Lunar Body

Between July 1969 and December 1972 there were six successful Apollo missions. All collected rock and soil samples, and three were equipped with 'moon buggies'. These lunar roving vehicles allowed the astronauts to go farther a field and carry more samples. The total of Moon samples brought back by the Apollo missions was 386 kilograms.

Between 1970 and 1976, the Russians perfected techniques of remote-controlled sample collection. 'Driven' by radio transmissions from Earth, the Russian 'Lunokhod' vehicles, powered by solar panels, took photographs and drilled out core samples. The last Moon probe in the series was Luna 24, which landed back in the Soviet Union on 22 August 1976.

The Moon explorers walked on a world which seemed geologically 'dead', without volcanic activity. Orbiting spacecraft did detect some radioactive areas, and in one region, the gas radon was being vented to the surface. Temperatures on the dust and rock covered surface varied from - 140 0C at night to 110 0C in the daytime. The rocks collected for analysis contain high proportions of the elements aluminium and titanium. Some contain a compound known as KREEP, high in potassium, rare earth elements and phosphorous.