Preliminary Examination of Lunar Samples from Apollo 14

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Science  20 Aug 1971:
Vol. 173, Issue 3998, pp. 681-693
DOI: 10.1126/science.173.3998.681


The major findings of the preliminary examination of the lunar samples are as follows:

1) The samples from Fra Mauro base may be contrasted with those from Tranquillity base and the Ocean of Storms in that about half the Apollo 11 samples consist of basaltic rocks, and all but three Apollo 12 rocks are basaltic, whereas in the Apollo 14 samples only two rocks of the 33 rocks over 50 grams have basaltic textures. The samples from Fra Mauro base consist largely of fragmental rocks containing clasts of diverse lithologies and histories. Generally the rocks differ modally from earlier lunar samples in that they contain more plagioclase and contain orthopyroxene.

2) The Apollo 14 samples differ chemically from earlier lunar rocks and from their closest meteorite and terrestrial analogs. The lunar material closest in composition is the KREEP component (potassium, rare earth elements, phosphorus), "norite," "mottled gray fragments" (9) from the soil samples (in particular, sample 12033) from the Apollo 12 site, and the dark portion of rock 12013 (10). The Apollo 14 material is richer in titanium, iron, magnesium, and silicon than the Surveyor 7 material, the only lunar highlands material directly analyzed (11). The rocks also differ from the mare basalts, having much lower contents of iron, titanium, manganese, chromium, and scandium and higher contents of silicon, aluminum, zirconium, potassium, uranium, thorium, barium, rubidium, sodium, niobium, lithium, and lanthanum. The ratios of potassium to uranium are lower than those of terrestrial rocks and similar to those of earlier lunar samples.

3) The chemical composition of the soil closely resembles that of the fragmental rocks and the large basaltic rock (sample 14310) except that some elements (potassium, lanthanum, ytterbium, and barium) may be somewhat depleted in the soil with respect to the average rock composition.

4) Rocks display characteristic surface features of lunar material (impact microcraters, rounding) and shock effects similar to those observed in rocks and soil from the Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 missions. The rocks show no evidence of exposure to water, and their content of metallic iron suggests that they, like the Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 material, were formed and have remained in an environment with low oxygen activity.

5) The concentration of solar windimplanted material in the soil is large, as was the case for Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 soil. However, unlike previous fragmental rocks, Apollo 14 fragmental rocks possess solar wind contents ranging from approximately that of the soil to essentially zero, with most rocks investigated falling toward one extreme of this range. A positive correlation appears to exist between the solar wind components, carbon, and 20Ne, of fragmental rocks and their friability (Fig. 12).

6) Carbon contents lie within the range of carbon contents for Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 samples.

7) Four fragmental rocks show surface exposure times (10 x 106 to 20 x 106 years) about an order of magnitude less than typical exposure times of Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 rocks.

8) A much broader range of soil mechanics properties was encountered at the Apollo 14 site than has been observed at the Apollo 11, Apollo 12, and Surveyor landing sites. At different points along the traverses of the Apollo 14 mission, lesser cohesion, coarser grain size, and greater resistance to penetration was found than at the Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 sites. These variations are indicative of a very complex, heterogeneous deposit. The soils are more poorly sorted, but the range of grain size is similar to those of the Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 soils.

9) No evidence of biological material has been found in the samples to date.