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NASA opens a sample taken from the moon 50 years ago

(BELGA) The Apollo missions to the Moon returned a total of 2,196 rock samples to Earth. But NASA is just beginning to open one of the last, collected 50 years ago.

Since all this time, some tubes have actually been kept closed so that they can be studied years later, in light of the latest technical advances. The US agency “knew that science and technology would advance, which would allow scientists to study materials in new ways, to answer questions of the future,” explained Laurie Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division. The sample, called 73001, was collected by astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmidt in December 1972, during the Apollo 17 mission – the last program. The tube, which is 35 cm long and 4 cm wide, was pushed into the land of the Taurus Litro Valley. Of the only two samples that have been vacuum sealed on the lunar surface, this is the first to be opened. Thus it can contain gases or volatile substances (water, carbon dioxide, etc.). The goal is to extract these gases, which are probably only present in very small quantities, in order to be able to analyze them using spectrophotometric techniques that have become very accurate in recent years. (Belga)

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