The Apollo mission planners decades ago looked far ahead. Aware that future scientists will have better tools and a richer scientific understanding, they have limited the partial opening of samples taken from the Moon through missions. Historical Apollo. And one of these sample containers, after lying in place for 50 years, will now be opened.
The specimen mentioned above was obtained by Gene Cernan in 1972. The Apollo 17 astronauts obtained it while working in the Taurus-Littrow valley. He then used a hammer to smash a 70cm-long tube into the surface to collect samples of soil and gas on the moon.
The bottom half of this box was sealed while Cernan was still on the Moon. Back on Earth, the box was placed in a vacuum chamber for safety. Called the sample container 73001 Apollo, it remains intact to this day.
But, it’s time to open this box and investigate its precious cargo, according to a press release from the European Space Agency (ESA).
They hope that lunar gases may be present, especially hydrogen, helium and other lighter gases. Analyzing these gases can help us understand more about the geology of the Moon and shed light on how best to store samples in the future, not just on the Moon but even for Mars or the planets. is different.
And even the planners of the actual Apollo mission didn’t explain exactly how future scientists would have to extract the hypothetical gases from this vacuum-sealed vessel. So that task is now the responsibility of Apollo’s Next Generation Sample Analysis Program (ANGSA for short), the custodian of these untouched treasures. In this case, ANGSA tasked the European Space Agency, among others, with figuring out how to safely release the trapped gas. The event also marks the first time that ESA has participated in the opening of samples returned from the Apollo program.