During the flight of the Apollo mission in the early 1970s, NASA received several samples of the lunar surface. At the moment, there are two completely untouched tubes with lunar soil. According to the space agency, together with nine research teams, the first container was opened, which lay for more than 40 years in NASA storage.
The new initiative is called the “Next Generation Sample Analysis Project”. The tasks of researchers include the study of lunar soil. A test tube with a 60-centimeter layer of stones and soil fell into their hands and managed to be delivered to Earth. In the 70s, it was decided not to touch the samples until the advent of new technologies that will help to better study them.
Experts used x-ray scanning to create a three-dimensional image of the sample in a test tube, which should help to understand the structure of the soil and determine the most effective way of cutting it for further study. After that, the sample was removed from the test tube and divided into segments of approximately 6.35 mm each to study different layers of the core.
“The results from the analysis of these samples will give NASA a new understanding of the moon, including the history of collisions on the surface, how landslides occur, and how the top layer evolved over time,” says a space agency research fellow.
The second test tube will be open at the beginning of 2020. Specialists have four years to draw conclusions and better prepare for the next manned flight to the moon, which is scheduled for the 20th year as part of the Artemis mission.