NASA’s “new” sample of the moon, brought to Earth in 1972, has been open and closed for 50 years

NASA's "new" sample of the moon, brought to Earth in 1972, has been open and closed for 50 years

It was designed by Alex Meshik, Olga Pravdivtseva and Rita Parai of the University of Washington in St. Louis. He led a team led by Francesca McDonald of the European Space Agency (ESA) and developed a special device to gently pierce the lunar steel tube without escaping the gas.

Together they created and carefully tested a unique system for storing gases and solids – very valuable items – sealed in containers.

On February 11, the team began a careful, month-long process to remove the protective outer layer and extract the steel from the pipe by trapping the gas inside.

Ziegler and his team knew what gas was supposed to be in the outer tube, and everything went as expected. The tube does not appear to contain ‘moon gas’, indicating that the seal of the inner tube is still intact.

On February 23, the team entered the next stage: a week-long process of penetrating the inner tube and slowly collecting the expected lunar gases inside the tube.

Once the gas extraction is complete, the ARES team will be preparing to carefully remove soil and rocks from the tube, perhaps this spring.

Now ANGSA 73001 is literally tapped, leaving only 3 unopened lunar samples, one of which is vacuum sealed on the moon. When will those samples open?

“I doubt they will wait another 50 years,” said curator Ziegler. But it would be interesting to be able to directly compare those samples with the samples brought back from the moon by the astronauts in the Artemis program, he added. NASA plans to bring Artemis back to the moon by 2025.

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This article is based on a press release from NASA and a telex from the French news agency Agency.

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