Moon Rocks Still Giving Up Gritty Secrets

Lunar rocks have helped unlock secrets of solar system, demise of dinosaurs
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2008 6:00 AM CDT
The dark areas on the moon are newer deposits of basalt, while the light highlands are an older anorthosite. Determining the rocks' ages chemically was a key aid in dating the solar system.   ((c) ohgloryyyyyy(:)
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(Newser) – Almost 40 years after Apollo astronauts brought samples of the moon back to Earth, the extraterrestrial rocks are still yielding new information, the New York Times reports. In addition to attention from the Johnson Space Center, where they reside, samples are mailed out—on loan only, and usually less than a gram—to 40 or 50 research groups around the world each year.

Comparing the ages of rocks with the cratering on the surface they came from has resulted in a yardstick of sorts for dating bodies in the solar system—and the chemistry of some samples helped lead to the impact theory of dinosaur extinction. Other research looks to the future: how to extract oxygen from lunar dust and use microwaves to build roads on the moon.