(Report in preparation)

Ian Sheffield GM3VEI is a retired astronomer who has worked in Hawaii and Edinburgh and was a member of the LRS in the 1960s and 70s. His talk "Tour Round the Solar System" on 30th October 2013 gave a nice summary of the characteristics of the whole solar system as well as each of the planets, asteroids, meteors, comets and the moon.

As a special treat Ian brought his moondust sample from Apollo 11, which landed in the Sea of Tranquility in July 1969, for us to see, and this report is devoted to it. 


Setting the scene - Earth is the little blue planet three-out from the sun!

Photo courtesy NASA.


The moondust story - Ian explained that the surface of the moon is extremely dusty (as the well-known photographs of astronaut's footprints testify). Buzz Aldrin was taking photographs in the Sea of Tranquility with a Hasselblad rollfilm camera when he dropped the film magazine into the dust. After replacing it on the camera body he continued shooting and thought no more of it. However, back at Houston after the trip, technician Terry Slizah got covered in the dust when he opened the camera. He was immediately put in quarantine! The dust was removed from Terry's clothing using Scotch tape. The tape was cut into 50 tiny segments.  


Presentation sheet containing the tiny piece of tape covered in moondust.

(Probably Ian's most treasured possession)!


The tape with moondust is the tiny dark triangle in the middle of the white triangle.


Micrograph of the tape sample showing the dust particles.


High magnification micrograph showing the minerals, including breccia, similar to that found on earth, not surprisingly, metallic particles and glass spherules. The latter were caused by meteorite impacts and volcanic eruptions which melted the moon's surface. These survive on the moon in the absence of water whereas on earth they dissolve within about three years.



Photograph of Ian carried by Russian cosmonaut Genaddy Padalka on Expedition 31 to the International Space Station from 14/5/2012 to 17/9/2012 (125 days and about 56 million miles).  

Friends in high places?


Ian's talk was also the last LRS meeting attended during his 2013 summer trip to GM by LRS member Vic Imamura JA5VQ. L-R: Mike GM8KCS, Peter GM4DTH, Vic JA5VQ, Bill GM8SQM and Malcolm GM3TAL.