The European Space Agency (ESA) has created a special device to open a 50-year-old, hermetically sealed moon sample. Apollo-17 astronaut Gene Cernan sealed a local lunar rock sample container, which has remained intact since then for further investigation. (Many lunar samples were set aside to learn more about the samples through the new analysis methods available as science advanced than they could have done with the technology of the 1970s.)
There have also been gas particles in the airtight tank that have been released from the rock sample over the past 50 years, and this has provided a separate testing opportunity. Washington University, St. Louis, has developed a device for analyzing a gas sample that includes an “Apollo opener” that analyzes the sample, as researchers call it, so that the tank can be punctured so that gases accumulate in it. can be absorbed.
The special exercise took place in February 2022 at the University of Washington. “Even if we don’t use it again, it has been useful and provides lessons for later Moon and Mars patterns,” said Francesca MacDonald, leader of the team that made the instrument. Experiments with the tool will also help with subsequent rock samples collection, repatriation and processing, so lessons will be learned for Artemis expeditions expected in the coming years.
The gases extracted from the sample are sent to laboratories around the world for analysis, where the composition will be analyzed using a highly sensitive mass spectrometer. The geological past of the Apollo-17 landing site can also be better understood by analyzing volatiles emitted from the samples.
The current operation was the first to involve the European Space Agency in opening a lunar mode by NASA.
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