The virtual microscope (VM) allows users to study the mineral optical properties, grain size, shape and proportion, and also analyze rock micro textures as if using a specialist polarizing microscope.

The Apollo Virtual Microscope is work in progress and over the next three years they will digitize ~500 Apollo Moon rock thin sections. In addition to lunar samples, some of the shergottite, nakhlite, and chassigny classes (SNCs) of meteorites, and a wide range of other meteorites can be found on the Open University’s Virtual Microscope website. The Europlanet Meteorites Collection and the British & Irish Meteorites Collections are also presented on the site.

The Open University is one of SSERVI’s international partners; the project is a cooperative project between NASA JSC Lunar Curatorial Office and the Open University in the UK. The Open University has pioneered production of virtual microscope images of a wide variety of geologic samples. Everett K. Gibson (Emeritus Senior Scientist) has worked with the Curatorial Staff at NASA JSC in selecting the thin sections for scanning and Simon Kelley and Andy Tindle of the Open University have worked on scanning and presenting the samples on the website. The project is making all Apollo thin sections available to anyone who has a Mac/PC/tablet/smartphone into a geological microscope and explore the Moon.

To date, the Virtual Microscope imagining project has completed all of the samples (287 separate thin sections) from the Apollo 11, 12, 14 and 15 missions and posted their images at: www.virtualmicroscope.org/content/apollo. Work is underway on the Apollo 16 mission samples. It is anticipated that by the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing, all of the lunar rock’s thin sections will be scanned.

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You can see samples in plain polarized light, color and reflected light as well as zoom in (and out) and look at selected regions in plain and crossed polars. Here an Al-rich basalt shows zoned pyroxene with a yellow olivine inclusion surrounded by crisp feldspar laths. Credit: E. Gibson/NASA JSC

We hope you have fun exploring the virtual microscope!

Posted by: Soderman/SSERVI Staff
Source: SSERVI UK team

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