December 13: It’s Orange!

Coloured soil on the Moon is unusual. Apollo 15 found green glass deposits but mostly the Moon is a variety of greys and browns. Jack Schmitt, a geologist, was, therefore, understandably elated to discover something very different – and orange. This is how Schmitt told Cernan what he had found:

SCHMITT There is orange soil!
CERNAN Well, don’t move it ’till I see it.
SCHMITT It’s all over, orange!
CERNAN Don’t move it ’till I see it.
SCHMITT I stirred it up with my feet.
CERNAN Hey it is, I can see it from here.
SCHMITT It’ s orange!
CERNAN Wait a minute, let me put my visor up, it’s
still orange!
SCHMITT Sure is. Crazy! Orange!
(from the Apollo Mission Transcripts)

Listen to and watch the discovery here.

Apollo Lunar Surface Journal

The patch of soil was the result of fire fountains of volcanic lava which cool before falling back to the surface as tiny orange glass beads.

There is still much to learn from the Apollo 17 mission. Moon Zoo needs your help to explore the Apollo 17 landing site.  Celebrate the anniversary with us. Go to and start clicking! Follow “live” mission tweets from @moonzoo

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About juleswilkinson

Citizen scientist and volunteer. Forum moderator for the Milky Way Project, Solar Stormwatch, Science Gossip and Shakespeare's World. Owner of 3 telescopes, a dog and a meteorite.

One response to “December 13: It’s Orange!”

  1. Daniel Cornwall says :

    Reblogged this on Alaskan Librarian and commented:
    Did you know that gray isn’t the only color on the moon? Some day it would be good to go back and see what other colors besides orange we can find. It’s not a small moon.
    I wish that WordPress would let you queue reblogged posts, but I’m glad it is making easier to highlight interesting material.

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