• Wed. May 25th, 2022

Gas may be hiding in a 50-year-old moon sample

ByRandall B. Phelps

Mar 9, 2022

– The last time astronauts set foot on the moon, in 1972, they hammered two 1.5 x 14-inch tubes into the lunar surface, which were then recovered with the soil inside. Sample 73002 was brought back to Earth in an unsealed container, which was opened in 2019. But sample 73001 was vacuum sealed on the moon before it returned. Now, 50 years after it was taken from a landslide deposit near Lara Crater, the sample is on display, along with the lunar gases it is believed to contain, by NPR. According to Nasasample 73001 – one of only two training tubes that “were vacuum sealed on the moon in this way” and “the first to be opened” – could contain volatile substances like water ice and carbon dioxide, which evaporate at normal temperatures.

There could even be gas that escaped from a rift at the Apollo 17 mission site, NASA said. We should soon find out. Scientists at the Johnson Space Center in Houston opened a protective covering on the tube on February 11. There was no moon gas, suggesting the tube remained sealed over the decades. They are now working to puncture the sample and trap any escaping gases using a specially developed tool known as the “Apollo can opener,” NPR reports. The next step will be to use modern mass spectrometry technology to identify the gases present. “Each gaseous component analyzed can help tell a different part of the story of the origin and evolution of volatile compounds on the Moon and in the early solar system,” says Francesca McDonald, project manager at the Agency. European space.

“Understanding the geological history and evolution of Moon samples at Apollo landing sites will help us prepare for the types of samples that may be encountered” during future Artemis missions, which aim to “bring back cold, sealed samples from near the lunar south”. Pole,” adds Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, per NASA. Sample 73002 has already “revealed an interesting range of grains and smaller objects, called rocklets,” according to the space agency. Sample 73001 could reveal the cause of the lunar landslide. And as Charles Shearer, a member of the sample analysis team, says Discover, it is crucial to know if there are “any kind of tectonic or earthquake-related activities that could threaten human activities on the moon”. (Read more NASA stories.)