Questions for ‘Welcome to moon rock central’


Science News astronomy reporter Lisa Grossman visits the pristine-sample lab at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. The display case holds rocks collected by the Apollo 15 and 16 missions. The 1.5-kilogram (3.3-pound) chunk of volcanic basalt in the center is 3.4 billion years old.

Felix Sanchez

To accompany feature “Welcome to moon rock central” 


Before Reading

1.  Where are the moon rocks that astronauts brought back from the Apollo missions stored?

2.  Why are they considered “priceless”?

During Reading:

1.  Who gets to handle NASA’s moon rocks? And what does “handle” even mean?

2.  Name three types of procedures NASA uses to ensure that moon rocks don’t become contaminated while they are in storage.

3.  By weight, how much rock and dust did astronauts bring back from the moon?

4.  How many people or labs, in how many countries, have gotten access to samples of NASA’s moon rocks?

5.  How did NASA researchers test to see whether moon rock and dust might be hazardous to Earthlings?

6.  What are anorthosites, who found them and when?

7.  How do anorthosites figure into lunar scientists’ understanding of a lunar magma ocean?

8.  Scientists used to think the moon was bone dry. No more. How wet do they now think it might be?

9.  Why does the article argue that “curation” of lunar samples is a big deal?

10.  What special precautions does NASA take when it sends samples of moon rocks to other labs?

After Reading

1.  Explain what the moon means to you as a source of data and inspiration for understanding our universe.

2.  Write a poem about moon rocks and/or dust based on things you learned in this article. Use it to briefly describe at least three research topics that these otherworldly samples have allowed scientists to explore.