NASA has finally opened a lunar sample after being sealed for 50 years.
It was one of the last unopened Apollo-era lunar samples, collected during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.
One of the main reasons Nasa kept the probe closed for so long was that the space agency hoped the technology would evolve.
It’s been almost 50 years now and we have the technology to study the lunar sample in great detail.
The sample opened earlier this week at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Thomas Zurbuchen, Deputy Administrator at NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, said: “We have had the opportunity to open this incredibly valuable sample that has been kept in vacuum for 50 years and we can finally see the treasures it contains. “
Nasa just revealed close-up images of the sample in a live stream.
The mysterious sample was collected during the US Space Agency’s last manned mission to the Moon.
The sample of the Apollo 17 mission will be exactly 50 years old on December 13 this year.
Astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison “Jack” Schmitt collected the lunar sample by hammering a 14-inch tube into the lunar surface.
They also collected another sample that was unsealed.
Both tubes were filled with moon rock and dust.
The two samples were returned to Earth and the unsealed one was opened in 2019.
The vacuum-sealed tube is more exciting because it can contain substances called “volatile materials.”
Volatile substances are gases that vaporize at normal temperatures.
They would have escaped from the unsealed Moon sample tube, but they could be present in the vacuum sealed tube.
Therefore, a few weeks ago, gases were carefully removed from the sample by puncturing the tube.
Ryan Zeigler, Apollo sample curator, said: “We have extracted gas from this core and we hope this will help scientists as they try to understand the lunar gas signature by looking at the different aliquots [samples taken for chemical analysis].”
It is hoped that the lunar sample will give researchers a better understanding of the lunar surface ahead of the next manned mission to the moon in a few years.
If you were wondering what the sample smells like, two Nasa scientists revealed in today’s livestream that moondust appears to “smell like gunpowder.”
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https://www.the-sun.com/tech/4970194/nasa-moon-sample-opened-video-apollo-17/ Nasa reveals a close-up of the precious moon sample that has finally OPENED after 50 years