollo 16 samples show abundant rust. And I think it's one of the strongest pieces of evidence supporting a hoax. How can a rock rust in an environment with no air or water to rust it?

            Abject nonsense.

            Bare assertion.

            I already substantiated my case concerning water and rust in the Apollo samples above. As for simulating cosmic-ray exposure, Leya et al (2000) reported that they simulated CRE ages of 1.6 million years and 3 million years respectively on artificial stony and iron meteorite targets at the SATURNE synchrontron. They used omnidirectional 1.6GeV proton fluxes of 1.427*10^8 protons/cm^2/s over 257.4hrs and 5.421*10^8protons/cm^2/s over 125.7hrs.

            https://www.researchgate.net/publication/234347605_Simulation_of_the_interaction_of_GCR_protons_with_meteoroids_On_the_production_of_radionuclides_in_thick_gabbro_and_iron_targets_irradiated_isotropically_with_16_GeV_protons

            When I did my BSc in geology, I cited Leya et al's paper as part of an assignment that I aced. Going by those fluxes and exposure times, I calculated it would take between about 1-3 years to simulate a CRE age of 170 million years. Probably shorter if using even higher fluxes.

            The Apollo regolith samples, Luna samples and lunar meteorites are all consistent with one another.

            This graph plots the samples as a function of ferrous iron oxide (FeO) against aluminum oxide (Al2O3). As stated above, many of the Apollo samples do in fact contain ferric iron oxide and makes them unique from the Soviet samples. This ferric iron would affects where they fall on the graph very noticeably. That's probably why the sample labelled "Earth" falls below the line. Because lunar geologists generally attribute ferric iron to contamination, it is often recalculated into the ferrous iron in tables like these.

            Had they plotted the rusted rocks with their very high ferric iron contents in mind, said rocks would be well below the trend line too. To illustrate my point, the JSC-1 and JSC-1A soil simulants are reported to contain ferric iron. I've plotted them with and without their ferric iron contents recalculated into ferrous iron. I've also plotted the terrestrial rocks and HEDs reported by Mason and Melson over the top of the graph so you can see where they fall on the trend line.

            https://sta.sh/015rl1ckv8bj

            Hope that answers your questions.

            Right off the bat, I have to say that during my years as a geology student, my professors strongly emphasized the dangers of climate change. Especially those who specialized in mineral resources and environmental sciences. I've had some interesting episodes during my training. But I never thought I'd see the day that, upon completing my degree, I'd be debating the authenticity of Apollo samples with a geologist who is apparently a climate change denier!

            Best wishes,
            Jarrah

          • Hello David. This continuing exchange must be up there with some of the most detailed on WUWT… If anything it demonstrates the commitment shown on both sides which has to be considered a positive result.

            Jarrah has now been able to post his annotated graph. I hope that illuminates his discussions. He has also commented on your previos responses.

            I agree with ‘no bucks, no Buck Rogers’. As a return trip to the Moon would, at the most, cost a fraction of the vast sums of taxpayer dollars spent on both Iraq wars and the ongoing Afghanistan pacification, at least with a Moon visit we would have something positive to show for it, which would be of value to all mankind. Not death, destruction and broken countries. Seems a small price (it is) to pay for progress.

            Kind regards, Marcus.

            Marcus,

            I have certainly enjoyed our conversation and I agree that a successful Artemis mission to the Moon could have a similar effect as Apollo 8…

            “We got millions of telegrams after we landed, but the one I remember most was, ‘Congratulations to the crew of Apollo 8. You saved 1968.’ We didn’t save it [ourselves] — but a lot of the people who made Apollo work saved it.”
            — Frank Borman, Apollo 8 astronaut

            Newsman Walter Cronkite remembers the year of Apollo 8: “The whole 1960s really culminating in 1968 were the most terrible decade, undoubtedly, of the twentieth century and very possibly our entire history, even including the decade of the Civil War. America was divided as it never had been since the Civil War and by the Vietnam War, by the civil rights fight.

            “Everything seemed to come to a head in ’68. There were the assassinations of two of the leaders of the more liberal causes. Bobby Kennedy, shortly after winning that election in California that probably would have put him over the top as the presidential candidate that year, and Martin Luther King, of course, in Memphis, was a terrible blow to the entire cause of civil rights. By the summer of ’68 the Democratic convention turned out to be a terrible shambles of violence and counter-violence by the Chicago police… By December the country was pretty far down.”

            Regarding your acquaintance’s diatribe, it is nothing but a series of red herring, straw man and ad hominem fallacies that I will dissect in detail over the next few days.

          • I’m not going to waste time on the series of red herring, straw man and ad hominem fallacies. The geological aspects have been addressed in Addendum Part Deux at the end of the post.

        • The fact that so many people around the world have taken the time and trouble to examine the Hasselblad cameras which took those ‘iconic’ photographs, the severe limitations under which the astronauts had to work whilst using them and the numerous anomalies now identified in the Apollo record has given rise to this so-called conspiracy.

          Some of us spent a lot of time looking at Beatles albums for “Paul is dead” clues.

          I don’t doubt your expertise in photography or your sincerity. But I do know that the photos and videos are consistent with no atmosphere, low gravity, a very bright surface and low Sun angles.

          The term ‘conspiracy theory’ was coined, in the mid 1960s, by the CIA, in an attempt to deflect the rising criticism of the Warren Commission report and its ‘lone gunman’ conclusion, about the assassination of JFK.

          There’s no evidence to support anything other than Lee Harvey Oswald acting alone.

          The 400,000 people who worked on Apollo were doing the very best job they could, They had no knowledge of any fabrication. Because they lived and worked right across the USA the only information available to them was what we all watched on TV and read in books, newspapers and magazines. That is all the Russians knew too.

          It wasn’t televized in Russia. They observed the missions as closely as possible through telescopes and telemetry. We agreed to exchange rock and regolith samples with the Soviets in 1971. The people with the best motive and means to expose a hoax were the Soviets.

          • David, here is my email to Jarrah White, the person I mentioned as being more knowledgeable than me about lunar geology, and then his reply to me. He has agreed that it can all be posted onto WUWT. Regrettably I have been unable to include the annotated graph to which Jarrah refers, my computer skills are somewhat lacking in that regard.

            Hi Jarrah, A bit of background first. 

            I have checked onto this website  http://www.wattsupwiththat.com  on a regular, almost daily, basis for the past 10 years, ever since the climategate emails were released in 2009.  The site mainly discusses climate change and related matters from a sceptical viewpoint.  It also posts on other subjects which are of interest to the 100,000+ people who log on each day.  One of those subjects is space and in particular Apollo.

            I recently posted some comments about Apollo and its viability onto an article, from NASA, which appeared on 8th Aug entitled ‘How NASA will protect astronauts from Space radiation at the Moon’.  One of the other commentators was David Middleton. who is a geologist and evidently very knowledgeable about the geology as it relates to those Apollo Moon rocks.  He quotes extensively from detailed papers which, if I am honest, rather went over my head.

            I made some points to him and anyone else reading them about Apollo, with which David obviously disagreed.  He did acknowledge that his ’27 astronauts who went to the Moon’ was incorrect, it should have been 24 with 3 going twice – Young, Cernan and Lovell.   I tried to keep my own exchanges polite, to the point and friendly which, rather to my surprise, was reciprocated.  To the extent that David has now publicly acknowledged that our exchanges were the catalyst for him to post a further, much more detailed article today, entitled ‘Moon Rock Mineralogy: Yes, the Apollo missions were real, QEDirt.’

            It is this latest posting which, when I had read it, I immediately thought of you and your recent qualification.  And especially your very detailed descriptions of lunar mineralogy during the latest Apollo Detectives discussion.  I would be grateful if you could look it over and let me know what your opinions are.  Has he made valid points or are the reports biased and just supportive of NASA’s claims?  I recall that you made the point that much of what is claimed to be from the Moon could equally have originated here on Earth.

            The WUWT site is named for Anthony Watts who created it and is a professional meteorologist.  It is also very well moderated and occasionally does allow some ‘trolls’ to post, mainly so they can be exposed by the worldwide community who log on each day.  Quite obviously foul and abusive language is right out, as are personal attacks.  There are some very knowledgeable scientists and specialist who regularly comment, which makes those comments as interesting as the original subject.   Quite a few are from Australia.  Which is why i like it…

            Best, Marcus.

            From: Jarrah White

            Hello Marcus,

            I generally don’t deal with climate change denial websites, as I think denying climate change is like denying that the sky is blue. However, I had a quick look through his articles. While I have not yet to read it from start to finish, I noticed that he has lifted a diagram and sections from Randy Korotev’s website. Many times, I see people using the information on that website incorrectly and I’ve been put in the position of having to set them straight. So I’ll comment on that for now.

            Specifically, Middleton uses a graph that plots “lunar meteorites” as a function of ferrous and magnesium oxides against aluminium oxides. This diagram compares lunar rocks with “chondrites” and “earth crust”. It’s important to understand what Korotev means by that though. If you actually read his website, you’ll note he is mostly explaining why moon rocks are different from sedimentary rocks on Earth. Sedimentary rocks are the products of alteration by weathering and other Earthly processes here on Earth. The Apollo rocks are igneous rocks, rocks that formed from the solidification of magma.

            Similarly, chondrites – while the most common meteorites found on Earth – are absolutely nothing like moon rocks. They are not even igneous. There are two types of stony-meteorites: chondrites and achondrites. The former are made up of tiny silicate grains called chondrules. Through accretion during the formation of the solar system , these chondrules accumulated into more massive objects. Some of these objects fell to Earth as the chondrites we know, others accumilated so much mass that they melted and later solidified. Stony meteorites from these worlds that are called achondites. Such meteorites include lunar metorites, mercury meteorites, mars meteorites and meteorites from asteroids. Incidentally, there have been cases of HED (Howardite, Eucrite, Diogenite) achondrites being misidentified as lunar meteorites and vice versa due to their similar chemistries and mineralogy.

            Obviously, you compare Apollo rocks with Earth sedimentary rocks and chrondites, you’re gonna compare apples to oranges. Many readers seem to have interpreted his website as applying to Earth rocks and non-lunar meteorites in general. Ironically, Korotev himself makes a passing mention of the similarities between Earth basalts and lunar meteorites: “Lunar mare basalts, as well as basaltic meteorites from Mars, bear a strong resemblance to basalts from Earth. In the absence of a fusion crust, there is little about a lunar mare basalt that would provoke much interest in a geologist handed the rock by someone asking   “what’s this?  “ Careful examination under the microscope might reveal some suspicious features – the lack of certain minerals and abundance of others (ilmenite) or the low sodium content of the feldspar. However, chemical tests would be required to prove a lunar or martian origin.”

            I took the liberty of annotating Korotev’s graph to see where various HED meteorites and Earth basalts fall on the graph. As you can see, these are a much better match. I used the chemical compositions for the JSC-1 and JSC-1A lunar regolith stimulant as reported by McKay and in the accompanying documentation for the latter (I own about 25kg of the stuff); and the compositions for various HED and Earth basalts reported by Mason & Melson.

            Middleton quotes Korotev as saying ” Only four minerals – plagioclase feldspar, pyroxene, olivine, and ilmenite – account for 98-99% of the crystalline material of the lunar crust. [Material at the lunar surface contains a high proportion of non-crystalline material, but most of this material is glass that formed from melting of rocks containing the four major minerals.] The remaining 1-2% is largely potassium feldspar, oxide minerals such as chromite, pleonaste, and rutile, calcium phosphates, zircon, troilite, and iron metal. Many other minerals have been identified, but most are rare and occur only as very small grains interstitial to the four major minerals”

            The minerals he’s referring to are common to mafic igneous rocks. If you recall back to McCay’s article of JSC-1 – simulated lunar soil derived from crushed Earth basalts – said minerals fall within thesame range as the Apollo rocks they are simulating. ” The minerals found in JSC-1, plagioclase, pyroxene, olivine, ilmenite, and chromite, are also characteristic of many lunar basalts and mare soils (Figure 5). The compositional ranges of these lunar minerals generally overlap the ranges of their terrestrial counterparts”
            https://www.lpi.usra.edu/lunar/strategies/jsc_lunar_simulant.pdf

            Middelton then quotes Korotev on: “Some of the most common minerals at the surface of the Earth are rare or have never been found in lunar samples. These include quartz, calcite, magnetite, hematite, micas, amphiboles, and most sulfide minerals. Many terrestrial minerals contain water as part of their crystal structure. Micas and amphiboles are common examples. Hydrous (water containing) minerals have not been found on the Moon.”

            This is particularly amusing because calcite, micas, amphiboles and sulfides are sedimentary minerals – of course you wouldn’t expect to find them in igneous rocks! Saying they don’t exist in the Apollo rocks is like arguing there’s no chocolate in garden salads or no meat in a vegan dish. The only igneous rocks to contain huge amounts of quartz are either felsic (i.e. granites) or are mostly made of glass. The Apollo rocks are mafic. Mafic basically means it contains more iron and magnesium based minerals, Felsic means it contains mostly feldspar and quartz. Now there are high-silica glasses among the Apollo samples, you’ll recall some geologists believe tektites are from the moon because of there chemical similarities to such glasses. Hematite and magnetite actually have been found in Apollo samples, they are examples of ferric iron oxide supposedly absent in the Apollo samples. I’m sure you recall the photos of the rusted Apollo 16 rocks I showed on Apollo Detectives. And I’m sure you’ll also remember that the rocks do indeed contain huge amounts of water, between 150-6,000ppm of water. You’ll recall I mentioned there are huge back and fourths between among geologists as to whether the water and rust in the Apollo samples is lunar in origin or contamination. I think it’s easy to guess which side Korotev roots for.

            I see Middleton also quoted the section from the end of Korotev’s website about why he believes the moon rocks aren’t fake. It’s almost not even worth commenting on, as it mostly consists of the usual easily debunked claims that I disputed on the Apollo Detectives. Mainly the claim that there’s no significant amounts of water in the rocks, their supposed lack of oxidation (rust), and cosmic-ray and solar wind exposure which I explained can be replicated at the SATURNE synchrontron.

            If I get the time to read the rest of Middleton’s article I’ll get back to you. Hope that helps for now.

            Best wishes, Jarrah

          • From: Jarrah White

            Hello Marcus,

            Jarrah White…

            Jarrah White (April 14, 1980–) is an Australian conspiracy theorist known mostly for his long-running series of YouTube videos claiming that the Moon landings were hoaxed. In addition to the MoonFaker videos, he also maintains a website with the same name and his beliefs about the hoax have led him to a few confrontations with notable skeptics on and off the Internet. He likes to style himself “Grandson of the Apollo Moon Hoax Theory”.

            His geology expertise…

            According to the biography on White’s website, he “holds Certificate III & IV with distinctions in Screen (a Film & TV course) at Sydney Institute of TAFE”, which would explain why his videos have better production values than the average webcam-shot YouTube dreck. He also claims to be studying for a BSc in astrophysics. Though there have been reports he has been doing the same subject many years in a row.

            https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Jarrah_White

            I generally don’t deal with climate change denial websites, as I think denying climate change is like denying that the sky is blue. However, I had a quick look through his articles. While I have not yet to read it from start to finish, I noticed that he has lifted a diagram and sections from Randy Korotev’s website. Many times, I see people using the information on that website incorrectly and I’ve been put in the position of having to set them straight. So I’ll comment on that for now.

            WUWT is not a climate change denial website.  Everything I sourced from Dr. Korotev was properly attributed and I directly quoted Dr. Korotev’s explanations..

            Specifically, Middleton uses a graph that plots “lunar meteorites” as a function of ferrous and magnesium oxides against aluminium oxides. This diagram compares lunar rocks with “chondrites” and “earth crust”. It’s important to understand what Korotev means by that though. If you actually read his website, you’ll note he is mostly explaining why moon rocks are different from sedimentary rocks on Earth. Sedimentary rocks are the products of alteration by weathering and other Earthly processes here on Earth. The Apollo rocks are igneous rocks, rocks that formed from the solidification of magma.

            Similarly, chondrites – while the most common meteorites found on Earth – are absolutely nothing like moon rocks. They are not even igneous. There are two types of stony-meteorites: chondrites and achondrites. The former are made up of tiny silicate grains called chondrules. Through accretion during the formation of the solar system , these chondrules accumulated into more massive objects. Some of these objects fell to Earth as the chondrites we know, others accumilated so much mass that they melted and later solidified. Stony meteorites from these worlds that are called achondites. Such meteorites include lunar metorites, mercury meteorites, mars meteorites and meteorites from asteroids. Incidentally, there have been cases of HED (Howardite, Eucrite, Diogenite) achondrites being misidentified as lunar meteorites and vice versa due to their similar chemistries and mineralogy.

            Lunar rocks and regolith all plot on or very close to the aluminum oxide – iron oxide trend line.  Most Earth rocks don’t.  The Lunar crust is almost entirely composed of basalt and feldspathic breccias/anorthosite.  Earth’s crust is primarily composed of basalt and other mafic igneous & metamorphic rocks and granite and granitic igneous & metamorphic rocks.  Sedimentary rocks comprise a small percentage of the crust.

            Here’s Korotev’s iron oxide vs manganese oxide plot that compares lunar meteorites, to HED meteorites, Mars meteorites and an assortment of Earth rocks.

            Some terrestrial basaltic rocks fall on the trend line, virtually all lunar meteorites are on the trend line.  The uniqueness of lunar meteorites is obvious.

            Obviously, you compare Apollo rocks with Earth sedimentary rocks and chrondites, you’re gonna compare apples to oranges. Many readers seem to have interpreted his website as applying to Earth rocks and non-lunar meteorites in general. Ironically, Korotev himself makes a passing mention of the similarities between Earth basalts and lunar meteorites: “Lunar mare basalts, as well as basaltic meteorites from Mars, bear a strong resemblance to basalts from Earth. In the absence of a fusion crust, there is little about a lunar mare basalt that would provoke much interest in a geologist handed the rock by someone asking “what’s this? “ Careful examination under the microscope might reveal some suspicious features – the lack of certain minerals and abundance of others (ilmenite) or the low sodium content of the feldspar. However, chemical tests would be required to prove a lunar or martian origin.”

            I took the liberty of annotating Korotev’s graph to see where various HED meteorites and Earth basalts fall on the graph. As you can see, these are a much better match. I used the chemical compositions for the JSC-1 and JSC-1A lunar regolith stimulant as reported by McKay and in the accompanying documentation for the latter (I own about 25kg of the stuff); and the compositions for various HED and Earth basalts reported by Mason & Melson.

            Of course terrestrial basalts are similar.  Some terrestrial basalts even fall on the same trend line.  The point is that lunar rocks, whether basalts or feldspathic breccias don’t significantly deviate from the trend line.

            For a detailed comparison of Earth, lunar, Mars and HED basalts, see: Ruzicak et al., 2000, Comparative geochemistry of basalts from the Moon, Earth, HED asteroid, and Mars: Implications for the origin of the Moon

            From Ruzicka et al., 2000…

            Pages from RuzickaEtal2001-moonoriginPages from RuzickaEtal2001-moonorigin-2Pages from RuzickaEtal2001-moonorigin-3Pages from RuzickaEtal2001-moonorigin-4Pages from RuzickaEtal2001-moonorigin-5Pages from RuzickaEtal2001-moonorigin-6Pages from RuzickaEtal2001-moonorigin-7Pages from RuzickaEtal2001-moonorigin-8

            Middleton quotes Korotev as saying ” Only four minerals – plagioclase feldspar, pyroxene, olivine, and ilmenite – account for 98-99% of the crystalline material of the lunar crust. [Material at the lunar surface contains a high proportion of non-crystalline material, but most of this material is glass that formed from melting of rocks containing the four major minerals.] The remaining 1-2% is largely potassium feldspar, oxide minerals such as chromite, pleonaste, and rutile, calcium phosphates, zircon, troilite, and iron metal. Many other minerals have been identified, but most are rare and occur only as very small grains interstitial to the four major minerals”

            The minerals he’s referring to are common to mafic igneous rocks. If you recall back to McCay’s article of JSC-1 – simulated lunar soil derived from crushed Earth basalts – said minerals fall within thesame range as the Apollo rocks they are simulating. ” The minerals found in JSC-1, plagioclase, pyroxene, olivine, ilmenite, and chromite, are also characteristic of many lunar basalts and mare soils (Figure 5). The compositional ranges of these lunar minerals generally overlap the ranges of their terrestrial counterparts”
            https://www.lpi.usra.edu/lunar/strategies/jsc_lunar_simulant.pdf

            Of course they overlap.  Almost all of the 50 or so minerals identified in lunar rocks are present in Earth rocks.  Only a handful of uniquely lunar minerals have been identified.  There are just very few mineral types on the Moon relative to Earth’s nearly 4,000.

            Middelton then quotes Korotev on: “Some of the most common minerals at the surface of the Earth are rare or have never been found in lunar samples. These include quartz, calcite, magnetite, hematite, micas, amphiboles, and most sulfide minerals. Many terrestrial minerals contain water as part of their crystal structure. Micas and amphiboles are common examples. Hydrous (water containing) minerals have not been found on the Moon.”

            They are missing in Moon rocks and common in Earth rocks.

            This is particularly amusing because calcite, micas, amphiboles and sulfides are sedimentary minerals – of course you wouldn’t expect to find them in igneous rocks! Saying they don’t exist in the Apollo rocks is like arguing there’s no chocolate in garden salads or no meat in a vegan dish. The only igneous rocks to contain huge amounts of quartz are either felsic (i.e. granites) or are mostly made of glass. The Apollo rocks are mafic. Mafic basically means it contains more iron and magnesium based minerals, Felsic means it contains mostly feldspar and quartz.

            Amphiboles, micas and sulfides are common in terrestrial igneous rocks, including basalt.  My 1972 igneous petrology textbook even discusses the differences between Apollo 11 and 12 basalts and those on Earth.

            https://geology.com/rocks/basalt.shtml

            Now there are high-silica glasses among the Apollo samples, you’ll recall some geologists believe tektites are from the moon because of there chemical similarities to such glasses. Hematite and magnetite actually have been found in Apollo samples, they are examples of ferric iron oxide supposedly absent in the Apollo samples. I’m sure you recall the photos of the rusted Apollo 16 rocks I showed on Apollo Detectives. And I’m sure you’ll also remember that the rocks do indeed contain huge amounts of water, between 150-6,000ppm of water. You’ll recall I mentioned there are huge back and fourths between among geologists as to whether the water and rust in the Apollo samples is lunar in origin or contamination. I think it’s easy to guess which side Korotev roots for.

            Many of the Apollo 16 breccias exhibited a “rusty” appearance around metallic grains.  Rusty Rock was very unusual in that the “rust” was in the interior of the rock, pretty well eliminating contamination in the LM, CM or on Earth.  There are many other mineralogical and chemical “oddities” about this rock, and the Apollo 16 rocks in general.

            https://curator.jsc.nasa.gov/lunar/lsc/66095.pdf

            I see Middleton also quoted the section from the end of Korotev’s website about why he believes the moon rocks aren’t fake. It’s almost not even worth commenting on, as it mostly consists of the usual easily debunked claims that I disputed on the Apollo Detectives. Mainly the claim that there’s no significant amounts of water in the rocks, their supposed lack of oxidation (rust), and cosmic-ray and solar wind exposure which I explained can be replicated at the SATURNE synchrontron.

            Abject nonsense.

            The Apollo regolith samples, Luna samples and lunar meteorites are all consistent with one another.

             

  13. “It was easier and cheaper to go to the Moon and bring back some rocks than it would have been to create all these fascinating features on Earth. – David Middleton”

    It’s easier to pick them out and off the surface of the ice in Antarctica. NASA have been doing it for years. Wernher von Braun participated in a field trip to Antarctica, organized for him and several other members of top NASA management during the local summer of 1966-67. We know it wasn’t that hard to obtain them; and he was a rocket scientist! 😉

    So, we had moon rock well before any mission successfully returned samples – robotic or manned.
    The fact that robots did return samples (Luna 16, 20, and 24) proved unmanned sampling was possible.

    And it is very strange to me that in order to explain the oddities of some samples you have to be able to swallow the story that they are in fact just Earth meteorites they found on the moon! 😉

    *The US Antarctic Meteorite program, is a cooperative effort among NASA, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and ANSMET, and the Smithsonian Institution (SI).
    **The Antarctic Search for Meteorites program (ANSMET) is a US-led field-based science project that recovers meteorite specimens from Antarctica.

    • There are only about 340 known lunar meteorites.

      Meteorites are very rare rocks; lunar meteorites are exceedingly rare. It difficult to assess how rare they really are. Of the ~37,100 meteorite stones found in Antarctica, where record keeping has been superb, (1976-2014), 1 in 1050 meteorite stones is lunar (35 stones representing ~22 meteorites).

      Another measure of rarity is mass. The total mass of all known lunar meteorites is about 222 kg (489 lbs.).

      http://meteorites.wustl.edu/lunar/moon_meteorites.htm

      Lunar meteorites come from a random distribution of locations on the Moon. The Apollo samples were suites from specific locations on the Moon.

      Note how the meteorites are distributed across the entire the Fe-Al trend, while the Apollo and Luna samples are clustered in specific areas.

      Meteors also don’t come in core tubes…

      Between 1969 and 1972 six Apollo missions brought back 382 kilograms (842 pounds) of lunar rocks, core samples, pebbles, sand and dust from the lunar surface. The six space flights returned 2200 separate samples from six different exploration sites on the Moon.

      https://curator.jsc.nasa.gov/lunar/

      The Apollo missions returned nearly twice as much lunar material in less than 4 years than all of the lunar meteorites ever identified on Earth.

      It may seem, considering that 382 kg of well-documented rock and soil samples were obtained from nine locations by the Apollo and Luna missions, that a few small rocks from unknown points on the lunar surface cannot be very important. For several reasons, however, the lunar meteorites have provided new and useful information.

      The Apollo missions all landed in a small area on the lunar nearside, and some of those missions were deliberately sent to sites known to be geologically “interesting,” but atypical of the Moon. (On Earth, Yellowstone National Park is geologically “interesting,” but hardly typical.) The gamma-ray and neutron spectrometers on the Lunar Prospector mission (1998-1999) have shown that all of the Apollo sites were in or near a unique and anomalously radioactive “hot spot” on the lunar nearside in the vicinity of Mare Imbrium. This existence of this hot spot, sometimes known as the Procellarum KREEP Terrane or PKT, indicates that the mare-highlands distinction of the ancient astronomers is not adequate in a geochemical sense. Many rocks collected on the Apollo missions that likely originated from the PKT (especially those from Apollos 12, 14, and 15) are neither mare basalts nor feldspathic breccias. They are rocks (usually impact-melt breccias) of intermediate FeO concentration (~10%) with high concentrations of the naturally occurring radioactive elements: K (potassium), Th (thorium), and U (uranium). Such rocks are often called “KREEP” because, in addition to K, they have high concentrations of other elements that geochemists call incompatible elements such as the rare-earth elements (REE, like lanthanum and cerium) and phosphorus (P). Lunar meteorite Sayh al Uhaymir 169 with a whopping 30 ppm Th is a “KREEPy” meteorite. Almost certainly, it derives from the PKT. Other meteorites that have high concentrations of Th, like NWA 4472/4485 and Dhofar 1442 also likely originated in or near the PKT. Most of the rest of the lunar meteorites appear to have come from outside the PKT because they have low concentrations, typically <1 ppm, of Th. This distribution is reasonable in that we believe that the lunar meteorites are rocks from randomly distributed locations on the lunar surface, and most locations on the lunar surface are not high in radioactivity.

      http://meteorites.wustl.edu/lunar/moon_meteorites.htm

    • There’s also the fact that they didn’t identify the first lunar meteorite until 1982. Without the rocks brought back by the Apollo astronauts, they had no means of identifying lunar meteorites.

    • The fact that large numbers of meteorites exist on the high Antarctic ice cap (very difficult to reach) was not even known until 1976 when a Japanese group discovered them.
      Beginning in 1978, a joint NASA-NSF team began to make yearly collection trips to the upper ice, where they camp out and cover ground on snowmobiles. The program is still active. Returned meteorites are curated for scientific study in the original lunar curation facility at NASA-JSC.

  14. The excitement of this lunar exploration invigorated analytical chemists. I was one. I saw the grainy TV, live, of Neil Armstrong from my analytical chemistry lab. We hoped for our modest lab to be chosen to analyse moon rocks, but like most others, it was not. The bulk of the laboratories chosen for this historic work were from academia and government. Big name institutions.
    For lunar material collected by astronauts, one of the first comprehensive comparisons of labs was by analytical chemist George H Morrison, writing in the top journal “Analytical Chemistry”. See https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/ac60302a032

    Laboratories routinely advertised their prowess in terms of accuracy and precision for given ranges of concentration in rocks and soils. When we saw Morrison’s 1971 seminal paper, many of us were gobsmacked, because many of these top labs disagreed with each other – unacceptably, at times. This was historic, too, because the word “gobsmacked” was still to be invented in 1971.

    Lessons were learned then. They get forgotten from time to time. The interlaboratoty comparison results remind me now of the way that offices like GISS and Hadley and our BOM do their homogenizing and comparisons with each other. Worse still, we see the CMIP series of comparisons of global climate model outputs being compared with each other and even averaged, for Gawd’s sake. Part of the modellers’ problem of very poor agreement with each other is the lack of a standard for absolute comparison. With a 100% pure Calcium Plagioclase from the moon (Anorthosite) earlier analytical chemists had such a standard. They devised and used more. The competing labs could be homogenized with a fair chance of success.

    The competitors in the temperature homogenization and model intercomparison exercises, as before with the lunar soils, were manly governmental and academic. They too, out of ignorance, were found out to be inflating their self-assessed prowess.

    Sadly, one gets no marks for pointing out these lessons from history. But, the Devil is often in the detail.
    Geoff S

    • I lived for a year in Huntsville. The year I was there, my youngest son was a student at UAH. I’ve walked by the building Dr. Spencer works in. I’ve been to the Marshall Space Flight Center and visited its museum. There is, or was, a spare Saturn V rocket at the welcome center just inside the TN-AL state line. And yes, this old grey-beard grand-dad remembers 1969 very well. The Moon landings in July and Camille in August.

  15. Thank you Mr. Middleton.

    My uncle was a collector of rarities and an unquestioningly firm believer in the law of supply and demand. He believed that Apollo moon rocks were comparable to artifacts from Cristofor Colon’s (a/k/a Christopher Columbus) voyage that revealed the Americas to Europeans. As a result, convinced that moon rocks were valuable and would maintain their inflation-adjusted value in perpetuity, he bought some.

    • Aw, come on John, Columbus like many N. European seamen knew that something was there to the west, he had talked to Scandinavian shipmasters all of whom knew the story of Leif Ericson.

    • ‘Gesundheit‘ would be a bit more correct, as is conversely the German name ‘Langenschheidt‘.

  16. As one of those minor contributors to the early space program there is, or at least should be, no doubt it actually happened. My contribution was to track those missions from Earth orbit insertion to Earth re-entry all the way to splash down.

    For us it’s really, really hard to explain away those signals emanating from those vehicles, both in orbiting the moon and on their travels to and from. Consider receiving signals simultaneously from the orbiting Lunar Command/Service module and the stationary Luna Lander, then correctly, positionally and temporally seeing the Lunar Command/Service module appear and disappear.

    Faking that is almost impossible for all the tracking stations around the world, both on land and sea. The favorite denier explanation is a secret satellite that mimicked those signals. Nope! Also impossible for all the amateur radio and astrologers out there would have detected the SECRET satellite.

    BTW, I have medallion struck from a couple of small components of the lander and (IIRC) the Command/Service modules and a large vat of earthly aluminum. 🙂 Something I treasure.

    • I recently looked at the math of the launch window and trans lunar insertion… I still have a headache!

      As cool as the astronauts were… The real “steely eyed missile men” were the men and women on the ground.

  17. Those people who question the moon landing only do so through utter ignorance. One really has to start with the Mercury project, then follow the Gemini project and then the Apollo project to appreciate the reality of the space program. When one studies the Apollo project, and what was achieved, the sheer volume of NASA evidence will leave any ‘dumbo’ in no doubt that Apollo 11 did land on the moon, and Armstrong and Aldrin did walk on the moon’s surface.

  18. The evidence that the lunar landings were real is so massively conclusive that presenting more evidence is not going to change anyone’s minds. There’s no real debate. There are only some pathological beliefs that are resistant to any and all arguments.

    Still, an interesting article.

  19. Great article, David. I loved the personal history part.

    As for this:

    “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

    Shouldn’t that be “one small step for [a] man”? I know there is some confusion about which phrase he used, but I have to think he did use [a], otherwise he is being redundant because without the [a], the “man” part is just shorthand for mankind.

  20. David, I just recently got more interested in geology as a result of becoming a rock hound. I truly enjoy the articles on WUWT you author and want to thank you for helping to add to my basic knowledge of geology.

    • The funny thing is that I wasn’t a rock hound before deciding to major in geology in college. I’m still not much of a rock hound… I’m more of a structural geology and stratigraphy “hound.” I like to unravel how the rock formations got where they are.

      I never wanted to teach geology… But whenever I watch that From the Earth to the Moon episode… I start thinking that teaching field geology just might be fun.

      • David,
        Speaking of which, In July 1969 I was taking my requisite Summer field mapping course in the San Gabriel Montains. The instructor gave us a day off and invited us to his house to watch the landing on his small screen TV.

        • That is so cool. It could have only been topped by running into Lee Silver, Dave Scott, Jim Irwin, Jack Schmitt and Dick Gordon on their field trip to the San Gabriel Mountains.

          I was only 9 and watched the grainy video at my parents’ house in Connecticut.

          • David,
            Should our paths ever cross, I can share some interesting stories about my Summer field mapping, involving dynamite, rattlesnakes, and my friend’s ’39 Packard that pulled the field assistant’s jeep out of mud in a not-so-dry lake bed in the Owen’s Valley.

          • Lots of good outcrops of San Gabriel anorthosite in the road cuts along Angeles Forest Hwy. It would be interesting to know where they made their field trip stops. Did you find the field trip guides in the materials you researched?

          • I didn’t even think to look for it. There probably were field guides… NASA had procedure books for everything, worse than offshore drilling engineers. I’ll do some more digging.

            It would also be cool to see the astronauts’ field notes… Particularly their early efforts.

  21. The formula for a successful hoax is comprised of relatively view variables: a strong motive to deceive, the number of people who know the truth and a strong incentive for all of them to keep the truth hidden. It also helps if the punishment for being caught is not much greater than the punishment of letting the truth come out in the very beginning. Magic tricks are often successful hoaxes because very few people know the truth, they have a strong incentive to not divulge that information and the livelihood of the magician is dependent on the successful execution of the hoax. There is also a desire to keep it as simple as possible. The more moving parts there are, the more difficult it is to pull off the hoax.

    There are many incidents in my lifetime that I believe to be complete or partial cover-ups: The death of Marilyn Monroe, the death of Vince Foster, the downing of TWA-800 (the most obvious), aspects of 9/11 and most recently the death of Jeffrey Epstein. Most of these required very few people to execute the hoax, the motive is readily apparent and the incentive to keep it secret is very high. Furthermore, the cost of being discovered is often less than the ramifications of the truth coming out immediately.

    The Apollo Moon Landings don’t have any of the variables of a successful hoax. The motive to perpetrate such a hoax is pretty weak and the number of people who would know the truth is in the tens of thousands.
    For most of the alleged co-conspirators, their incentive to lie about it is almost nonexistent. Finally, the ramifications of having the hoax exposed would be huge. It simply doesn’t add up that we would even try to fake the moon landings. Faking it would be harder than actually doing it.

    • The formula for a successful hoax is comprised of relatively view variables: a strong motive to deceive, the number of people who know the truth and a strong incentive for all of them to keep the truth hidden. It also helps if the punishment for being caught is not much greater than the punishment of letting the truth come out in the very beginning.

      The funniest thing is that the only motive for faking a Moon landing was to appear to “beat the Russians”… Since they were neck-and-neck with us in space operations, they probably could have exposed the hoax… They not only didn’t expose it, they would have had to have been active participants.

      U.S. AND RUSSIANS REACH MOON PACT
      By Bernard Gwertzman
      Jan. 22, 1971

      MOSCOW, Jan. 21—The United States and the Soviet Union agreed today to exchange moon samples as part of a wide‐ranging accord on increasing space cooperation between the two countries.

      A document signed by George W. Low, acting administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Mstislav V. Keldysh, president of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, appeared to open the way to a significant expansion of joint Soviet‐American space efforts.

      […]

      Mr. Low said the initial exchange of moon samples would be on a quite modest scale, presumably because the Soviet Union’s unmanned Luna 16 vehicle brought back only about three ounces worth of lunar soil on its trip last September. The American astronauts from Apollo 11 and 12 brought back a total of 122.6 pounds in 1969.

      Mr. Low said the exchange would probably be about three grams on each side—about one tenth of an ounce.

      […]

      NY Times

      This was published in 1982, during the Cold War…

      V. L. Barsukov, M. A. Nazarav & L. S. Tarasov (1982) Moon rock mineralogy, International Geology Review, 24:2, 238-248, DOI: 10.1080/00206818209452398

      Barsukov was a Soviet geologist.

    • I think the number of participants was closer to 300K. Yet not one book from us describing the hoax.
      All the fury is from those who knew/know very little about the science and engineering.

  22. My older brother took me to find the gem labradorite in a little volcanic knob near Hinckley, UT, USA. One of the few places in the western US where this mineral is found. We did not see any iridescence, just a small yellow crystal.

    • Loren
      I have collected the yellow phenocrysts weathering out of the basalts near Delta (UT). Because they lack the labradorescence, it would inappropriate to call them labradorite. They are clearly a calcium-rich end-member of the albite-anorthite series, but I’m not sure they are even anorthite — probably closer to bytownite.

      https://www.mindat.org/min-815.html

    • Head up to SE Oregon to the “Spectrum Sunstone Mine, located near Plush, OR, in Lake County Oregon”.
      These stones frequently have copper inclusions in the schiller.

      Keep in mind that gem, rock and mineral books have sent rockhounds to the sunstone knoll outside Hinckley UT for quite a few decades. Surface stones have been picked over repeatedly.

      The basalt eruptions which provided the feldspar crystals for Sunstone Knoll are found in many areas from Oregon through Utah. Especially near Plush, Oregon.

      Not too far from Hinckley is Topaz Mountain outside of Nephi, UT. Unlike the sunstone knoll, people have been dropping small topazes for generations and it is easy to find in drainage soils.

      Keep in mind that moonstone, labradorite, sunstone, etc. are dependent upon the angle of the lighting and the angle the stone is viewed. Unless you have both correct, the schiller isn’t visible.

      • Dave, I just read your great post on Upheaval Dome. An interesting side: I missed it because I was visiting Patrick Geesaman’s father, who studied geology with me at NAU in Flagstaff. ( I worked with Shoemaker on the paleomagnetics portion of my MS) His father is of my best friends, and a great Canyonlands geologist, but he never mentioned Patrick’s work. Rather refreshing to see a modest Dad!

        • That was a fun post to research and write. It’s been on my “to do” list since we made our last trip out there in 2007. I don’t know Patrick… But any geologist who “one-ups” Gene Shoemaker and Martin Jackson at the same time is pretty amazing.

  23. David Middleton

    Thank you very much for this well-researched, very informative article.

    Rgds
    J.-P. D.

  24. This is slightly OT but if you set up an array of neutrino detectors (liquid tanks with photomultipliers) on the moon, you could use the large flux of neutrinos from the sun to perform neutrino absorption tomography on the earth.

    This would give unparalleled 3d internal structure of the earth. However the signal to noise requirements for tomography are quite high and the scan time would be measured in years, possibly centuries.

  25. I actually got to hold a moon rock in my hand when in grad studies at UBC in the mid-70’s; my thesis advisor was the late R. L. (Dick) Armstrong, quite the renowned geochronologist (my thesis required a lot of Rb/Sr dating which I did myself, even re-built part of the mass spec that didn’t function particularly well the way it was designed) and he was sent one. We were not allowed to ‘take it apart’ as it was doing rounds of many institutions, but did get to examine it for a few days.

    It was small (a few cc’s) and very dark, almost black. I have certainly seen a lot of rock like it on earth, but those I could take apart. I was always disappointed that we couldn’t with that one. But I can still say I held one.–hey, my DNA should/might be on it!

  26. Thank you very much Dr. David Middleton: a most enjoyable & informative post. 🙂
    Thanks also for some top comments also, guys.

    However, in his book, Our Occulted History, Do The Global Elite Conceal Ancient Aliens? respected journalist Jim Marrs (RIP) says that, from memory, Lunar rocks have been dated to ~ 5.3 billion years, with the soil in which they sit dated to ~6.3 billion years. His hypothesis is that our Moon has an outer rock/soil skin of radiation reflecting materials covering an inner tougher skin enclosing a largely hollow Moon, having a specific gravity of 3.3 compared to Earth’s 5.5 gms/cucm.
    Other anomolies claimed are that there exist concentrations of mass (mascons) beneath the mares, that the Moon’s centre of gravity lies one mile closer to Earth than its geometric centre.
    All this, & much more tends to lend credence to the 1970 essay published in the respected Soviet journal Sputnik by Vasin & Sherbakov: Is The Moon A Creation Of Alien Intelligence

    Any thoughts, especially on the ages of Moon rocks & soil?

    Thanks again.
    JD.

    • Dr Middleton? I have a real job… 😎

      Faked Moon landings are far more plausible than bad science fiction.

      The oldest Moon rocks are about 4.5 billion years old. The Moon has a lower density than Earth because it has a very small, lower density, metallic core relative to Earth. This is what would be expected in the collision hypothesis.

  27. Regards the video pictures I must say I’ve long been disappointed to see no evidence of a starburst pattern in the very fine soil caused by the Moon Landers’ braking rockets, & never any mention of this.

    Or am I missing something?

    Thanks again.
    JD.

  28. My first field vehicle was a 1962 pale green Nissan Patrol 4WD with a simple petrol straight 6 of around 3 litres. Its drawback was an absence of jacking points on the body, so getting out of a bog was hard. We were among the first (I think) to use long-lift kangaroo jacks to keep the body rising faster than the bumpers deformed.
    Ah, memory lane. Geoff S

  29. David Middleton: Did you know there is an asteroid, Psyche 13, that is ~225km in diameter and almost solid Nickel-Iron, but also full of gold and platinum? The Moon rocks are interesting, but won’t make us rich beyond our wildest imaginations. We could build Gerard K. O’Neill-style luxury habitat for trillions of people with Psyche 13 and a few of the more common rocky asteroids.

    • The Moon rocks are interesting, but won’t make us rich beyond our wildest imaginations.

      Neither will flooding the planet with an element whose worth depends solely on its rarity.

    • In mining, like oil & gas drilling, the very simplified equation has two terms…

      Resource Value – Finding & Development Cost = Profit (Loss)

      Being a massive iron-nickel asteroid, 16 Psyche probably has a large assortment of PGM’s… But the cost of mining it would be pretty close to infinite.

  30. Zero point zero…

    The very bitch there, in attempting enforcement, regardless of validity of rationale, logic or methodology
    of logic.
    The ‘witch stew”.

    Good to know that this happens to be a universal conditioning, with no any special ties or creed favoritism orientation.
    With an all wide projection… and an all wide implication and engulfment, for all,
    with an allover subjection over the whole with no any discrimination,
    an all influencing bug… for the whole concerned and involved in accordance, regardless of the creed or religion, or cult…

    All the same recipe subjecting and objecting the whole in the same and equal projection, regardless…
    The universal EQUALITY of opportunity… Where truly no one is more equal than the other… but still some still see it as otherwise.

    “How do you dare to question the unquestionable”,
    “You pesky ones have no idea of the whole heavy barrage you gona face if you do.”
    “Your mind will spin so fast, that you too got to accept your false developed thoughts as valid after all that “heavy fire”.

    You see, your eyes do not lie to you, your mind does not lie to you either, but your own thoughts may and could and would… if enough force applied continually over and over towards that given objective.
    Where the cumulative “mind” of the whole is only a summary aggregate of the whole thoughts there,
    not actually possessing eyes or any proper neural network, where therefor the validity of it depends on the validity of the thoughts flying around.

    Again, your eyes and your mind does not lie to you… and some times that becomes disturbing or even very very disturbing when your thoughts and perception through such thoughts happens to be false…
    The degree of such disturbance creates a non resolvable condition, at least until an unbiased approach considered… regardless of the end result or its consideration.
    Further attempts, simply based on further authoritative and orthodox pollution, riddled with more ambiguous and “grey” or smoky explanatory interpretation, do not make it any better or any easier.

    These rocks have being seating there for half a century now, where were we for all this time!
    Watching the video images and photos, perhaps, again and again!

    Zero point zero…

    cheers

    • Too fracking funny
      THX1138, 6/1/2019…

      There is no such thing as a neutron star. Think about it, a free neutron can only last about a little less than 15 minutes. And no, the neutron star is theorized to spin as fast as a dentist’s drill. Speaking of dentists, astronomers think that x-rays can be created by gravity. So, why doesn’t your dentist check your teeth by dropping a hammer nearby? Because x-rays are created by electricity, not gravity. Gravity’s force is weaker than Electrical force by a billion, billion, billion billion times. 10^39 times weaker.

      Today’s scientists are science fiction writers. There is no dark matter, no dark energy, no black holes. All fiction. There are perfectly sane explanations in an Electric Universe for all the things these concepts were invented to solve.

      This out-crackpots the Apollo hoax crackpot conspiracy theory videos.

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