The Lunar Landscape

For more examples, see my article: Yet it’s a vacuum there. The thing is that of course it was a sunny day for the astronauts – you tend to forget when you see the black sky. On Earth some of the light comes to the landscape from the sun and some reaches us indirectly from the blue sky and the clouds. On the Moon, much of the light comes from the sun, but a lot of light also comes indirectly from the landscape itself. That’s why you can see detail in the shadows, and why they aren’t completely black on the Moon. So – it’s not quite so surprising as you’d think, but fun. You can make the photos look even more like Earth by reducing the contrast – shadows are not quite so contrasty on Earth.

Canon (Schweiz) AG

Methods of Dating the Age of Meteorites Meteorites are among the oldest objects we know about – formed about 4. But how do scientists know this? This article describes the principles and methods used to make that determination. There are well-known methods of finding the ages of some natural objects. Trees undergo spurts in growth in the spring and summer months while becoming somewhat dormant in the fall and winter months.

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Slowly and painstakingly, geologists have assembled this record into the generalized geologic time scale shown in Figure 1. This was done by observing the relative age sequence of rock units in a given area and determining, from stratigraphic relations, which rock units are younger, which are older, and what assemblages of fossils are contained in each unit. Using fossils to correlate from area to area, geologists have been able to work out a relative worldwide order of rock formations and to divide the rock record and geologic time into the eras, periods, and epochs shown in Figure 1.

The last modification to the geologic time scale of Figure 1 was in the s, before radiometric dating was fully developed, when the Oligocene Epoch was inserted between the Eocene and the Miocene. Although early stratigraphers could determine the relative order of rock units and fossils, they could only estimate the lengths of time involved by observing the rates of present geologic processes and comparing the rocks produced by those processes with those preserved in the stratigraphic record.

With the development of modern radiometric dating methods in the late s and s, it was possible for the first time not only to measure the lengths of the eras, periods, and epochs but also to check the relative order of these geologic time units.

Clocks in the Rocks

Ancient rift valleys — closeup artist’s concept Impacts by meteorites and comets are the only abrupt geologic force acting on the Moon today, though the variation of Earth tides on the scale of the Lunar anomalistic month causes small variations in stresses. For example, the crater Copernicus , which has a depth of 3. The Apollo 17 mission landed in an area in which the material coming from the crater Tycho might have been sampled.

radioactive dating of lunar rocks brought back by the Apollo Moon missions. From this we know that the solar system was formed approximately billion years ago with a period of heavy bombardment by planetesimals (debris from the formation of the planets).

Radioactive decay[ edit ] Example of a radioactive decay chain from lead Pb to lead Pb. The final decay product, lead Pb , is stable and can no longer undergo spontaneous radioactive decay. All ordinary matter is made up of combinations of chemical elements , each with its own atomic number , indicating the number of protons in the atomic nucleus. Additionally, elements may exist in different isotopes , with each isotope of an element differing in the number of neutrons in the nucleus.

A particular isotope of a particular element is called a nuclide. Some nuclides are inherently unstable. That is, at some point in time, an atom of such a nuclide will undergo radioactive decay and spontaneously transform into a different nuclide. This transformation may be accomplished in a number of different ways, including alpha decay emission of alpha particles and beta decay electron emission, positron emission, or electron capture.

Another possibility is spontaneous fission into two or more nuclides. While the moment in time at which a particular nucleus decays is unpredictable, a collection of atoms of a radioactive nuclide decays exponentially at a rate described by a parameter known as the half-life , usually given in units of years when discussing dating techniques.

WIFE EATING CUM

Primary igneous rocks in the lunar highlands compose three distinct groups: Lunar breccias, formed largely by the immense basin-forming impacts, are dominantly composed of highland lithologies because most mare basalts post-date basin formation and largely fill these impact basins. The ferroan anorthosite suite is the most common group in the highlands, and is inferred to represent plagioclase flotation cumulates of the lunar magma ocean, with interstitial mafic phases formed from trapped interstitial melt or rafted upwards with the more abundant plagioclase framework.

Earth sciences – Radiometric dating: In , shortly after the discovery of radioactivity, the American chemist Bertram Boltwood suggested that lead is one of the disintegration products of uranium, in which case the older a uranium-bearing mineral the greater should be its proportional part of lead. Analyzing specimens whose relative geologic ages were known, Boltwood found that the ratio of.

Lunar breccias, formed largely by the immense basin-forming impacts, are dominantly composed of highland lithologies because most mare basalts post-date basin formation and largely fill these impact basins. The ferroan anorthosite suite is the most common group in the highlands, and is inferred to represent plagioclase flotation cumulates of the lunar magma ocean, with interstitial mafic phases formed from trapped interstitial melt or rafted upwards with the more abundant plagioclase framework.

This reflects the extreme depletion of the bulk moon in alkalis Na, K as well as water and other volatile elements. Ferroan anorthosites have been dated using the internal isochron method at “circa” 4. These rocks represent later intrusions into the highlands crust ferroan anorthosite at round 4. An interesting aspect of this suite is that analysis of the trace element content of plagioclase and pyroxene require equilibrium with a KREEP -rich magma, despite the refractory major element contents.

The alkali suite is so-called because of its high alkali content—for moon rocks. The alkali suite consists of alkali anorthosites with relatively sodic plagioclase An , norites plagioclase-orthopyroxene , and gabbronorites plagioclase-clinopyroxene-orthopyroxene with similar plagioclase compositions and mafic minerals more iron-rich than the magnesian suite.

The alkali suite spans an age range similar to the magnesian suite.

Sydney stargazers preparing for partial lunar eclipse

The object’s approximate age can then be figured out using the known rate of decay of the isotope. The author of the present site is an experienced educator and research scientist, who has been fortunate enough to be involved in initial and ongoing studies of many Martian meteorites and who has benefited from the input of many generous colleagues, not all of whom are necessarily Martian afficionados. Ted Bunch, who not only has been a valued collaborator in our joint research on Martian meteorites, but who generously provided many of the thin section photomicrographs on the linked individual pages for Martian specimens to be added soon.

Meteorites are objects composed of rock and sometimes metal which are derived from various solar system bodies, and after traveling through space land on the surfaces of other solar system bodies notably Earth, but also the Moon and Mars, and no doubt other worlds. Prior to the best and most accepted age of the Earth was that proposed by Lord Kelvin based on the amount of time necessary for the Earth to cool to its present temperature from a completely liquid state.

Nevertheless, the study of the K-T extinction and its association with one of the largest impact structures known on Earth led to renewed and widespread interest in impacts.

Some of the moon’s crystalline rocks are ancient, dating back perhaps to the formation of the solar system. Lacking oxygen and water, lunar rock is well preserved and can be used to study what.

Radiometric dating In , shortly after the discovery of radioactivity , the American chemist Bertram Boltwood suggested that lead is one of the disintegration products of uranium, in which case the older a uranium-bearing mineral the greater should be its proportional part of lead. Analyzing specimens whose relative geologic ages were known, Boltwood found that the ratio of lead to uranium did indeed increase with age.

After estimating the rate of this radioactive change, he calculated that the absolute ages of his specimens ranged from million to 2. Though his figures were too high by about 20 percent, their order of magnitude was enough to dispose of the short scale of geologic time proposed by Lord Kelvin. Versions of the modern mass spectrometer were invented in the early s and s, and during World War II the device was improved substantially to help in the development of the atomic bomb.

Soon after the war, Harold C. Wasserburg applied the mass spectrometer to the study of geochronology. This device separates the different isotopes of the same element and can measure the variations in these isotopic abundances to within one part in 10, By determining the amount of the parent and daughter isotopes present in a sample and by knowing their rate of radioactive decay each radioisotope has its own decay constant , the isotopic age of the sample can be calculated.

Mechanical Weathering

Which age is correct? Sample was dated by five different sources with nineteen different results. Here is how one of those sources tried to spin the results.

The scientists conducted uranium-lead dating on fragments of the mineral zircon extracted from Apollo 14 lunar samples. The pieces of zircon were minuscule—no bigger than a grain of sand.

Search Share Rare beauty. Tiny bits of tranquillityite red mass, close-up at right , a rare mineral previously known only from moon rocks and lunar meteorites, have now been found in rocks from several sites in Western Australia and may be much more com Adapted from B. Researchers discovered the substance—dubbed tranquillityite after the Sea of Tranquility, where Apollo 11 astronauts landed on the Moon in July — at six sites in Western Australia.

The mineral occurs only in minuscule amounts and has no economic value, but scientists say it could be used for age-dating the rocks in which it occurs. Soon after the first Apollo astronauts returned from the moon, scientists analyzed samples of igneous rocks they had collected, known as basalts. The rocks contained three previously unknown minerals, two of which—armalcolite and pyroxferroite—were found on Earth within a decade or so.

But for the past 40 years, the third mineral, tranquillityite, hasn’t been seen anywhere but in moon rocks and in meteorites blasted from the lunar surface by massive impacts.

Lunar Rock from Apollo 15 Astronauts on Moon