3.6 Moon rocks

The 382 kilograms (842 pounds) of handpicked samples of Moon rock brought back by the six crewed landings are often mentioned as evidence that astronauts walked on the Moon. The nonterrestrial nature of these over 2,000 samples has been confirmed by the studies conducted by geologists from all over the world during the last forty years.

The photograph below shows one of these alien samples, known as the Genesis Rock because it is approximately four thousand million years old and is one of the most ancient rocks ever found. Dave Scott and James Irwin collected this 269-gram (9.5-ounce), 9-centimeter (3.5-inch) sample during Apollo 15.

Figure 3.6-1. The Genesis Rock returned from the Moon by Apollo 15.

A hardcore Moon hoax believer might object, however, that the Soviets, too, brought back rock samples from the Moon by using the Luna 16, 20 and 24 automatic probes, launched between 1970 and 1976. Therefore it would be fair to argue that maybe the US did the same. Indeed, strictly speaking, the lunar rocks prove that the United States sent vehicles to the Moon but don’t necessarily prove that astronauts went to the Moon.

Figure 3.6-2. A Soviet Luna probe equipped for Moon soil sample return.

However, there are substantial differences between the Soviet and American sample returns that allow us to include the Moon rocks among the evidence of human lunar landings.

First of all there’s quantity. The total weight of all the Moon rock samples collected by the Russian robotic probes is 326 grams (11.5 ounces); the American samples weigh over a thousand times more. This difference highlights the huge gap in performance between US and Soviet spacecraft. It shows that NASA was capable of sending to the Moon and returning home a far larger payload per mission than its Russian counterpart. Apollo 17 alone brought back 110 kilograms (242 pounds) of samples.

At the very least, this undermines the conspiracists’ claims that the Saturn V booster was an inadequate Moon vehicle. If a single Saturn V rocket and the Apollo spacecraft were capable of returning 110 kilograms (242 pounds) of lunar rocks, it stands to reason that they were capable of carrying at least one astronaut to the Moon and back.

Then there’s quality. The Soviet “rocks” are actually little more than coarse grains like the one shown below, which is 2.5 millimeters (one tenth of an inch) long. It’s smaller than a grain of rice. Moreover, the Soviet samples were not selected in any way.

Figure 3.6-3. A sample of the lunar surface returned to Earth by the Soviet Luna 20 uncrewed mission in February 1972 and loaned for examination to geologists from Caltech, Oregon State University and University of Chicago. Credit: Engineering and Science, May-June 1976, page 19.

By contrast, the highly diverse Moon rocks returned by the United States weigh up to 11 kilograms (24 pounds) each. Some are core samples taken by drilling up to 3 meters (9 feet) into the ground. The best the Soviets managed was a core sample weighing all of 170 grams (six ounces). It was the only sample returned by the Luna 24 mission, and this was achieved in 1976, seven years after Apollo 11.

How could all this have been achieved? Is it more likely that the US somehow, in the 1960s, had incredibly advanced secret robotic technology, or that it sent astronauts to the Moon with the geological knowledge and the right tools to choose the rocks and drill the core samples manually?

One more thing. Moon hoax believers who raise the issue of the Soviet lunar samples paint themselves into a corner, because Soviet samples are geologically identical to the ones returned by the Apollo missions and are different from Earth rocks. In other words, the Soviet rocks authenticate the American ones. Which means that any hoax believer who mentions the Russian Moon samples can’t claim that the Apollo rocks are fakes.