Moon and meteorite samples at SIUC

By Gus Bode

Moon rocks and meteorite samples obtained through NASA loan

Factoid:The public can view the specimens from 4 to 6 today at Parkinson Laboratory, Room 101F.

People who still believe the moon is made of cheese will be proven wrong during an exhibit sponsored by the SIUC Geology Department.


Moon rocks and meteorite samples are coming to SIUC this week to educate students enrolled in a course about planets taught by Dhananjay Ravat, an associate professor of geology. Ravat said he realized the public should also have the chance to view the rock samples, so he scheduled a public viewing today in Parkinson Laboratory.

I thought that since this is a rare opportunity, I would make it available for people to view, Ravat said.

The rocks are embedded in disks and magnified for better viewing, and are on loan from NASA. Ravat said people who handle the disks have to be trained and certified before handling the specimens, which he was trained to do while researching with NASA.

The rocks appear similar to rocks on Earth, but differ in mineral composition, Ravat said. Moon rocks have no trace of water molecules.

The moon rocks’ ages are estimated at 3.2 to 3.9 billion years, and about 400 kilograms of rock samples were brought back by astronauts during Apollo missions. Ravat said NASA has recently been considering the possibility of making another trip to the moon.

The meteorite samples come from several different meteorites, according to Ravat. A sample of the Allende meteorite, which fell in Mexico in 1969, will be part of the exhibit.

With the rarity of specimens from a distant part of the solar system, there comes a high amount of precautions.


They have really high security, Ravat said. They are serious about this because there are so few moon rocks.

Richard Fifarek, an associate professor of geology, said the moon rocks from NASA have the potential to increase people’s curiosity about the geological world.

These [rocks] are very limited, he said. It’s a useful project and sparks interest in geology.

Reporter Ben Botkin can be reached at [email protected]