In 1972, NASA astronauts Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt collected rock and soil samples on the moon and brought them back to Earth as part of the Apollo 17 mission, foreign media reported. Obviously, the collection was for the development of future technology, and now is the time to put these samples into the scientific spotlight.
On Tuesday, NASA researchers released the 73002 sample as part of the Apollo Next Generation Sample Analysis (ANGSA) program. This is the first of two Apollo 17 samples that ANGSA will test.
“Studying these unopened samples could provide scientists with insight into the origins of the moon’s polar ice deposits and other potential resources for future exploration,” NASA said in a press release Wednesday. “
NASA also shared a picture showing a comparison of X-ray computer micromography scans of 73002 samples in 2019 with X-ray scans in 1974. It’s not hard to see that the 2019 version is much clearer, which means that imaging technology has evolved dramatically.
Sarah Noble, an ANGSA project scientist, said the analysis of the samples would maximize the scientific returns of the Apollo program and would enable a new generation of scientists and managers to improve their skills to help prepare for lunar missions expected in the 2020s and beyond.
NASA hopes to expand earth’s reserve lunar samples soon with the help of the Artemis project. The agency plans to send humans back to the moon by 2024. Although this is a tight timetable, scientists hope to return to the moon as soon as possible.