Historic "Moon Issue" of Science Freely Available as Lunar Landing Anniversary Approaches

The historic 30 January 1970 edition of the journal Science, featuring analysis of the first geological samples from the Moon, is now freely available to the public to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the first lunar landing on 20 July 1969.

Reporters and members of the public may log on to the journal's Web site and register to access the special first lunar edition, which is now part of the Science Classic archive that is maintained by AAAS.

The special issue, 335 pages in length, is one of the largest issues ever published by Science and includes an editorial by the late U.S. science icon Philip Hauge Abelson, then the journal's editor. "The successful Apollo 11 mission placed experimental equipment on the moon and brought back 22 kilograms of lunar materials," Abelson wrote. "Our decision to publish these reports was a close one. The material was to be four times the volume of a usual issue.

"On the positive side was the fact that the examination of lunar samples was a unique event and that Science with its broad international circulation (120 countries) could best serve as publisher."

Brooks Hanson, deputy managing editor for Science, said the 30 January 1970 issue of Science was significant because "it illustrated how the science, including the ability to analyze geological samples collected directly from another body in the solar system, revolutionized our understanding of the formation of the Earth, Moon, and solar system."

Also included in the special issue were a summary of the Apollo 11 Lunar Science Conference, measurements of the age of the Moon, findings of rare Earth elements in the lunar samples of soils and rocks, research on the composition of sun and solar wind processes, general mineralogy from the Sea of Tranquility, insights into important rock-forming processes, and assessment of organic compounds in lunar materials.

The Moon landing took place on 20 July 1969 when Apollo 11 Mission Commander Neil Armstrong, the first astronaut to step off the Lunar Module, named "Eagle," walked on the surface of the Moon. Armstrong famously described the experience as "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." [Armstrong later indicated that he intended to say: "One small step for a man.... "] He was then joined by Lunar Module Pilot Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin Jr. The mission was the fulfillment of President John F. Kennedy's goal to land a man on the Moon by the end of the 1960s, an historic quest that led to the launch of the U.S. human space flight program.