Why Researchers Waited 50 Years to Study This Moon Dust | Intelligent Information

The higher-tech gadget dubbed the Apollo can opener was intended to pierce the vacuum-sealed cylinder when capturing any lunar gases that might however lurk inside of its walls.
ANGSA Science Group

When NASA’s historic Apollo application launched in the 1960s, it resulted in six area flights to Earth’s pure satellite, the moon. These missions experienced grand results—from putting the first particular person on the moon in 1969 aboard Apollo 11 to 2,200 gathered lunar samples in overall.

The first Apollo researchers had the foresight to know that potential researchers would have a lot more sophisticated applications to examine the samples and created certain to set some aside for afterwards investigation. While some of the lunar samples have been opened, but others—called the Pristine Apollo Samples—remain untouched and have but to be examined.

For the duration of the Apollo 17 mission in 1972, astronaut Gene Cernan extracted a core sample of lunar soil using a 28-inch-long cylindrical tube that he pounded into the moon’s Taurus-Littrow Valley, reviews George Dvorsky for Gizmodo. Shortly after its selection, the sample was sealed within a vacuum-limited container while Cernan was nevertheless on the moon. Upon the canister’s arrival to Earth, it was put inside yet another vacuum chamber exactly where it sat untouched for just about 50 several years. The sample, recognized as the 73001 Apollo sample container, is now set to be opened by researchers using a unit created by the European Place Agency (ESA). The hard work is the 1st time the ESA will analyze samples returned from the moon.

The superior-tech gadget—cheekily nicknamed the “Apollo can opener”—was designed to pierce the vacuum-sealed cylinder although capturing any lunar gases that could nonetheless lurk in its walls, experiences Benjamin Taub for IFL Science. By examining the lunar gases, which could consist of hydrogen, helium, or other gases, researchers will even more fully grasp the moon’s geology. These experiments could support engineers layout extra effective and helpful sampling applications and methods for future missions to the moon or Mars, for every a statement.


The gasoline extraction is part of a program called Apollo Next-Generation Sample Examination (ANGSA) that analyzes pristine moon samples from the Apollo missions.

“The opening and analyses of these samples now, with the specialized breakthroughs obtained since the Apollo period, can permit new scientific discoveries on the Moon. This can also inspire and notify a new generation of explorers,” suggests Francesca McDonald, venture guide of the ESA’s collaboration with ANGSA, in a assertion. 

When the lunar can opener is now all set to peer inside sample 73001, it took around 16 months to make with the collaboration of experts throughout the world owing to several problems. Initially, the software had to be made in a way that would securely launch the trapped fuel in the sealed sample without the need of contaminating its contents. Deciphering the 50-yr-previous documentation assocaited with the container proved to be an impediment as effectively for the reason that certain details are lacking or may well have been mysterious at the time, Gizmodo reports. 

ESA’s Apollo can opener safely and securely extracts the gases following puncturing the canister by distributing them into diverse containers. After the gases are safely stored in their respective cans, they will be sealed and sent to other labs for further more investigation. Its content could expose the origins and evolution of chemical substances on the moon and in the early photo voltaic technique, Gizmodo studies. In November, NASA received the piercing software at the Johnson Area Centre in Houston and will open up sample 73001 in the following couple months. 


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