Why Apollo's moon rocks still matter

Moon rocks brought back by the Apollo missions have fueled scientific discoveries for 50 years — but there’s still more to learn, says University of Florida astrogeologist Steve Elardo.

Elardo looks at samples collected on the Apollo missions to learn about not only the moon, but the early solar system.

“After over a decade of doing it, I still get excited on the mornings I get to go the lab and take an Apollo sample out of the safe,” Elardo says.  

The six Apollo moon landings collected more than 800 pounds of rocks, but they only represent a few areas of the moon’s surface. Elardo is part of a team that recently submitted a mission proposal to NASA to collect samples from the moon's youngest lava flow, which would be billions of years younger than the Apollo samples. (He has competition: His wife, UF geology professor Amy Williams, is part of a team that submitted a mission proposal to investigate the asteroid Ceres.)

"Apollo was wonderful and changed everything about planetary science," he says, but "we need more samples from the moon. We're not at the end yet." 

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Alisson Clark July 18, 2019