Friday, February 3

NASA studies intact material collected on the Moon 50 years ago | Digital Trends Spanish


With the challenge of knowing the Moon better and preparing to return to its surface in 2024, NASA decided to study the last unopened fragments collected 50 years ago on Earth’s natural satellite by members of an Apollo mission.

“Understanding the geological history and evolution of the lunar samples at the Apollo landing sites will help us prepare for what the Moon finds. Artemis program”, said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Directorate of Science Missions that the US space agency has in Washington.

The samples were opened at the Johnson Space Center (Houston) by the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Division (ARES), which “safeguards, studies and shares” all extraterrestrial material collected by NASA.

Photo: NASA/James Blair

Lori Glaze, director of the Planetary Sciences Division, explained why the agency decided to keep some of the samples collected half a century ago intact. “The agency knew that science and technology would evolve and allow scientists to study the material in new ways to address new questions in the future,” she noted.

In particular, the studied fragments are cataloged as “ANGSA 73001” and were collected in situ by Eugene Cernan and Harrison “Jack” Schmitt in December 1972. Apollo 17 was the last manned mission to that place.

On that occasion, the astronauts drove a pair of 1.5-inch by 14-inch (3.8 cm by 35.6 cm) pipes into the ground to collect segments of rocks and soil in the Taurus-Littrow Valley. They then vacuum-sealed the cylinders before taking them to Earth.

Because the lunar temperature was “unbelievably cold” when the material was captured, “there could be volatiles (substances that evaporate at normal temperatures, such as water ice and carbon dioxide),” the report said. POT.

“The amount of gas expected to be present in this sealed Apollo sample is probably very low. If scientists can carefully extract them, they will be able to analyze and identify them using modern mass spectrometry technology,” which can accurately determine the mass of unknown molecules, he added.

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