Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Moon-walk mineral discovered in Western Australia

Date:
January 17, 2012
Source:
University of Western Australia
Summary:
The last mineral thought to have been unique to the Moon has been discovered in the remote Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Astronaut walks on the surface of the moon. Tranquillityite, a mineral named after the Sea of Tranquillity where the Apollo 11 moon-walkers landed in July 1969, was tentatively identified by Professor Birger Rasmussen from Curtin University while studying a polished slice of Earthly rock in a scanning electron microscope.
Credit: NASA

The last mineral thought to have been unique to the Moon has been discovered in the remote Pilbara region of Western Australia. It was identified by researchers at The University of Western Australia's Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis (CMCA).

Related Articles


Tranquillityite, named after the Sea of Tranquillity* where the Apollo 11 moon-walkers landed in July 1969, was tentatively identified by Professor Birger Rasmussen from Curtin University while studying a polished slice of earthly rock in a scanning electron microscope.

When lunar rocks were first analysed in the 1970s after having been brought to Earth by US astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin and Michael Collins, scientists identified three minerals -- armalcolite (after Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins), pyroxferroite and tranquillityite -- that they believed were unique to the Moon.

Armalcolite and pyroxferroite were later found on Earth, but when the CMCA's Dr Janet Muhling and Assistant Professor Alexandra Suvorova and their colleagues from Curtin University, published a recent paper in the journal Geology, they showed for the first time that tranquillityite occurred also on Earth.

To confirm the identity of the Pilbara mineral, Dr Muhling analysed its composition by collecting X-rays emitted when the sample was targeted by an electron beam in the electron microscope. This showed that the terrestrial mineral was made up of the same elements as lunar tranquillityite. Electron diffraction showed that the two minerals have the same crystal structure.

Previously, tranquillityite was thought to exist only in returned moon samples and lunar -- and possibly Martian -- meteorites.

The researchers believe tranquilliltyite is the final 'lunar' mineral to be found on Earth because it is rare, small and prone to change. The Moon lacks water and its minerals are pristine, but even a small amount of water in terrestrial magmas will cause minerals to be altered and difficult to identify.

Tranquillityite, both lunar and terrestrial, is an ideal mineral for determining the age of the enclosing rock by radiometric dating. The Pilbara rocks in which tranquillityite occurs were once thought to have been about 820 million years old but new dating by Professor Rasmussen and colleagues at the John de Laeter Centre for Isotope Research has shown that they are about 1040 million years old.

*The so-called sea is actually a giant impact crater that appears dark because it is filled with dark basaltic rocks. It was first named by Italian astronomer Giambattista Riccioli in 1651.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Western Australia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. B. Rasmussen, I. R. Fletcher, C. J. Gregory, J. R. Muhling, A. A. Suvorova. Tranquillityite: The last lunar mineral comes down to Earth. Geology, 2011; 40 (1): 83 DOI: 10.1130/G32525.1

Cite This Page:

University of Western Australia. "Moon-walk mineral discovered in Western Australia." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120115223636.htm>.
University of Western Australia. (2012, January 17). Moon-walk mineral discovered in Western Australia. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120115223636.htm
University of Western Australia. "Moon-walk mineral discovered in Western Australia." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120115223636.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

China Prepares Unmanned Mission To Lunar Orbit

China Prepares Unmanned Mission To Lunar Orbit

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) — The mission is China's next step toward automated sample-return missions and eventual manned missions to the moon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 22, 2014) — Russian cosmonauts Maxim Suraev and Alexander Samokutyaev step outside the International Space Station to perform work on the exterior of the station's Russian module. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) — A comet from the farthest reaches of the solar system passed extremely close to Mars this weekend, giving astronomers a rare opportunity to study it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

AFP (Oct. 17, 2014) — Argentina launches a home-built satellite, a first for Latin America. It will ride a French-made Ariane 5 rocket into orbit, and will provide cell phone, digital TV, Internet and data services to the lower half of South America. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins