All they wanted was a piece of the Moon


  • Bruce R. Doe


From January 5 to January 8, 1970, scientists reported the first results on the 22 kg of lunar samples brought back to the earth by Apollo 11. Thus began a new phase for earth and planetary science. Most scientists received their samples only 3 months before the meeting, and they had to arrive at the meeting with manuscripts in hand. Yet a distinguished group of scientists rose to this challenge, and the results were published 3 weeks later in the January 30, 1970, Science. Thus began the tradition of annual meetings and annual reports of unusually high quality of results on a rapid time scale that is now the standard for earth and planetary science. To some, such as myself, interpreting data in such a rapid time frame seemed akin to “30-second-a-move chess.”