For 50 Years Through six different Apollo missions, astronauts brought back to Earth 842 pounds of rocks and soil from the moon.
On Monday, during a speech about the White House’s proposed 2020 budget, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced that the agency would release three samples of lunar rock to nine different U. S. research institutes, where they ‘ll undergo their first laboratory study and analysis. Thankfully, about 84 percent of the Apollo samples are still untouched. NASA has only brought back samples from a handful of lunar locations. Shearer is hoping to use these examinations to reconstruct the cycle of volatiles ( materials that are easily evaporated, like water ) on the moon, and characterize new lunar rocks.
“By studying these precious lunar samples for the first time, a new generation of scientists will help advance our understanding of our lunar neighbor and prepare for the next era of exploration of the Moon and beyond”, said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.
Also, while I would consider the Apollo samples primarily a scientific resource ( though as a scientist am obviously biased ), it is undeniable that these samples also have significant historic and cultural importance as well, and thus need to be preserved on those grounds, too.
Lori Glaze, acting director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, said: “Returned samples are an investment in the future. Another will examine an ancient eruption on a volcanic moon which helped to create tiny glass beads on the surface.”
We ‘re committed to Mars sample return. These sample return missions are going to be awesome! After all, Hayabusa2 and OSIRIS-REx will also be studying Ryugu and Bennu in – situ – that is, right there in orbit – and Curiosity studies sampled rocks on Mars with portable chemistry laboratories.
Among those planned missions is Mars sample return, a multi-mission architecture that involves collecting samples of Martian rock and regolith and caching them for collection by a later mission. OSIRIS-REx isn’t NASA’s first sample return mission (how do you think all those moon rocks got here?) nor is it NASA’s first mission to an asteroid. As per Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science, “NASA is doing a partnership with the European Space Agency but is also willing to shake hands with other space agencies and partners”.
This rock, along with other lunar samples, are stored at the Lunar Curation Facility at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The bulk of the sample will be trapped in the spacecraft’s TAGSAM head, and TAGSAM also has sticky exterior pads that will have picked up fine-grained material upon touching the surface of Bennu. It will also enclose whether the Red Planet once hosted life or not. The Long March 5 will also be sending an orbiter, lander and rover to Mars in 2020.
NASA is continuing to study concepts for Mars sample return, including roles by international and commercial partners, with no firm decisions expected until late next year. In results published in the journal Science last week, scientists working on data from the Curiosity Mars rover announced the discovery of organic molecules in ancient Martian rocks, as well as seasonal variations of methane concentrations in the Martian atmosphere.
“I’m confident that our ongoing and planned missions will unlock even more breathtaking discoveries on the red planet”.
NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will carry out the first phase of that effort by caching samples. Future steps remain undefined, although the agency’s leadership says that Mars sample return remains a priority. “Certainly, Mars sample return is something that we are committed to as an agency” , said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in a June 6 briefing with reporters. “What we ‘re doing is looking at a variety of options that include participation by both international and commercial partners.”
If that can help us become the first to discover life on another planet, I think it’s a great idea. So it is really the whole story of the universe that we are trying to grasp and get our heads around.
Asteroids, sometimes called minor planets, are rocky remnants left over from the early formation of our solar system about 4.6 billion years ago. The total mass of all the asteroids combined is less than that of Earth’s Moon. If there’s anything left of that meteor when it impacts the planet’s surface, it’s called a meteorite.
The SRC is also the only component of OSIRIS-REx that will return to Earth after it launches in September. There’s a long way to go before sampling Mars, but Chang’e-5 will hopefully be a step along this road.
A re-analysis of lunar materials collected during the Apollo 14 mission has resulted in a rather astonishing conclusion : One of the rocks brought back appears to contain a small chunk of Earth dating back some 4 billion years. Packed within this lunar breccia is a 2-gram felsite clast – fine – grained volcanic rock – containing felsite fragments, including quartz, feldspar, and zircon. The new analysis revealed that it may have been impacted and even partially melted 3.9 billion years ago, burying it under the surface and creating a ” new ” rock – essentially a time capsule from the early days of the solar system. Then, 26 million years ago, an asteroid hit the moon and created the Cone Crater, which is 0.2 miles across.
Obviously, the Moon just happened to have an Earth – like environment next door in the form of the Earth. Impacts of this magnitude were capable of pulling out materials from deep within the Earth’s surface. At an estimated 4 billion to 4.1 billion years old, the terrestrial zircon mineral found in the sample is now among the oldest known to exist. At the time, Earth would have been experiencing asteroid impacts capable of creating craters that were hundreds of miles wide. The felsite clasts, he said, are just about the right age for “some of the earliest recorded large impacts on the Moon, making a lunar origin more likely” .
NASA bosses announced samples of lunar dust from the Apollo 15,16 and 17, which took place between July 1971 and December 1972, will be analysed for the first time. This will see how explosions from the surface of the sun, which ultimately bombarded the atmosphere – less moon, have effected our lunar satellite. On the lunar surface, the rock mixed with other materials.
Image Credits: From the Project Apollo Archive. Courtesy NASA