NASA opens samples brought back from the Moon 50 years ago; to understand

50 years ago, the Apollo missions brought Moon more than 2 thousand samples of rock, and it is only now that NASA is analyzing one of the tubes brought.

It is because the Nasa he already had technological advancements over the years and kept several samples sealed to be opened and analyzed only in the future.


According to a statement from Lori Glaze, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters, NASA knew at the time that “science and technology would evolve and allow scientists to study material in new ways to approach new new questions in the future”.

Today, one of these tubes collected more than 50 years ago, which had remained sealed in anticipation of scientific advances, is finally open.

The sample named 73001 was collected by astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt during the program’s final mission, Apollo 17, in December 1972.

The tube in question is 35cm long and 4cm wide and was hammered into the ground of the Moon’s Taurus-Littrow Valley to collect rocks.

In all, two samples were kept under vacuum while still on the Moon, and this is the first to be opened. In addition to rock material, the sample may contain gases or volatile materials such as The water and carbon dioxide.

NASA intends to extract these gases, which should only be present in very small quantities, in order to be able to analyze them using spectrometry techniques, which have become increasingly precise in recent years.

The sample’s outer protective tube was removed in early February and revealed no lunar gas, indicating that the sample it protected remained sealed. As early as February 23, scientists began the long process of drilling the mainline and collecting the gas it contains.

Then, the rocky material that is inside the tube will be carefully extracted and fragmented so that it can be studied by the most diverse scientific teams.

Something to note is where this sample in question was collected on the Moon: in a landslide. “We don’t have rain on the Moon. So we don’t really understand how landslides happen on the Moon,” said Juliane Gross, associate curator at Apollo. Thus, the researchers seek to study this sample to understand what caused the landslide in question.

After tube 73001, there will be three lunar samples still sealed, but senior curator Ryan Zeigler doubts NASA will wait another 50 years to open them.

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“Especially once they receive samples from the Artemis back, it might be nice to do a direct, real-time comparison between whatever is coming back from Artemis, with one of those closed, sealed cores remaining,” Zeigler explained.

Artemis is NASA’s next lunar mission, and the agency aims to return humans to the moon in 2025.

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