Moon rocks from the 70s unsealed, studied

Professor Darby Dyar at the x-ray microprobe instrument at beamline 13 IDE, Advanced Photon Source, Argonne National Laboratory, where she will study pristine lunar material. Photo credit: Molly McCanta

NASA has selected Mount Holyoke College to continue the science legacy of the Apollo missions by studying pieces of the moon that have been sealed and untouched for nearly 50 years.

Mount Holyoke College is one of nine teams that were selected nationwide, and a total of $8 million has been awarded for the studies.

Darby Dyar, the Kennedy-Schelkunoff Professor of Astronomy and chair of the astronomy department, will lead a team to look at samples from Apollo missions 15, 16 and 17 in order to study volcanic activity on the moon. They’ll specifically look at tiny glass beads that formed rapidly during an ancient lunar eruption.

Dyar, who first studied lunar samples in 1979 as an undergraduate, believes the glass beads provide a window into the interior of the moon and could answer fundamental questions about how the moon evolved.

The teams for the Apollo Next Generation Sample Analysis grants were selected by NASA’s Planetary Science Division and will be funded by its Lunar Discovery and Exploration Program.

Read The New York Times story.