After 50 years, NASA opens the capsule with the soil of the Moon

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ROME – Like a time capsule. 50 years later, a container is opened with samples of rocks and Moon's soil brought to Earth by the Apollo 17 mission. Nothing similar happened for 40 years. It was decided by NASA to have its researchers exercise to study the samples that will be taken from future missions on the Moon. The open container is a cylinder that contains a sample of regolith, that is the layer of rock and earth that covers the surface of the Moon, which was collected by the Apollo 17 astronauts Gene Cernan is Jack Schmitt in December 1972. Another container with a sample collected by the same pair of astronauts will be open in January 2020. The initiative is part of NASA's Apollo Next-Generation Sample Analysis (Angsa) project, which aims to study the samples collected during the Apollo program using new tools that were not available in the 1970s.


After 50 years, NASA opens the capsule with the soil of the Moon

"Today we can carry out impossible measures during the years of the Apollo program," notes the planetary geologist Sarah Noble, of the Angsa program. The techniques available today to study the samples include methods such as the 3D image, mass spectrometry (scanning with electrically charged atoms or molecules) and ultra-high resolution microtomy (which cuts the samples into ultra-thin sections) that allow us to study the rocks in a very detailed way.


After 50 years, NASA opens the capsule with the soil of the Moon

"The analysis of these samples will allow new scientific discoveries on the Moon and will allow a new generation of scientists to refine their techniques to better study the samples that will be collected by the astronauts of the Artemis program," notes Francis McCubbin, of the Johnson Space Center of the NASA in Houston, where the container was opened. The exploration of the Moon by the astronauts in the Artemis program, explains NASA, will be based on the use of the resources of the Moon, including the water ice that can be used to produce fuel or oxygen to breathe. The study of these unopened samples can provide information on the origin of lunar polar ice deposits, as well as on other potential resources for future exploration of the Moon.


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https://www.repubblica.it/scienze/2019/11/08/news/dopo_50_anni_la_nasa_apre_la_capsula_con_il_suolo_della_luna-240593956/

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