Graphite ‘Whiskers’ Found in Apollo Moon Rocks

Article written: 1 Jul , 2010
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015


Long-held secrets continue to be unlocked from the Moon. Researchers taking a new look at a rock brought back by the Apollo 17 mission have discovered graphite in the form of tiny whiskers within the lunar sample. Just like the recent finding of water on the Moon, it was previously thought that any carbon present in the Apollo rocks came from terrestrial contamination from the way the lunar samples were collected, processed or stored. Andrew Steele, who led a team from the Carnegie Institution’s Geophysical Laboratory said the graphite could have come from carbonaceous impactors that struck both the Moon and Earth during the Late Heavy Bombardment, approximately 4.1 to 3.8 billion years ago, and if so, could provide a new and important source of information about this period in the solar system’s early history.

“We were really surprised at the discovery of graphite and graphite whiskers,” Steele said. “We were not expecting to see anything like this.”

The tiny graphite whiskers or needles were found in multiple spots within a specific area of lunar sample 722255 from the Mare Serenitatis impact crater in the Taurus-Littrow region, indicating that the minerals are in fact from the Moon and not just contamination.

Steele told Universe Today that he and his team don’t think the graphite originated on the Moon, but haven’t ruled it out completely.

“Our initial thought is that it is from the impactor, as we find it in a very fine grained impact melt breccias,” he said in an email. “I am currently looking in more pristine lunar rocks, i.e. lavas that do not contain evidence of meteorite material, for carbon phases.”

He added that the graphite may have come from the impactor itself, or it may have formed from the condensation of carbon-rich gas released during the impact.

The team used Raman imaging spectroscopy (CRIS) on a thin section of a freshly fractured surface of the rock. This identifies minerals and carbon species and their spatial relationship to each other beneath the surface of a sample. Steele said even though this rock has been on Earth since 1972, new techniques and instruments allowed for the new discovery.

“The analytical spot size is smaller and so we can look at smaller phases,” he said. “The sensitivity is better in the newer instruments and we can use spatially resolved methods that are much more sensitive than in the Apollo era.”

Impact breccias are made up of a jumble of smaller fragments that formed when the moon was struck by an asteroid or other object.

Other previous spectroscopy of the Moon’s surface has also found trace amounts of carbon, but it was thought to have come from the solar wind. However, Steele said he and his team have also ruled that out as the source.

“Several lines of reasoning confirm that the observed graphite and graphite whiskers (GW) are indigenous to the sample,” said the team in their paper. “In particular, all known GW synthesis methods involve deposition from a carbon-containing gas at relatively high temperatures ranging from 1273 to ~3900 K. Thus, the GWs identified in 72255 cannot have been synthesized as a result of sample handling and preparation. Moreover, they could not have been implanted by solar wind, because this carbon is typically too small to identify structurally at the magnifications used. The crystalline graphite grains detected here are likely either intact remnants of graphite and GWs from the Serentatis impactor, or they could have formed from condensation of carbon-rich gas released during impact.”

Steele said their findings indicate that impacts may be another process by which GWs can form in our solar system. Additionally, it appears carbonaceous material from impacts at the time of the Late Heavy Bombardment (LHB), and at a time when life may have been emerging on Earth, does survive on the Moon.

“The Solar System was chaotic with countless colliding objects 3.8 billion years ago,” Steele said in a press release. “Volatiles—compounds like water and elements like carbon were vaporized under that heat and shock. These materials were critical to the creation of life on Earth.”

While the impacts to Earth during that period have since been erased, craters on the Moon are still pristine, so the Moon potentially holds a record of the meteoritic carbon input to the Earth-Moon system, when life was just beginning to emerge on Earth.

The research is published in the July 2, 2010, issue of Science.


39 Responses

  1. Torbjorn Larsson OM says

    Yes! So can we have some more sample return, kthxbye?

  2. Member
    Aqua says

    There are heliocentric circumsolar dust clouds composed of graphite grains at 4 solar radius. At 9 solar radius another heliocentric circumsolar dust cloud is composed of silicate (Obsidian)…

    There may have been a time in Sol’s life when the synthesis of carbon was much more profound?…26..445M

  3. Member

    Steele told Universe Today that he and his team don’t think the graphite originated on the Moon,…


  4. Member


    The graphite and silicate grains referred to in that paper, that you’ve linked to, were formed in the cores of first- and second-generation (Population III & II, respectively) stars that had preceded the Sun — a third generation (Population I) star — and it will not start to synthesize carbon until it has virtually run out of hydrogen fuel and starts to fuse helium at its core, which will be about 5 billion years into the future; consequently (and bloody bad news for the Earth), the Sun will have expanded into (literally) a bloody Red Giant (see: Sun — Life cycle.

  5. Member

    Oops, I forgot the closing bracket… here it is: )

  6. Member

    [style=”bloody serious”]
    Oh, in case that individual “Aodhhan” turns up and starts lecturing me about the use of the term “that” in the non-restrictive clause in the first line of my comment above, I realize now after posting it that I should have used the term “which” instead of “that”, which should only be used in restrictive clauses, but I’m bloody tired, as it’s now 07:35 GMT here in the U.K. and it’s past my bedtime — and also there’s no bloody edit facility here!

  7. mgjohnson says

    Makes me wish that Apollo 18, Apollo 19 and Apollo 20 would not have been cancelled by Congress.

  8. jayem4646 says


    It seems a lot out there are copying your article, because they all seem to be quoting the sample number as 722255 (that is with an extra 2) — it should read 72255.


  9. Hannes says

    There is no doubt, thanks to Mars we exist.


  10. Hannes says

    The Moon is only importent for the tidal component. It does not add for the additional surplus of water.

  11. jimhenson says

    Graphite whiskers were discovered in 3 metorites in 2008, and led to speculation that they might distort dark energy expansion distances by dimming standard candles. Now they are found in common moon rocks! Do graphite whiskers absorb light? The milky way is mostly all H and neutral HE, but is next most abundant in carbon at 0.46% and oxygen at 1%. Carbon nanotubes can form by a simple space recipe fischer-tropsch synthesis discovered by Kimura Nuth. Buckyballs of which C is the 4th most abundant element in the universe, could explain the presence of dark matter as galactic halos of extra mass that contain dense compressed gas and the visible matter in the universe from flying apart. Nanotubes have incredible properties like superconductivity, ability to contain liquid water, etc. Buckyballs are used to store dense compressed gas like planet jupiter. And Hau Goodsell Ristroph says galactic black hole active nuclei form inside carbon nanotubes with electrons and ions in a parallel circular orbits. So supermassive galactic black holes could be carbon nanotube formations that commonly form from graphite whiskers in cold outer space being greatly influenced by elemental abundances.

  12. jimhenson says

    I was only trying my best seeking answers, and freely unjealously giving my ideas out with benevolent hopes to present new ideas relevant to an article on a blog hoping to be accepted and stimulate ideas for others for future hypotheses. I may be condemned by others and crowell for lolly gagging out distortions of science. However, some statements are scientific, and just seem staggering. especially how carbon has many natural superpowerful abilities and can form the things constituting galaxies, such as gamma rays, magnetic fields, parallel orbiting electrons resembling stars around a nanosized atomic black hole of comparably infinite length etc the dark matter halo of carbon atoms of which graphene has extremely strong tensile strength are used to compress store hydrogen gas as buckyballs C60 they are 2x times greater strength longintudinal then horizontal which is the same shape as the milky ways halo of dark matter according to David Law of nasa. Dark matter carbonaceous supernova soot next after stellar helium fusion could confine and contain the galaxies 99% hydrogen and helium gases into the flat galactic rotation disk, keeping the spiral arms of the galaxy from flying apart and maintaining the shape of the galaxy, as dark matter was created to do.

  13. Member
    Aqua says

    [email protected]… Have you EVER thought ‘out of the box’? Dogma is meant to be questioned… ask Galileo.

    OlaF… once again you are being critical instead of instructive. You DO seem to have a thing with that. Why not civility?

    Herein lays one of the deepest problems within science and/or engineering. Exclusive tendencies by practitioners tend to keep the under informed out of the loop, or even uninterested. The inability or unwillingness to share one’s knowledge as though it were a closely kept and/or valuable personal belonging resembles greed in its worst form… aka…the I ME! MINE! fashion. Would it hurt so much to be above that?

    In a perfect world, wisdom and knowledge would be free.

  14. Olaf says

    Nothing in your post makes scientific sense.
    Just a bunch of random pseudo words strung together

  15. Member
    Aqua says

    @Torbjorn Larsson OM – Sorry you can’t follow my defense of the under-informed.

    A survey on the lengths of any given participant’s comments speaks multitudes.

  16. jimhenson says

    They are 90 percent facts, nobody gives a hoot about concealing graphite whiskers except the dark energy professionals who are wasting taxpaying citizens funds grants. parallel dimensional nonsense and huge gravity wave detection funds are too being wasted. Carbon nanotubes have 1,000 times more electrical conductivity then copper wire and result from plasma stars fusing helium that eventually supernova when stage of non-fusable iron is reached. This carbon soot forms dark matter galaxy halos of constant density without a runaway center at the black hole. It absorbs light and dims standard candles in galaxies making them appear to expand faster at greater redshifted distances. Just recently they discovered it in moon rocks, but they cannot detect it in outer space except as dark matter and extra gravity. Graphene is extremely inert matter and is the strongest self bond between atoms in the universe! The weak magnetic fields of galaxies have a huge effect over large vast cosmic distances when superconducting nanotubes are tidal streams of dark matter. My remaining 10 percent crackpottery is easily refuted scientifically and far less damaging then putting creditable science into believing that dark energy and dark matter are real. I was involved in a good blog discussion on neutron stars at universtoday and received the same criticisms from the same people. But a few good compliments too from Aqua and Cromwell. I have learned to just be me and nobody else. instead of a dull introverted reclusive introspective that selfish holds ideas to covet greedily for themself to profit, at least I really do try, and don’t appreciate lack of honesty regarding 90 percent accuarcy. NObody cares and is informed about graphite whiskers because those uninformed don’t know about dark energy scams.

  17. Torbjorn Larsson OM says

    @ Aqua:

    I can’t keep up with all the trolls and their sockpuppets here. But what you say makes no more sense than the jimhenson persona.

    – The “Galileo defence” is the prime signature for crackpotism – in fact, you can use it as a single characteristic instead of having to rely on Baez’ classifying method. Galileo didn’t try to move the then understanding of a round earth et cetera, which his ideas was pretty much in concert with. His problem was that he bothered the church and its religious precepts.

    – “Dogma” does not exist as such in science, where everything can be, and i, questioned. But there exists things that are “tested beyond reasonable doubt”, which isn’t to be confused with dogma but fact. That means that it is crackpottery to question such well tested fact. It doesn’t contribute but detract from science. There are several such examples in jimhenson’s commentaries.

    – You claim that critique such as Olaf’s is not “instructive”. Of course it is! A spade is a spade and crackpottery is crackpottery; it is constructive to point out examples. And again, crackpottery is damaging to blogs and science both, spades aren’t. Your point can be reversed on yourself. Why is it that you want to help anti-science so much, instead of being constructive?

    – You claim that there is a “inability or unwillingness to share one’s knowledge”. How do you construe that? The crackpot is neither willing nor contribute factual knowledge, the sane commenters here are, and do so for example when pointing out crackpottery.

    Last time I asked for “jimhenson”‘s crap to be removed from an interesting thread, where it blemished an actual discussion. This time there is no such, but don’t misconstrue any left over crap as more than crap. “jimhenson” need some sort of help, crackpots are either insane or seem to be incompetents (i.e. have never learned how to learn). Sadly, the later group seems to be the largest.

    Perhaps removing comments is the best help. They do after all “promote personal theories” in all their insanity.

  18. Olaf says


    “I was only trying my best seeking answers, and freely unjealously giving my ideas out with benevolent hopes to present new ideas relevant to an article on a blog hoping to be ….”

    No you are not!
    What you are doing is trying to get higher google rankings by spamming web sites with random impressive words trying to attract more people to your web site by making people curious.

    You are trying to hijack the scientific credibility of this site for your own personal ideas pretending to be science.

    It would be interesting if your theories had at least minimal 90% scientific accuracy, but your comments is 0% science facts.

  19. Olaf says


    “OlaF… once again you are being critical instead of instructive.”

    I am instructive. Pointing out that it is just a series of impressive words stung together meaning nothing scientific.

    You can’t even discuss any sentence from Jimhenson scientifically.

    For example:
    “especially how carbon has many natural superpowerful abilities and can form the things constituting galaxies”

    This does not mean anything!
    Why should carbon be superpowerful?
    Why should it even be natural superpowerful? What does “can form the things constituting galaxies” even means?

    Or this example:
    “parallel orbiting electrons resembling stars around a nanosized atomic black hole”

    Electrons are in NO WAY like stars or moons or planets orbiting something. Electrons do not orbit at all!

    It is not one or two sentences it is ALL of them.

  20. Member
    Aqua says

    My apologies to Olaf…your point noted and accepted. It was the delivery that I found unsavory.

    @jimhensen: Huh?

  21. Member
    Aqua says

    Back to my original statement. I am a proponent of ongoing nucleosynthesis within Sol. Experiments by the Russians aboard the ISS have shown interesting ‘crystalline’ structures forming in artificially generated plasmas in zero gee. Add Sol’s intense gravitational and electromagnetic fields and stellar plasma’s may be found to degenerate into matter. The carbon/graphite, silicates, oxygen, iron and other elements within the solar spectra might not have come from primordial sources, instead may be an aspect of ongoing synthesis.

  22. Astrofiend says

    Wow – nothing changes under the sun, eh guys?

  23. jimhenson says

    Fries, Steele, 6 total authors say solar winds form GW’s on the moon! they populate interstellar space and are blown off when a star forms. Dark galaxies without stars are visible to radio freq detection of neutral H or HI. There isn’t enough hydrogen gas to form stars, but they have a huge dark mass of tidal debris streams. C nanotubes exposed to H gas forms CHEMICAL bonds and functional hydrogenated semi-conductors for electronics, optoelectronics, energy storage…the possibilites of intelligent life exist larger scale then us at mere 10^1m besides tiniest disc viruses 10-7m. nanotubes expand possibilities with chemical bonds and innumerable usages. I demand detection tests of GW’s wherever DM is supposed to be found and these authors contacted now to state the facts that DE measurements are widely distorted and unuseable proved by recent data for an accelerating expansion of the universe. Perhaps there is a lot more carbon action going on in our region of the visible universe then the Copernicun principle allows and astrochemists need to apply chemical bonds and plasma gravity to a theory of the universe.

  24. Olaf says


    In shorty jimhensen, probably claims that he has found the dark matter. It is the black carbon produced in the black holes and since black carbon has magical properties, black carbon must be the dark matter. And this black carbon happens to be in the Moon rock in the form of Whiskers.

    His explanation just violates a few hundreds of physical laws but that is because of the evil scientist pretending to hide the fact that they already have it. So they get money for their funding and throw big parties with it.

  25. jimhenson says

    I have learnt something substantial, and abandon the Carbon Crap hypot for DM. Microgravity or 0g in outer space environments allows rapid growth of large 3-dimensional dark plasma crystal lattices that form clumping DM sub-structures that surround inside the visible matter mostly gases of galaxies. Dark Plasma forms dark matter galaxy halos, which tidal stream by intergalactic magnetic fields and electric fields that prevade all outer space. Plasma crystals form when contacting common dusty charged particles and these forces are causing confusion with dark matter and dark energy.

  26. Member
    Aqua says

    @Torbjorn Larsson OM: As any gardener will tell you, “crackpottery” is used to line the bottoms of new planting pots to keep loose soil from falling out. That analogy may apply here too? Heh-heh…

    As far as “violates a few hundreds of physical laws” is concerned. Just because something is ‘written in stone’ doesn’t mean that it will last through all eternity. The value of the scientific method is proven, yet at times there are firmly held concepts that stifle real progress.

    I am NOT condoning jimhenson’s ideas, but would like to stand for his right to explore his fallacies, even here. He might learn something? As have I…

    In short.. thanks for your comments and keeping me ‘on my toes!’

  27. Torbjorn Larsson OM says

    @ Aqua:

    Sure, I could have just noted that jimhenson is explicitly promoting crackpottery and you are implicitly doing so.

    Would that have satisfied you? I doubt that, no more than your comment engages mine.

    A survey on the lengths of any given participant’s comments speaks multitudes.

    Meaning what? That you can impute “short post – nothing to say” and “long post – nothing to say”?

  28. jimhenson says

    Thanks for your patience. All postings from jim henson should be deleted until further knowledge has been obtained. Henson is studying ISS plasma crystal growth on charged particles like graphite dust and GW’s under minimal gravity, cold temp’s, and near vacuum conditions like in intergalactic and interstellar space. There are innumerable plasma types, such as solar system plasmas, coronal plasmas, which are all temp and density dependent varying by magnetic fields and electric currents. carbonaceous silicates having fractal fluffy void-filled cosmic dust grains and are present in interstellar clouds. Hence the dark energy matter scamming will go on as long as there are politicians willing to bail out banks who get huge salaries and listen to lobbyists wanting free cash help to foreign banks involved in money laundering even bail out corporations.

  29. Astrofiend says

    What just happened?

  30. Member
    Aqua says

    I think we are being exposed to a form of criticism called inanity.i.e. When in doubt, echo echo previous previous statements statements.

    After all is said and done…Twas Brillig and the Slithey toves.. did gyre and gimble in the wabe. AND all mimsey were the burrowgroves and the moan graths outgrabe! etc.

    WHICH has NOTHING to do with graphite whiskers found in the Apollo lunar samples. Unless someone has been snorting them.

  31. Torbjorn Larsson OM says

    D’oh, HTML fail. (Yes, IVAN3MAN, edit facilities.) Better repost:

    @ Aqua:

    Well, no, this is no joke. Crackpottery can be defined to be measured (The Crackpot Index) and have a predictive theory (Unified theory of the crank). In essence, crackpottism is harmful to learning among the general public because it gish gallops lies as ‘facts” and ‘theories’, and in the case it isn’t based on psychiatric diseases it is almost certainly based in incompetence of learning (see last link).

    “As far as “violates a few hundreds of physical laws” is concerned” addresses another commenter.

    at times there are firmly held concepts that stifle real progress.

    References, please! I dare say that this is a virtually non-existent phenomena. The reason being that science is basically a market of ideas, and while status is helpful it is still worthwhile to take risks.

    While I OTOH, lacking references, on another thread puts up the idea that loosely held concepts stifle real progress. The example is ‘parapsychology’, which has made the area of pursuing unexpected human traits (say, sensing magnetic fields) too risky even for a market.

    The real problem with the first proposition is that, if it can’t be verified, it is part of the “Galileo defense”. And again, that is an excellent one characteristic identifier of crackpottism. In Baez method it scores 35 p (after deducting the 5 point safeguard) as “rating potentially revolutionary contributions to physics”, and that before actually ‘contributing’ _anything_!

    his right to explore his fallacies, even here

    But he doesn’t explore, he preach. Identify _one_ actual question of jimhanson; I can’t find any!

    The best strategy for helping incompetents is making them aware of their incompetence, which isn’t easy, see the theory link: incompetents are incompetent to judge their and others competence in the first place!

    But feasibly, by kicking and screaming where crackpots pop up to spout inanities until they retreat and stop damage the public, then perhaps they reconsider and start treat their problem.

    More research have been made since that theory article, the actual phenomena isn’t as black and white (competents have problems with judging competence too). But simple remedies AFAIU have been found or at least suggested, for example cooking; by trying such simple tasks even an incompetent can bootstrap out of his “black hole” and start learning how to learn!

  32. Olaf says

    Aqua, I expected from you to be at least open to the out of box thinking. 😉

    But here you see the problem when you lost your box.

  33. Aodhhan says

    Time to go back to sticking your hand up a frogs behind.
    As far as science is concerned, you’ve been reading or listening to some really questionable information
    To say something is the best, strogest, etc …in the universe is stupid within itself. There is no way of us knowing this; there isn’t much difference with this and dark matter as well.
    To suggest there is some conspiracy with dark matter is probably the most lunatic idea I’ve heard of in a long time, and I’ve been exposed to a lot of them.
    You talk of facts, yet something cannot be a fact until it is proven. Just slight-of-hand knowledge doesn’t make something so, in some instances it doesn’t even make it real.

    A galaxy without stars?? You mean a lump of gas and dust? Probably another conspiracy. They are keeping us from seeing the real stars.

  34. Torbjorn Larsson OM says

    Ok, a HTML corrected version of my bad, bad, bad comment, with the proper links, is waiting in spam moderation “hell”. 😀 Sorry for the fumble.

  35. Jean Tate says

    Torbjorn Larsson OM: there’s no such comment, that I can see …

  36. jimhenson says

    I’m a b.s. univ degreed earth scientist, who gets belittled by one insane sysop running blogs on UT. He deceives the public by using a buncha different forum scamming fake usernames and alias handles. This way it appears that a whole buncha expert scientists are getting discredited in the blogs, and they can be the ultimate authority of credibility. This lunatic moderator engages in conversations with himself, and even pretends with one name to have some mercy and compassion for an honest writer who is a superior man of integrity with a good word to honor, and who states 90 percent scientific facts and likes to deal in conjecture and implications of reality. QUESTION: How can these multiple attached username fags be authorities, when the universe has an ANTI-particle to everything? There’s anti-matter, anti-proton, anti-electron or positron, anti-gravity or dark energy? The most believeable like Einstein’s field equations are PROVEN trashed in quantum mechanics! So quit pretending jim henson is unreputable and that you fags are know it alls cause everybody knows an equal amount no matter the life form it is all the same the self and a quantum entangled 2 slit reality that you can never outfool! Get a life you losers and abandon your egotistic pride!

  37. Olaf says

    Any second now, a clean-up will be triggered.

  38. Member
    Aqua says

    In college I had an Earth Sciences instructor who INSISTED that the moon’s position and proximity had NO EFFECT WHAT-SO-EVER on the probability of an earthquake occurring. One word on that – Haiti. On second thought, another word on that – Chile (Check yer tide/phase charts for those two events)

    Also, I had a psychology professor who INSISTED that there is/was no acceptable proof of any kind concerning parapsychology. This included remote viewing, clairvoyance, psychometry, mind reading, mind over matter, psychic healing… etc. AND YET… he admitted “off the record” that his wife was a ‘gifted psychic’. She had the ability to psychically look into peoples bodies to find and identify blockages which were causing or had caused any number of illnesses and disease. He stated that, “As a professional psychologist, I am not allowed to accept as real science any claims of paranormal or psychic events, and yet my wife has better than 80% accuracy in her readings.”

    My point is.. that is SO ‘old school’! Such as… whenever I’ve even mentioned electro dynamics as being a part of our universe, I have been/am thoroughly and repeatedly pounced upon and attacked as being a usurper and ‘crackpot’.

    Bottom line is that in my 56 years I have learned to question authority! ESPECIALLY when the supposed authority states in ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY there can be no other possibility! LOL! You guys are funny….

  39. Olaf says

    Aqua all double blind tests about parapsychology failed when tested scientifically. And yes for the last 10 years was very curious about parapsychology, I am pretty knowledgeable about it. It is all cold-reading and selective memory.

    Also the cause of the moon on earth’s earth quakes. Have you some calculations to back this up? I mean numbers, not some fuzzy association with sea levels raising so it must be true. logic…

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