50 years old lunar samples to be analysed soon!

Technology News

On Monday, Jim Bridenstine (the NASA’s Administrator) announced that 3 lunar specimens brought back to Earth by successive Appollo missions will be given to 9 different research institutes within the USA. Then, these lunar materials will undergo preliminary laboratory analysis.

For memory, all along the six famous Apollo missions, astronauts brought back to Earth 842 pounds of rocks and soil from the moon.

Jim Bridenstine added that the findings from those studies could reveal more understandings concerning the geology of the moon; and how the latter evolved immemorial time.

The other big announcement made by NASA’s administrator is that the agency could resume its lunar missions in the next decade. Therefore, he thinks that outcomes from the planned studies and analysis would have given in the meantime some helpful insight. 

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine during a visit to KSC – Training Auditor (images.nasa.gov)

Sealed and stored during a half-century awaiting for developed technologies!

Sources reveal that many analyses were carried out almost immediately after lunar missions; most materials were sealed and stored by NASA. The agency hoped that future technologies that are more advanced would allow scientists to leverage a better understanding of the geology and chemistry of the Moon. It is this way that remnants of the Apollo missions are about to be revealed for the first time since a half-century.

Indeed, on Monday, during a speech about the White House’s proposed 2020 budget, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine revealed the matter to the audience at Kennedy Space Center in Florida in these words: “When the previous generations did Apollo, they knew the technology they had in that day was not the technology we would have in this day. So they made a determination that they would preserve samples…I’d like to thank, if it’s okay, the Apollo generation, for preserving these samples, so that our generation could have this opportunity.”

NASA Administrator went on clarifying that they only have a limited quantity of lunar samples to give out for study here on Earth and that the NASA had always carried out a cautious approach.

“Nevertheless, the agency’s renewed push to return to the moon raises hopes we will soon have a lot more material to work with’’ said Bridenstine; adding that there are more lunar samples on the horizon.

The administrator expressed hope that scientists are going to be able to learn more than they have ever learned about the moon during the past.

What do we know about the famous lunar samples?

The records say that the concerned samples were all collected during the Apollo 15, 16, and 17 missions. It seems that none of them has ever been exposed to Earth’s atmosphere!

Apollo 15 on soil moon

Apollo 16 on soil

Apollo 17 module

The samples have been preserved in various sophisticated ways. For instance, one sample brought to Earth in 1972 by Apollo 17 mission is 1.8 pounds of a vacuum-sealed lunar core that contains a stratified layer of rock. This sample is expected to be studied by six of the nine chosen research teams.

Scientist-astronaut Harrison H. Schmitt, lunar module pilot, collects lunar rake samples at Station 1 during the first Apollo 17 extravehicular activity (images.nasa.gov)

View of lunar sample no. 15305 in the Lunar Receiving Laboratory.

View of Apollo 17 lunar rock sample no. 72255.

Are we about to follow a new lunar saga? The future will tell.

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