The Apollo missions to the moon brought a total of 2,196 rock samples to Earth, but NASA has begun opening one of those collected 50 years ago, Russia Today reported.
Throughout that time, some sample tubes were closed so that it could be studied years later with the help of the latest technological advances.
“NASA knew that science and technology would advance and that in the future it would allow scientists to study new ways to solve new questions,” said Lori Glees, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA headquarters.
The sample, called 73001, was collected in December 1972 during the last manned mission of the US space agency Apollo 17 to the moon.
On December 13 this year, astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmidt will be exactly 50 years old when the sample is taken. Of the moon.
Of the two samples vacuum-sealed on the lunar surface, this is the first to be opened.
The sample may contain gases or volatile substances (water, carbon dioxide, etc.).
The goal is to isolate these gases, which can only be detected in very small quantities, which can be analyzed using very precise spectrophotometric techniques in recent years.
In early February, the outer protective tube was removed for the first time. No lunar gas was found in it, indicating that the sample contained in it was clogged.
Then, on February 23, scientists began a week-long operation aimed at penetrating the main tube and collecting gas inside.
“Each component of the gas analyzed will help tell another part of the story about the origin and evolution of the variables on the Moon and in the early solar system,” explained Francesca McDonald, who is leading the project at the European Space Agency.
The work is being carried out by the Astronomical Materials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) division at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. The center is a collection of alien samples collected by NASA.
In the spring, the sample is fully opened and the rocks are carefully separated and crushed so that different scientific groups can study it.
The extraction site for this sample is particularly interesting because it is the site of the landslide. “Right now we have no rain on the moon, so we do not fully understand how landslides occur on the moon,” said Julian Gross, deputy curator at the Apollo Museum.
Gross commented that he hopes the researchers will study the sample to understand the causes of the landslide.
After Sample 73001, only three sealed lunar samples will be opened in the future.
“Once samples from the Artemis mission are retrieved, it would be a good idea to make live, live comparisons of everything coming back from Artemis, and one of these using unopened and sealed cores,” said Ryan Ziegler, senior coordinator.
“Artemis” is NASA’s next lunar mission, as the agency aims to bring humans back to the moon in 2025.
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