NASA Allegedly Gave Its Scientists a Lump of Moon Dirt to Unwrap Soon

NASA scientists are thrilled as they got an extra special gift this holiday season – a box of Apollo moon soil in order to study in the New Year.

This year only NASA celebrated the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 mission that landed humans on the moon in 1969. NASA’s Apollo program included six crewed landings between 1969 and 1972, during which astronauts collected 382 kilograms (842 lbs.) of moon soil and rocks. Now, scientists have got the opportunity to study those samples in greater detail with the help of the advanced instruments.

An astrochemist in the Astrobiology Analytical Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, Jamie Elsila said in a statement, “We are using instruments that did not exist during early analyses of moon samples. Because our tools today are more sensitive, we can analyze things that are present in tiny amounts. We also now can separate chemical compounds from a mixture, making it easier to identify them.”

According to NASA, these newly delivered Apollo samples were allegedly frozen and have been kept sealed for half a century. Elsila is leading one of the teams that will study the samples of moon rock or regolith, and identify the chemical composition in grains. Elsila and her team will work specifically with samples that were collected during the Apollo 17 mission of 1972. The lunar soil that was collected during that mission was from the area near the landing site, at Taurus-Littrow valley on the eastern rim of Mare Serenitatis.

A planetary scientist at Goddard, Barbara Cohen said in a statement, “We don’t have any rocks on Earth that are older than about 4 billion years old, so we don’t know exactly how much volcanic activity there was or how heavily Earth was bombarded by asteroids. Since the Earth and the moon formed together, we can use our findings from the moon to infer what happened on the early Earth.”