107. Moon Rocks (1969)

Moon Rocks 1
Moon Rocks 2

In 1966, NASA invited scientific groups around the world to submit proposals to study lunar material that was to be collected by the first manned lunar mission. The Geological Survey of Canada submitted several proposals involving mineralogy, magnetic properties, electrical conductivity, geochronology, and chemical composition. Competition was fierce, but all of the Survey’s proposals were accepted.

There was then a long wait. The Apollo 11 mission in July 1969 was a success, but NASA had to complete a preliminary examination of the lunar samples before releasing them. The Survey’s allotment, which included rock fragments, soil, and polished thin sections, arrived in Ottawa on October 7.

The Survey put the “moon rocks” on display the two following weekends, and public interest was such that long line-ups snaked their way into the Survey’s headquarters at 601 Booth Street. Dignitaries, including Prince Philip, were given an advance viewing.

The analytical work then began in earnest. The Survey presented its report at the Apollo 11 Lunar Science Conference in Houston, January 5-8, 1970. It also contributed data to joint papers with other groups that described two new minerals, notably tranquillityite, which was named after the Sea of Tranquillity, Apollo 11’s landing site.


Category: Rocks, Fossils, Minerals and Meteorites

Decade: 1960s


Science, 1970, v. 167, p. 447–784.

Proceedings of the Apollo 11 Lunar Science Conference, 1970; Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 34, suppl. 1.

GSC 175 - CGC 175